Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults in the United States, and is caused by an increase in intraocular pressure, which damages your optic nerves. In many cases, glaucoma can take years to manifest any noticeable symptoms, which can result in irreversible vision loss when left untreated.

    Fortunately, your ophthalmologist can detect and diagnose glaucoma early on, which is why it’s important to have your eyes examined at least once every two years. If you’re at increased risk for developing glaucoma or other eye conditions that can lead to vision impairment, you can have your eyes examined more frequently than once every two years.

    While an eye exam itself won’t prevent glaucoma from developing, it gives you the benefit of early detection and treatment, which can significantly increase your chances of maintaining healthy vision. However, regular visits to your ophthalmologist are only one component of reducing your risk for glaucoma. Here are steps you can take on your own to enhance your vision health, and reduce your risk for glaucoma.


    According to a recent study of nearly 5,700 men and women between the ages of 48 and 90, regular exercise can significantly decrease intraocular pressure. Participants in the study who exercised regularly over a 15-year period had a 25 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma than those who did not.

    Researchers and ophthalmologists recommend engaging in regular, moderate exercise such as walking, jogging, or swimming between three and five times per week. If you don’t already have a regular exercise regimen, talk to your general practitioner and your eye doctor about fitness recommendations.


    Increased intraocular pressure is often closely correlated with high blood pressure. Exercising will help lower your blood pressure, but you can do even more for yourself by monitoring your blood sugar and taking steps to avoid the development of type 2 diabetes.

    As your body’s insulin levels rise, so will your blood pressure and intraocular pressure. If your insulin levels stay elevated for an excessive period of time, your body will become insulin resistant, which can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes and glaucoma.

    To lower your insulin and blood pressure, avoid consuming foods that contain large amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates, such as white pasta and breads. If you also take steps to monitor and decrease your sodium intake, you may be able to lower your blood pressure as well as the risk for glaucoma.


    Prolonged use of some corticosteroids can result in blockages in the ducts where aqueous fluids leave the eye. These corticosteroids are often found in treatments for asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, rashes, and other disorders. If you’re concerned about how your medications may be affecting your vision, talk to your ophthalmologist and general practitioner to verify whether more vision-friendly alternatives are available.

    Posted February 5, 2015 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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