It is estimated that 60 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with or are living with glaucoma, with that number expected to rise in 2017. A large portion of that number is completely unaware that they have glaucoma. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, so we’re here to share some tips on how to lower your risk of vision loss brought on by glaucoma.
While a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet can certainly lower your risk of glaucoma, the only way to prevent glaucoma-related vision loss is to attend regular eye examinations. Vision loss from glaucoma is not reversible, no matter what type of food you eat. Glaucoma can damage your vision without any initial symptoms, so these exams are important in preserving your vision.
That said, let’s talk about the foods you can eat to lower your risk of glaucoma-related vision loss!
Flavonoids are a large group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in just about every fruit and vegetable. They are part of the reason fruits and vegetables have just vibrant colors. Flavonoids are very powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. A study has shown that flavonoids have a role in improving visual function in patients with glaucoma and ocular hypertension. They appear to play a part in both improving and slowing the progression of glaucoma-related vision loss.
Onions, tea, strawberries, kale, grapes, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruit, and parsley are all examples of flavonoid-rich foods that you should add into your diet!
A study conducted in 2003 found that eating large portions of eggplant could reduce intraocular pressure by as much as 25% for a period of time. Low intraocular pressure keeps glaucoma risk very low. While eating eggplant should never be a replacement for intraocular pressure medications, it can’t hurt to add this healthy vegetable into your diet.
RGCs are responsible for receiving input from the 96.6 million rods and cones located on the retina. In layman’s terms, they play a huge part in your ability to see! These important RGCs are easily damaged by high intraocular pressure.
Many people, especially in Eastern medicine, swear by goji berries when it comes to preserving eyesight. Aside from plenty of anecdotal evidence, goji berries have been shown to have a protective effect on retinal ganglion cells (RGCs).
Our glaucoma specialists at Vision Care of Maine recommend these foods as part of a balanced diet. Of course, while these foods have been shown to have benefits in saving vision, they are not a replacement for your glaucoma medications. We also recommend speaking to your primary care doctor before switching up your diet.
In the spirit of Glaucoma Awareness Month, we encourage you to share this article. Awareness is the first step in preventing glaucoma-related vision loss. For more information on what you can do to stop vision loss, call a Vision Care of Maine location today!