Help Prevent Glaucoma With Good Nutrition
Last updated: Jan 02, 2013
By Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, CPT for Summit Medical Group
Reviewed by Susan Canonico, RD
January is National Glaucoma Awareness month
and the perfect time to choose healthy foods
to help prevent glaucoma-related blindness!
Glaucoma is a chronic, progressive, and irreversible disease that can lead to blindness. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the world.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, everyone is at risk for glaucoma;
but some people have a higher risk for the disease than others.
For this reason, it's important to know your risk for glaucoma
and get regular eye checkups!
Risk factors for glaucoma include being:1
- A person of African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Japanese American descent
- Age 60 years and older
- Someone with a family history of glaucoma
- Someone with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid disease)
- Treated long term with very high doses of steroids, including those in corticosteroid eye drops and asthma inhalers
- Someone with a corneal thickness less than .5 mm
- Someone who has had an eye injury that has caused retinal detachment
- Someone with eye tumors and eye inflammations
- Someone who has had eye surgery
- A smoker
"Because most people with glaucoma have no symptoms," says Summit Medical Group Ophthalmologist Monica B. Khalil, MD, "it's very important for everyone, no matter your risk, to get regular eye exams!"
You can help fight glaucoma
by choosing foods that promote healthy eyesight!
To help reduce your risk of glaucoma, be sure to eat a balanced diet that includes these delicious and healthy foods:
Salmon, sardines, and halibut, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids2
Studies show omega-3 fatty acids can help improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure and pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure)
Fruits and vegetables such as oranges, peaches, collard greens, and kale3
Data from the Rotterdam Study show that women age 55 years and older who ate 3 or more servings of fruit and vegetables that were high in vitamins A, C, and carotenoids each day had a 79% lower risk of developing glaucoma compared with study subjects who did not eat as many of the same fruits and vegetables
Whole grain breads and cereals that are high in thiamin3
Data from the Rotterdam Study also show that people who ate low amounts of thiamin as well as vitamins A, C, and carotenoids had twice the risk of developing glaucoma compared with subjects who ate a diet rich in thiamin and vitamins A, C, and carotenoids
In addition to helping promote eye health,
these nutritious foods also can lessen your risk of other chronic diseases
such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol!
Be Conservative With Caffeine!
Caffeine constricts blood flow through the eyes, and it can increase the pressure in your eye — effects that can add to your risk of glaucoma.2,4 For these reasons, the Glaucoma Foundation recommends limiting caffeine to 250 mg each day.
To help you keep your caffeine within healthy limits, remember that:
- Eight ounces of brewed coffee = 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine
- Eight ounces of brewed tea = 60 mg of caffeine
- A 12-ounce soda = 35 mg to 50 mg of caffeine
- A 12-ounce energy drink = ~260 mg of caffeine
Together with consistently good nutrition,
exercising regularly can help reduce your risk of glaucoma
by helping keep your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and stress
at healthy levels!
Want to get your eyes checked?
Call Summit Medical Group Ophthalmology
at 908-277-8682 today!
1. Glaucoma Research Foundation. Are you at risk for glaucoma? www.glaucoma.org. Accessed January 2, 2013.
2. Pasquale LR, Kang JH. Lifestyle, nutrition, and glaucoma. J Glaucoma. 2009; 18(6):423–428.
3. Ramdas WD, Wolfs RCW, Kiefte de-Jong JC, Hofman A, de-Jong PTVM, Vingerling JR, Jansonious NM. Nutrient intake and risk of open-angle glaucoma: the Rotterdam study. Eur J Epidemiol. 2012; 27(5):385–393.
4. Jiwani AZ et al. Effects of caffeinated coffee consumption on intraocular pressure, ocular perfusion pressure, and ocular pulse amplitude: A randomized controlled trial. Eye. 2012; 26(8): 1122-1130.