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Glaucoma & Nutrition

Glaucoma and Nutrition: Why What You Eat Matters.

Following a healthy diet isn’t a magic bullet and can’t prevent glaucoma. However, there are benefits to eating certain foods and avoiding others if you are one of the many people living with glaucoma. There are many diet programs all claiming to be the best option for a healthy life.

For those living with Glaucoma, try eating:

  • Fruits and veggies - They are good sources of vitamins A, C and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds known to protect against oxidative stress associated with damage to the optic nerve and other tissues of the eye in glaucoma.
  • Leafy greens - A diet that includes leafy greens may provide additional benefits to patients with glaucoma. Research shows that people who eat more leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach may have a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of developing the disease. Eating leafy greens is also linked to lower rates of inflammation, cancer, heart disease and even macular degeneration, so you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
  • Nuts and seeds – These are an excellent source of vitamin E, which is vital in keeping cells healthy and protecting them from damage that can break down the protective retinal tissues in the eye.
  • Fish – Fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and halibut contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease glaucoma related pressure in the eye.
  • Chocolate  - Studies have shown adults who ate dark chocolate could see better, possibly due to enhanced blood flow caused by antioxidants in the chocolate.
  • Sources of Magnesium – Foods high in magnesium such as bananas, avocados, and black beans may benefit people with glaucoma by improving blood flow to the eye.

On the flip side there are foods people living with glaucoma should avoid. Foods that contribute to metabolic syndrome, obesity, blood pressure abnormalities and diabetes are risk factors for primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). Therefore, a diet that helps maintain normal blood pressure and blood glucose concentrations helps to reduce substantial risk for glaucoma.

Caloric intake is another factor for glaucoma patients. One study found that healthy caloric restriction can positively affect the eyes, making it more likely to trigger what the researchers refer to as “anti-aging mechanisms”, helping them limit ocular dysfunction. Diets high in carbohydrates have also been correlated with a greater risk of glaucoma, while a lower intake of carbohydrates correlates with lesser risk.

Understanding how diet can impact the risk of glaucoma and following healthy dietary guidelines can play an essential role in the lives of people living with glaucoma.

To access the full article on how nutrition affects glaucoma, click here.