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Why I don't have glaucoma, even though it's common in my family.

by Mark Lamendola,
Lifetime eye owner


My grandfather had glaucoma. Even my mother's last two dogs had cataracts. But my eyes are so far from glaucoma risk, the disease is not even on my radar. Why is this?

The air puff test for glaucoma gives back a number that represents pressure. The higher that number, the more likely you are to have glaucoma. That pressure results from a clogging of a port in the eye. My eye pressure is way below normal.

Now, let's look at how I am beating glaucoma, so that you may do the same.

  • A diet low in saturated fats (not necessarily low in fat) helps prevent the vascular constriction that leads to glaucoma. To protect your eyes, eat a diet low in fats that are saturated or   hydrogenated. Fats and oils are good for you, but saturated fats are not--they adhere to the walls of your blood vessels. Interestingly, unsaturated fats help scrub saturated fat-plaque from your blood vessels. So, a diet high in flaxseed oil and fish protects your eyes.
  • Of course, smoking is a major problem. It doesn't matter if you smoke directly (cigarette in your mouth) or indirectly (cigarette in someone else's mouth)--smoke is smoke and there is no mechanism that renders it harmful only to the person doing the smoking. If you value your eyesight, don't smoke or be smoked on.
  • Sugar is also a culprit. This list isn't very long, don't worry. But do limit the amount of sugar in your diet. This substance is responsible for a huge number of diseases of both body and mind--your body was never equipped to deal with the insulin rush caused by sugar. Think of sugar as a diabetes pill--the more sugar you eat, the more likely you are to have diabetes.
  • A disciplined program of regular, intense exercise does more than just develop strong bones and muscles. Those of us who engage in such a program experience what's called "the pump" and have a look that's called "vascularity." What's going on here is the intense demands placed on the muscles also put demands on the blood vessels that feed them. Better circulation means faster removal of waste and toxins. This is good for the eyes, too.

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Additional thoughts on glaucoma and the eyes

Preventing glaucoma through intelligent choices is commendable. But it's pointless if not accompanied by intelligent choices in other areas.

A common example is lawnmower use. If you see a person mowing a lawn but not wearing industrial-grade eye protection, you are seeing a person doing something that's monumentally stupid. I could be "kind" and say it's merely ignorant, but ignorance isn't an excuse here. All lawnmower manuals tell the user to wear hearing and eye protection. Common sense says that when you're around rotating machinery, your eyes need protection. It is not an intelligent choice to expose your eyes to whatever may fly off the lawnmower blade and, given the right angular trajectory, bypass the lawnmower's deflection shields to hit your eye.

In what other preventable ways can your eyes be injured? Driving with your car windows down means you are exposing your eyes to whatever flies in at whatever speed you are driving (unless you're wearing suitable glasses). At highway speeds, this is seriously dangerous. And it wastes fuel.

Your eyes are not replaceable. So think about your various activities and what dangers they may pose to your eyes. Then determine what you can do to protect your eyes from those specific dangers. And the same applies to your hearing. Profound hearing loss is not a normal part of aging. In the USA, it has become so due to very poor hearing protection practices. If you must raise your voice to have a conversation, it's time to wear hearing protection. When does this happen? While mowing, vaccuming, leaf-blowing, snow-blowing....

 
 
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