Glaucoma prevention isn’t always possible, but you can reduce your risk by managing your blood pressure, maintaining a moderate weight, and protecting your eyes.

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Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that involve damage to your optic nerves. Your optic nerves at the back of your eyes transmit visual information to your brain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that glaucoma affects about 3 million people in the United States. The most common form is called open-angle glaucoma. It’s caused by a buildup of fluid inside your eye that puts pressure on your optic nerve.

Many of the risk factors for glaucoma, such as your age and family history, are out of your control. You can take preventive steps to limit eye damage caused by glaucoma by making lifestyle changes such as avoiding smoking and staying physically active.

This article details six ways to prevent glaucoma-related vision loss.

People at high risk of developing glaucoma include:

  • people over the age of 60, especially people of Hispanic ethnicity
  • African Americans
  • people with a family history of glaucoma

Research shows that people with specific health conditions are more likely to develop glaucoma than the general population. Lifestyle improvements may help you reduce your risk of these conditions, which include:

Maintaining or achieving a moderate weight may help decrease your risk of glaucoma.

People with obesity have a higher risk of high pressure in their eyes and glaucoma. Potential causes for this association include:

  • increased eye pressure
  • increased neuroinflammation
  • decreased blood flow to your eye
  • dysregulation of blood vessels in your eye
  • increased risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure

High and low blood pressure are linked to an increased risk of glaucoma. High blood pressure is more common than low blood pressure.

Ways you can prevent high blood pressure include:

  • eating a diet with plenty of:
  • minimizing your intake of highly processed foods
  • choosing foods lower in sodium
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • staying physically active
  • avoiding smoking
  • limiting alcohol consumption
  • getting plenty of rest

Learn more about how to lower your blood pressure.

Ways you can prevent low blood pressure include:

  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • eating a balanced diet, especially making sure you get enough
  • talking with your doctor about medications
  • increasing sodium intake
  • limiting or avoiding alcohol
  • having your thyroid and blood sugar levels checked
  • treating infections

Learn more about how to raise your blood pressure.

Physical activity can help support your overall health and help you maintain a moderate weight. Research suggests that brisk aerobic exercise for 30 to 45 minutes, 3-4 times weekly, is linked to improved blood flow to your brain and eyes and lower pressure inside your eyes.

Some types of exercise, like heavy weight training, may temporarily increase pressure in your eyes. If you have glaucoma, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about whether lifting heavy weights is safe or performing exercises where you’re upside down, such as headstands.

Smoking is linked to higher intraocular pressure, which puts you at risk of developing glaucoma.

In a 2021 study published in Ophthalmology Glaucoma, researchers reported that current and past smokers have higher pressure inside their eyes than nonsmokers and that the difference is higher in people with an underlying glaucoma diagnosis.

Regular eye exams can help you catch glaucoma before damage to your optic nerve is severe.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that adults get at least one complete eye exam in their 20s, two in their 30s, and another at 40.

It’s essential for adults over 65 to get their eyes checked every year or two to check for signs of glaucoma and other eye problems such as:

If you’re diagnosed with glaucoma, your ophthalmologist will likely want to see you every 3 to 6 months.

UV light found in sunlight can potentially damage your retina.

You can protect your eyes by wearing high quality polarized sunglasses when out in the sun and a hat with a wide brim.

Research is mixed on whether UV light exposure causes glaucoma, but it can cause other conditions that can damage your vision, such as cataracts.

Visiting your eye doctor for regular check-ups is vital to monitor your eye health over time. You may need to check your eyes every 1-2 years if you’re at a high risk of glaucoma.

It’s essential to seek emergency medical attention if you have sudden symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma, such as:

  • intense eye pain
  • red eyes
  • blurry vision
  • upset stomach

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause damage to your optic nerve. The most common type of glaucoma is caused by fluid buildup in your eye that puts pressure on your optic nerve.

Some ways you can potentially prevent glaucoma-related vision loss include maintaining a moderate weight, avoiding smoking, and taking steps to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.