Glaucoma is among the leading causes of blindness in the whole world, with only cataracts ahead of it in inflicting blindness to masses across the globe. It is basically a neurological disorder that results in deterioration of the optic nerve, which serves as a bridge connecting your eyes to your brain. Over a period of time, it is highly likely to lead to irreversible blindness.
With 3 million of the US citizens suffering from glaucoma, a total of 60 million is estimated to be victimized
all over the world by this sight-threatening eye disease.
The irony is that only half of those affected by it are really aware of its presence, which makes it even more dangerous.
One of the possible reasons why so many people are not even aware about it is the fact that researchers have not succeeded in identifying the cause of this eye disease as yet and it also lacks any early warning signs and symptoms.
As of now, no cure for glaucoma exists and the drugs used to treat it are primarily focused on lowering the elevated eye pressure. However, this doesn’t always succeed in preventing the further progression of the condition.
Diet regulation can also serve as one of the best ways to stay away from this disease, according to a host of research studies, helping to naturally relieve IOP (intraocular pressure), improving blood flow to the eye and reducing oxidative stress.
So, let’s have a look at which foods should you eat to minimize your odds of getting glaucoma.
1. Sea Food
A study carried out by British researchers revealed that EPA (eicosapentaenoic), DHA (docosahexaenoic) fatty acids as well as total omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids’ levels were lowered in glaucoma patients. According to researchers, DHA and EPA may play a part in improving ocular blood flow, impaired systemic microcirculation and optic neuropathy, all of these associated with glaucoma. Wild-caught salmon remains one of the best natural sources of EPA and DHA along with fatty cold-water fish, such as tuna, herring, sardines and mackerel. So, making sea food a part of your diet regime is the most rational thing you can do.
2. Leafy Greens
Majority of researchers believe that leafy greens can play a role in minimizing glaucoma risks. For instance, as little as one serving of collard greens or kale per week can lower your glaucoma risk by about 57%. A Harvard School study suggests that the higher nitrate levels of leafy greens may be responsible for their glaucoma-fighting ability of leafy greens. Nitrates associated with leafy greens serve as a precursor for nitric oxide, a compound thought to be helpful in boosting healthy blood circulation. Based on their research, the Harvard researchers were able to conclude that glaucoma risk was lowered about 20% – 30% due to nitrates provided by leafy greens. In fact, this rate rose as higher as 40% – 50% for a specific type of glaucoma linked to poor flow of blood.
‘Solanum Melongena’ (the biological name of ‘eggplant’) is also known to be helpful in averting glaucoma. According to a study, consuming about 10 grams of eggplant daily resulted in lowering down intraocular pressure by 25%.
4. Goji Berries
Vision loss due to higher intraocular pressure is induced by deterioration and demise of RGCs (Retinal Ganglion Cells) in the retina. A recent study involving animals revealed that ‘Lycium babarum L.’ (the medicinal name for the plant commonly known as the ‘Goji Plant’) helps prevent deterioration of the RGCs, slashing the neuro-degeneration in the retina that results due to glaucoma. However, this improvement was independent of intraocular pressure, i.e. the goji boosted RGC survival though eye pressure remained high.
Blackcurrants are naturally rich in anthocyanins, which have proven their potential in slowing down the deterioration of visual field, as various researches have concluded. Blackcurrants are also known for normalizing the flow of blood in the eyes.
6. Peaches and Oranges
According to a NIH study, women consuming fresh peaches and oranges in excess of two servings per week reduced their odds of developing glaucoma. Orange consumption led to 82% reduction in glaucoma development, while peaches served to cut this risk by 70% percent. What’s important to note is that eating fresh fruit made the difference; for example, orange juice did not offer the same benefits even to its regular drinkers. Similarly, fresh peaches did the job much better as compared to canned peaches.
Research has also proven the efficacy of flavonoids in enhancing vision of glaucoma patients with high eye pressure, especially slowing down the progression of visual field loss. In essence, flavonoids are polyphenol compounds existing naturally in plants. Cocoa, green tea and red wine are known to have flavonoids in abundance naturally, which bestows them antioxidant powers and neuroprotective abilities, quite beneficial for glaucoma patients.
Foods You Should Avoid When You’ve Glaucoma
Well, foods to eat when you’ve glaucoma only make half of the equation; the other half is obviously constituted by the foods you should avoid when you’re suffering from glaucoma. So, here’s a list of foods, which can help you minimize the risks of glaucoma, while improving your overall eye health.
Salt makes our taste buds happy, without a doubt, but you better keep your salt consumption to a minimum if you are trying to keep your eyes safe from glaucoma
Same holds true for caffeine as well, overdosing in it can hamper your efforts to stay away from glaucoma. Though antioxidants make up the ingredient-list for caffeine, excessive consumption can lead to increased blood pressure, which is especially harmful for those who are already victimized by glaucoma.
Liquids are good, but only when you drink them in small amounts distributed throughout the day rather than gulping down large quantities at one time.
Make sure you’re not consuming calories in higher amounts; instead, try to maintain a low-calorie diet.
In addition to following this comprehensive list of foods you should eat and foods you should avoid in case of glaucoma, make sure you are regular with your eye exam. This becomes even more imperative for people suffering from glaucoma, as it lacks clearly recognizable signs and symptoms, giving many people the illusion that they don’t have this disease. Regular eye exams increase your odds of early diagnosis of glaucoma and any other degenerative eye diseases, raising your probability of a timely diagnosis and better treatment.