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The Role of Diet in Reducing Glaucoma Risk

November 13, 2014

As you may know, glaucoma is one of the vision diseases that affect people as they age. The disease, which unfortunately ends in blindness, usually begins with an increase in pressure in the eye, which leads to damage in the lens of the eye. Historically, much of the treatment for glaucoma has been focused on the eye itself such as treating the early symptoms with eye drops, for example, but a recent study has shown that a change in diet prior to the onset of symptoms may reduce the risk.

A recent study conducted in The Netherlands has new findings, however, about just how import diet may be in the prevention of glaucoma. According to the study, foods rich in retinol, a form of Vitamin A, have been found to reduce the risk of glaucoma. These foods include milk, liver, cheese and butter. While these foods also seem to possess a high fat content, there was actually no evidence that fat plays a role in preventing or intensifying the disease.

In addition to foods rich in retinol, researchers found lower rates of glaucoma between those who consumed more leafy greens, including carrots, orange-colored fruits and especially cabbage. The last finding of the study was that foods high in antioxidants like green tea, dark chocolate and coffee contributed to reducing the risk of glaucoma. It is important to note that caffeine intake, from foods such as those listed as high in antioxidants, especially coffee, are good to prevent the risk but researchers cautioned their use for those already diagnosed, due to their potential to aggravate the disease.

With all of the new findings, the researchers of the study outlined a seven-point set of guidelines for reducing the risk of glaucoma:

1. Consume abundant amounts of colorful fruit and vegetables.

2. Avoid high intake of salt in patients with hypertensive glaucoma.

3. Refrain from high-calorie diets (restricting fat) to avoid an increase in body fat.

4. Consider eating fish or nuts rich in omega-3 PFA, which appears to reduce risk.

5. Avoid drinking large amounts of liquid in a single sitting. It is preferable to drink small amounts in the course of the day.

6. Consume moderate amounts of red wine, black chocolate, and green tea.

7. Avoid coffee and caffeinated beverages to reduce increased blood pressure if you already have glaucoma.

If you are worried that you may be at risk for glaucoma, make an appointment to come in and speak with one of our doctors, like Dr. Silverman, here at OCLI. We would be happy to perform an eye exam and determine the next steps for you!

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