January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. Nearly 3 million people in the U.S. suffer from glaucoma, an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in loss of vision. While there is no cure for glaucoma, an early diagnosis, proper medical treatment, and a healthy lifestyle can slow the disease’s progress.
Glaucoma is a life-changing disease. But it doesn’t have to be a change for the worse. You may be surprised to learn that comedienne Whoopi Goldberg and U2 lead singer Bono have been diagnosed with glaucoma. It hasn’t slowed them down! Living with glaucoma means making strategic changes to your daily routine — developing new habits that will allow you to manage your health and maintain the independent lifestyle you’re accustomed to.
Here are a few tips on developing the healthy habits you need for living with glaucoma:
Communicate with your healthcare providers, your family, and friends.
Schedule regular eye exams and take your medications. Communicate with your doctor. Let him know which medications you are taking for your glaucoma. Some of the drugs commonly prescribed for glaucoma don’t mix well with other drugs, like cortisone.
Medications should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Make them part of your daily routine, just as you do for brushing teeth and eating meals, to avoid missing a dose.
Explain your disease to your family and friends, and look for support groups specifically for patients with glaucoma. Emotional support is important to successfully coping with glaucoma.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise.
A healthy, well-balanced diet is a good for everyone and is especially beneficial when living with glaucoma. Your food should contain lots of antioxidants, vitamins A and D, zinc, carotenoids and omega 3 fatty acids — nutrients that can prevent further degeneration of the eyes and slow the progress of your disease.
Exercise helps lower eye pressure and gets blood flowing to the retina and optic nerve. Since some activities can increase the pressure on the optic nerve, you should consult with your optometrist before starting an exercise program.
Monitor your blood pressure closely. Low and high blood pressure can lead to further optic nerve damage.
Limit caffeine intake, and don’t smoke!
Adapt to changes in your vision.
In the home, you can install lights in the parts of your house that are too dark. Place on/off switches in convenient, easily accessible locations. Move any potential obstacles to a safe place.
Wear sunglasses for outdoor activities and goggles or safety glasses while playing sports or doing yard work.
If it’s too dark outside, use a bright flashlight.
Use careful judgment when it comes to driving. Your vision loss may have progressed to a point where you could pose a danger to yourself and others on the road.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Catch Glaucoma Early With Regular Eye Exams
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. The best way to control glaucoma is to catch it in its early stages. A regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exam with a Houston optometrist or ophthalmologist is the best way to spot a vision problem in its beginning stages.
Get 2019 started right with a visit to a Berkeley Eye Center location near you. Our team of Houston ophthalmologists and optometrists have extensive experience when it comes to detecting and treating glaucoma.
Dr. Eunice Yook provides medical and surgical treatment of glaucoma:
- Laser glaucoma surgery: laser trabeculoplasty, laser iridotomy, cyclophotocoagulation
- Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery: goniotomy, Xen gel stent
- Cataract surgery to improve outflow from the eye
- Incisional glaucoma surgery: Glaucoma drainage implant
Don’t wait until it’s too late — schedule an eye exam with a Houston eye doctor today.