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    No strategies exist to lower glaucoma risk; healthy habits offer starting point

     

    Six suggestions

    Dr. Pasquale emphasized that there is not any particular proven strategy to prevent glaucoma, but he shared six suggestions that show promise:

    1. Eat many green, leafy vegetables. “These are a great source of nitrates that can be converted into nitric oxide,” Dr. Pasquale said. “In primary open-angle glaucoma, there is impaired nitric oxide signaling.” There are drugs in development that will target this highly druggable pathway, he added.

    1. Protect the eyes from the sun starting at an early age. “There is considerable evidence that sunlight reflected off water and snow may be associated with an increased risk of exfoliation syndrome,” Dr. Pasquale said. “A good strategy to start in your younger years is to protect your eyes from the sun.”

    1. Maintain good dental health. This strategy may sound odd initially, but there is a theory that periodontal disease could trigger neuroinflammatory markers that reside in the base of the tooth and travel via the blood to the optic nerve. “At least two studies show that those with poor dental health had a greater open-angle glaucoma risk,” he said.

    1. Exercise in moderation. Moderate exercise is associated with a lower intraocular pressure (IOP), but vigorous exercise appears to be associated with primary open-angle glaucoma.

    1. People should see an ophthalmologist regularly, especially if there is a family history of glaucoma. Dr. Pasquale is involved with a NEIGHBORHOOD[VC1]  consortium focused on finding common gene variants for glaucoma. “We hope this effort will translate into people finding out earlier if they are at an increased risk for glaucoma,” Dr. Pasquale said.

    1. Maintain a healthy body weight. A higher body weight and body mass index are associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes risk. They could also lead to an elevated IOP. However, someone who is thin, has a low body mass index, low blood pressure, and cold hands and feet could have a disturbed autoregulation, leading to an increased risk of normal tension glaucoma.

     

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