If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, there is nothing to worry about. Whatever stage it is, a lot can be done to prevent glaucoma from worsening and progressing further. Glaucoma prevention measures focus largely on diagnosing the disease early in its course and following the treatment regimen prescribed by your ophthalmologist.
Many people ask how to prevent glaucoma. In order to discuss this, it will be helpful to break it down into two, more manageable, issues.
1. What can you do to prevent glaucoma in the first place?
2. What can you do to prevent going blind from glaucoma once you are diagnosed with it?
1. How to Prevent Glaucoma
There are many types of glaucoma, each with its own particular characteristics. However, they all lead to the same outcome: irreversible damage to the optic nerve that manifests as degradation and loss of the visual field.
The plain truth is that there are no simple and definitive glaucoma prevention measures that you can take to avoid being diagnosed with the disease. Glaucoma is not an infection, like the common cold. You can reduce your chances of catching a cold by washing your hands regularly and by avoiding rubbing or touching your eyes with your fingers.
Unfortunately, a simple prevention measure analogous to protecting yourself from sunburn or the common cold does not exist for glaucoma. One reason for this is that science does not yet know enough about what causes the various forms of glaucoma. As research tells us more, it may be possible to develop glaucoma prevention guidelines for people to follow to lower their risk. But we are not there yet!
However, there are some simple healthy decisions that you can make, such as eating a healthy diet and getting sufficient exercise. These can help to maintain healthy blood vessels and prevent other conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol that sometimes are associated with glaucoma. Moreover, there are countless other benefits to healthy eating and exercise, so you cannot go wrong by making this decision.
2. How to Prevent Visual Loss
Many patients believe that a glaucoma diagnosis means that they are destined to lose their eyesight.
This is not true!
Medical science has provided ophthalmologists with effective tools to manage your glaucoma so that we can prevent loss of vision. As with other chronic diseases, early detection is a sound glaucoma prevention strategy.
The best thing that you can do to prevent glaucoma-related blindness is to be screened regularly for glaucoma by a total vision care professional and, if you are diagnosed with this disease, follow the treatment regimen prescribed by your ophthalmologist.
Glaucoma screening is simple and is conducted in the office of your ophthalmologist. It involves a diagnostic instrument called a tonometer that measures the pressure inside your eye. The technical term for this is intraocular pressure. Pressures at or above a predetermined level (21 mmHg) may be indicative that glaucoma processes are occurring.
How often should you be screened to prevent glaucoma? If you have not been diagnosed with glaucoma, but are a member of one or more of the major risk groups for the disease, you should be screened every 1-2 years. Others should be screened every 2-4 years.
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, then the frequency of intraocular pressure screening will depend on the severity of your disease and the degree to which it is under control. Generally speaking, glaucoma patients whose disease is well-controlled should have their intraocular pressure checked at least once per year.
It is true that glaucoma can lead to blindness if it is not controlled effectively. However, being diagnosed with this disease does not mean that blindness is in your future. There are many effective available treatments that can help to control this disease process and prevent glaucoma from worsening.