Lifestyle Activities and Glaucoma

If you have glaucoma, high eye pressure, or an increased risk of developing the condition, it is important that you work with your doctor to maintain the health of your eyes. While medications, laser treatments, and surgeries designed to lower eye pressure are clinically proven interventions to control glaucoma, there are some lifestyle activities and personal health habits that may affect your eye pressure and/or glaucoma.

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Some activities can directly raise your eye pressure for the time that you are doing them:

  • Pressing on your eye, such as eye rubbing or sleeping with an arm draped over your eye.
  • Woodwind or brass instruments.
  • Upside-down positioning, such as inverted yoga positions.
  • Tight neckties or collars.
  • Lifting very heavy weights.
  • Eye pressure can rise when lying flat (raising the head of your bed may decrease eye pressure

Some activities or conditions may decrease oxygen delivery to your eyes and make your optic nerves more susceptible to glaucoma damage:

  • Excessive caffeine intake can elevate eye pressure and blood pressure as well as constrict blood vessels.
  • Poorly controlled blood sugar or uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Blood pressure that is too high or too low.
  • Being overweight.
  • Smoking.
  • The American Glaucoma Society has issued a position statement regarding the use of marijuana. Read it here.

Some medications can affect your glaucoma:

  • The use of steroids such as cortisone or prednisone, by any route or used on any part of the body, such as nasal steroids for allergies, can raise eye pressure. Check with your eye doctor if you are starting a new steroid-containing medication.
  • Most medications with warnings that say, “Do not use if you have glaucoma,” are targeted towards patients who are at risk for narrow angle glaucoma. If you are a narrow angle glaucoma suspect or are unsure of your diagnosis, avoid such medications until you speak with your eye doctor.

Positive activities you can do to try to manage your glaucoma include:

  • Regular aerobic exercise can lower eye pressure and improve oxygen delivery to the eyes. (Exception: The eye pressure in pigment dispersion glaucoma patients can rise after exercise).
  • While no vitamin supplements have been shown to control glaucoma, it is advisable to maintain a balanced diet, avoiding excessive salt and fat intake. The Glaucoma Research Foundation discusses the role of diet, supplements, and alternative medical practices and glaucoma.

For more information about how your activities may affect glaucoma, please contact Eye Doctors of Washington to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.

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