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  • 8 Healthy Habits That (Possibly) Prevent Glaucoma

    8 Healthy Habits That (Possibly) Prevent Glaucoma

    A series of small observational studies hints at lifestyle factors that may help stave off glaucoma. Evidence for the 8 healthy habits was presented on Saturday at the Glaucoma Subspecialty Meeting.

    “These habits may prevent glaucoma; they’re not proven strategies,” said Louis Pasquale, MD, FARVO, who encouraged feedback from audience members to refine and hone the list. “We have large databases, and we could test any hypothesis that you may have in terms of strategies to prevent glaucoma.”

    The following strategies could help prevent glaucoma:

    1. Eat a diet rich in leafy green vegetables. Leafy greens are packed with nitrates that can be converted to nitric oxide. That’s important, because some studies have found impaired nitric oxide signaling in people with glaucoma.
    2. Wear shades to protect your eyes from the sun. Ultraviolet light—especially when reflected off bright surfaces, as encountered in snow or water sports—can increase the risk of exfoliation glaucoma.
    3. Brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly. Periodontal disease may trigger a neuro-inflammatory cascade that can affect the optic nerve head and contribute to glaucoma.
    4. Exercise regularly, but don’t overdo it. Moderate exercise is associated with a healthy intraocular pressure (IOP), whereas extremely vigorous exercise may elevate IOP and the risk of primary open-angle glaucoma.
    5. Get screened regularly for glaucoma, especially if you have a family history of the condition. Researchers have identified several hereditary factors that increase the risk of glaucoma.
    6. Maintain a healthy body weight. Studies show that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) are at increased risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and, by extension, glaucoma. Low BMI is also associated with increased glaucoma risk.
    7. Drink coffee in moderation. Large amounts of caffeine increase IOP and may put people at risk for glaucoma.
    8. Avoid inverted postures in yoga. These positions can hike up IOP. There are plenty of yoga exercises that don’t have this effect, however.—Anni Griswold

    Financial disclosures. None.