Studies suggest that patients with open-angle glaucoma who exercise regularly (at least 3 times a week) may be able to reduce their intraocular pressure by an average of 20%. If they stop exercising for more than 2 weeks, pressure increases again. (Although not confirmed by any evidence, yoga or other exercises that involve head-down or inverted positions may be harmful for patients with glaucoma and should be discussed with the doctor.)
Exercise has no effect on closed-angle glaucoma. It may, in fact, increase eye pressure in patients with pigmentary glaucoma. Vigorous high-impact exercise may cause more pigment to be released from the iris in these patients. Patients should talk to their doctor about an appropriate exercise program.
Antioxidants in Foods and Supplements. Diet most likely plays very little role in glaucoma. There has been no definitive evidence for an association between important nutrients associated with protection against other eye disorders, including vitamins C, E, A, and carotenoids.
Caffeine. Some studies have shown that large amounts of caffeine drunk in a short period of time can elevate eye pressure for up to 3 hours.
Fluids. Drinking large amounts (a quart or more) of any liquid within a short time, about 30 minutes, appears to increase pressure. Patients with glaucoma should have plenty of fluids, but they should drink them in small amounts over the course of a day.
Glaucoma can cause the eyes to be very sensitive to light and glare. Medications can worsen this problem. Sunglasses solve this problem and are important for prevention of cataracts. Protective sunglasses do not have to be expensive. But it is important to select sunglasses whose product labels state they block at least 99 percent of UVB rays and 95 percent of UVA rays.
Polarized and mirror-coated lenses do not offer any protection against UV radiation. It is not clear if blue light-blocking lenses, which are usually amber in color, provide UV protection.
Generally, manufacturers of herbal remedies and dietary supplements do not need FDA approval to sell their products. Just like a drug, herbs and supplements can affect the body's chemistry, and therefore have the potential to produce side effects that may be harmful. There have been a number of reported cases of serious and even lethal side effects from herbal products. Always check with your doctor before using any herbal remedies or dietary supplements.
A number of herbal and nontraditional remedies have been advertised as glaucoma remedies. A few studies have reported that the herbal remedy ginkgo biloba may have properties that offer benefits to patients with glaucoma, including increasing blood flow in the eye without altering overall blood pressure, heart rate, or intraocular pressure. More research is, however, needed. There is no evidence that bilberry, another popular herbal remedy for eye disorders, is effective in preventing or treating glaucoma.
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