Can Lifestyle Changes Help Glaucoma?

About 3 million Americans have glaucoma, a group of diseases that damages the optic nerve and causes permanent loss of vision. Globally, glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness. 

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve located at the back of your eye. Once damaged, this nerve no longer transmits complete vision information to your brain, leaving you with deficits that can take a major toll on your quality of life. Most people with glaucoma have higher-than-normal pressure inside their eyes (intraocular pressure or IOP), but you can have glaucoma even when IOP is normal.

While medical treatment can help manage glaucoma, lifestyle changes play an important role, too. In this post, the team at Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts offers a list of seven steps you can take to protect your eyes and slow the progression of glaucoma.

1. Stop smoking

Smoking has been associated with a more rapid progression of glaucoma, and it’s bad for eye health overall. Quitting smoking improves circulation to your eyes, and it can help lower IOP, too. Stopping smoking isn’t easy. You can find helpful tips and a list of support options at

2. Make exercise part of your routine

Most of us know exercise improves circulation for better eye health overall. Recent research shows that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with less vision loss for people with glaucoma. Aerobic exercise also helps lower blood pressure and IOP, too.

3. Focus on nutrition

Eating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods, like colorful fruits and vegetables, may help improve eye health overall. Add foods high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help lower inflammation. For some patients, we may recommend special supplements that contain micronutrients associated with improved vision.

4. Optimize your sleep routines

Data show sleep disorders like apnea, daytime drowsiness, and other issues affecting sleep quality can increase your glaucoma symptoms. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and keep your head elevated to prevent increases in IOP that can happen when you’re lying down. Avoid sleeping with your face resting on a pillow because that can cause an increase in pressure, too.

5. Practice stress management

Stress raises your blood pressure, which could also result in higher IOP. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness activities can help decrease stress and improve your health in other ways. Avoid yoga that involves head-down positions because that could increase your IOP.

6. Manage your risk factors

Glaucoma is more common among people with specific risk factors. While some risk factors, like age or family history of glaucoma, can’t be changed, other risk factors can be modified. That includes a history of heart disease and diabetes. Managing these diseases more effectively could help reduce glaucoma progression and complications.

7. Have regular eye exams

One of the best ways to manage glaucoma is to have regular comprehensive eye exams. Regular visits allow us to measure your IOP and adjust your treatment as needed. Our team will determine how frequently you should have exams to ensure your glaucoma is well managed.

Take steps to protect your vision

With locations in Bellmore, Great Neck, and Huntington, New York, Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts makes it easy and convenient to give your eyes the support and care they need to prevent disease and enjoy clear vision. To learn more about glaucoma or schedule a comprehensive eye exam, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts today.

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