Glaucoma is an eye disease that can lead to blindness. As of 2011, there is no cure for glaucoma, but certain foods may be helpful. The Glaucoma Research Foundation states it is reasonable to assume what you eat and drink may have an effect on the disease. Many doctors are telling their patients to eat more spinach and other leafy green vegetables to help with health problems, including glaucoma, the foundation notes. Avoiding certain foods and beverages is also recommended to help with glaucoma.
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Glaucoma results from increased pressure within the eye, which damages the optic nerve over time, according to the Glaucoma Foundation. The optic nerve carries visual information from the eye to the brain, which allows you to see. Symptoms may include eye pain, brow ache, halos around the eyes or blurred vision, but increased pressure within the eye and optic nerve irregularities can only be detected with an eye exam, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. Glaucoma occurs most often in people over 60. The goal of treatment is to minimize loss of vision by reducing pressure within the eye, adds UMMC.
Spinach may be helpful for glaucoma because it contains high amounts of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These two nutrients are found in high amounts in the eye, the Glaucoma Research Foundation reports. Other nutrients that may be helpful because of their antioxidant abilities include vitamins C, E and A and the mineral zinc. Citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C; cereals, leafy green vegetables and eggs are good foods to eat for vitamin E; and vitamin A is found in carrots and whole milk. The best sources of eye-healthy zinc are lean meat and seafood. Other good foods for glaucoma include antioxidant-rich fruits, such as blueberries, cherries and tomatoes, according to UMMC.
Supplements to Try
Some herbs, which can be added to foods or consumed as teas, may be helpful for glaucoma. A few studies suggest that ginkgo biloba may be beneficial for people with glaucoma, reports UMMC. Bilberry is another herb that may be helpful for vision support. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are available as supplements, as are many eye-healthy vitamins. Because supplements don’t require approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, always check with your doctor before taking supplements for glaucoma.
What to Avoid
The Glaucoma Research Foundation advises limiting caffeine if you have glaucoma since too much caffeine may elevate eye pressure temporarily. Cut back on salty, sugary and high-calorie foods to help fend off high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, which the American Optometric Association indicates may increase your risk of developing glaucoma. Also, steer clear of trans fats, found in doughnuts and bagged snacks, as well as refined foods, such as white breads and white rice, advises UMMC. Finally, avoid guzzling large amounts of water all at once. Studies have shown 80 percent of people with glaucoma who consume an entire quart of water in 20 minutes experience elevated eye pressure. The Glaucoma Research Foundation recommends drinking water in small amounts throughout the day if you have glaucoma.