Despite the number of people going blind and experiencing some sort of visual problems, a whopping 74% of 1,000 respondents in a study conducted by Glaucoma Research Foundation, admitted that they only visit the doctor to have their eyes checked about once every two years. Though blindness ranked third as people’s major fear, there is an immediate lack in the initiative to improve eyesight.
Important Things To Know About Glaucoma
Glaucoma is one of the most common factors that can cause blindness. Though it can be cured in several ways, it has caused blindness because people do not know that they have it. In the US alone, according to studies, there are already around 2.2 million Americans who have glaucoma. From this number, only half knows that they already have it. In the United States alone, around 12% of the glaucoma patients develop blindness. According to World Health Organization, this condition is considered the second most common cause of blindness in the world.
In terms of the economic impact, it accounts for more than 10 million visits to doctors annually. In the US this accounts for $1.5 billion worth of medical expenses for both surgical and pharmaceutical treatments. One of the most important things that people need to know in order to prevent Glaucoma, is to first know what the condition is. They should know what are the risk factors and the symptoms that come with this all to common health condition.
What is Glaucoma?
Considered as the silent thief of sight, Glaucoma is a condition where there is an increase in the intraocular pressure creating optic neuropathy. The increase in intraocular pressure has been caused by the lack of aqueous humour drainage. Basically, there are two different types of Glaucoma. It can either be an open angle or a closed angle glaucoma (or narrow angle glaucoma). The angle would refer to the part between the iris and cornea. This is the area where the trabecular meshwork can be found. Trabecular meshwork is responsible for the fluid not accumulating in the eyes.
There are different symptoms that can be associated with Glaucoma. Loss of peripheral vision is typically the case when it comes to having glaucoma. However, this is not really something that you can trace immediately. Majority of glaucoma patients would typically just notice loss of peripheral vision in the later stages of the condition. The scary part about having Glaucoma is the fact that you can never regain your sight after it is gone. Treatment, therefore is targeted towards preventing more visual loss. So what are the things that should alarm you? These symptoms could mean glaucoma.
Common Glaucoma Symptoms
Halos when looking at lights
Loss of vision
Redness in the eyes
Pain inside the eyes
An eye that looks hazy
Once that you have felt any of these things, it is imperative that you have your self diagnosed by a medical professional. Typically, the physicians would assess the dilation of the pupils. Also, the focus of the exam would typically be on the thorough assessment of an ophthalmologist.
Causes of Glaucoma
There are different things that could be associated with the condition. There are some activities that could worsen the already present Glaucoma. One of the best examples is drinking caffeinated drinks. Drinking caffeine, when you have Glaucoma, can typically worsen the situation. On the other hand, this doesn’t normally affect a person without the condition.
So what is really the cause of glaucoma? Glaucoma is characterized by the accumulation of aqueous humour. The reason why this scenario is happening differs from one case to the other. There are some instances when the cause of blockage is idiopathic in nature while there are also occasions when it has been caused by either blunt or chemical injuries. Though these are less common causes of Glaucoma, these injuries could happen in different occasions.
If you are looking to prevent Glaucoma, it is imperative to know the risk factors that would relate to the condition. Among the individuals at risk of having Glaucoma are those who are over the age of 40 with familial history of the condition. In terms of ethnicity, there are some races that are more likely to contract such conditions than others. African Americans, Irish, Japanese, Scandinavian and Hispanics are among the few that are more prone to having Glaucoma, according to research. Diabetes patients are also at risk of having glaucoma, as well as those under a certain steroid medication like prednisone.
Closed/Narrow Angle Glaucoma
Differentiating open angle from narrow angle glaucoma can be crucial especially in choosing treatment modalities. What sets apart open angle glaucoma is that it is not acute in nature. It has a gradual decrease in your vision and it progressively reduces the visual field, as your optic nerve gets more and more damaged.
The rare type of glaucoma, on the other hand, is the closed type of glaucoma. Only 10% of cases in the United States are closed angle type. Patients with narrow angle glaucoma typically experience sudden acute pain, while seeing halos around lights. Also, it is common to see red eye and an intraocular pressure of more than 30 mmHg. Because of these symptoms, it is common to experience vomiting and nausea in different occasions. Upon inspection, the doctor will also notice fixed and mid-dilated pupils. This type of problem is typically an emergency since it could cause blindness significantly quicker than open angle glaucoma.
In terms of pathophysiology, open and closed angle glaucoma differs from each other. Open angle glaucoma has a decreased flow of aqueous humour through the trabecular meshwork. When it comes to the closed angle, the iridocorneal angle is completely closed, which is why the aqueous fluid can’t flow from the posterior to the anterior chamber of the trabecular network.
Natural Treatment of Glaucoma
There are different ways to decrease the damage brought by Glaucoma. The mainstay treatments for Glaucoma are basically pharmaceutical and surgical modalities. What most people do not know is that there are natural options that patients can always look into whenever dealing with Glaucoma. Medications and surgeries are all focused on decreasing the amount of intraocular pressure. The problems with such methods is that they have systemic and other types of side effects.
It is important to look into the natural options that you can use in order to prevent such condition. Here are some tips on how you can lower your intraocular pressure without relying on medications and surgeries.
1. Manage Insulin Levels
According to research, those who have diabetes are at risk of having glaucoma. Since diabetes and hypertension are tied together, it is imperative that you always manage your insulin levels. You want to avoid food groups that are considered simple sugars. Simple sugars can immediately spike your insulin level and therefore, could potentially increase the intraocular pressure in your eyes.
You want to make sure that you just control your intake with breads, rice and pastas. Another thing that you need to do in order to keep your insulin level down to a manageable level is to exercise regularly. Exercise burns calories including the carbohydrates that you are taking in from foods.
2. Improve Your Diet
High blood pressure is one of the reasons for an increased intraocular pressure. This is the reason why diet is important to alleviate increases in intraocular pressure. There are some things that can prevent eye problems while also giving benefits to your cardiovascular health at the same time. This is the reason why good amounts of omega 3’s are needed by the body in order to prevent and alleviate glaucoma. If you can’t eat a sufficient number of fish and sea foods in your diet, it is recommended that you supplement with a high quality Omega-3 supplement.
When eating green leafy vegetables, you are not only preventing high blood pressure but also promoting eyesight thanks to the lutein in these foods. Lutein is considered a carotenoid that has been proven to protect the cells and the eyes as it functions as an antioxidant.
Aside from lutein, zeaxanthin is also another type of antioxidant carotenoid that has been known to function the same as lutein. This is found in egg yolks and spinach. When consuming eggs, you want to maximize the absorption of zeaxanthin, you want to make sure that you do not thoroughly cook the egg. High temperature renders the zeaxanthin useless. For the optimal absorption try to avoid scrambled eggs, instead choose poached or soft boiled eggs to get the most benefit out of your egg.
Bioflavonoids are known to strengthen the capillaries that would carry the nutrients to your eye muscles, thus preventing macular degeneration. One of the best sources of bioflavonoids is the dark colored berries. While the berries do contain sugar, it is mitigated by the high amounts of fiber. Slowing the release of the sugar in your body which results in a less dramatic insulin spike.
3. Eye Exercises
Doctors will require glaucoma patients to do certain exercises in order to relax the eyes. For instance, palming is one of the best exercises that can relax the eyes. This involves covering the eyes with your palms (without any pressure on the eyeballs). The rationale for this is that the eyes experience a state of relaxation in darkness similar to when you are sleeping. Also, another effective type of exercise is to have your eyes move from left to right and up and down. These motions can help relax the eyes and reduce your chances of developing Glaucoma and help treat the condition as well.