Taste for Life March 19

Page 23

BY MARSHA MCCULLOCH, MS, RD

Beating Glaucoma

Add holistic approaches to your arsenal Glaucoma is a sneaky eye disease. It gradually erodes your vision and can ultimately result in blindness but has no early symptoms. Prescription eye drops and surgery can help slow vision loss but don’t cure the disease. The good news: Nutrition and lifestyle strategies may give you an edge in fighting glaucoma.

Get the Facts It’s estimated that more than 2 percent of Americans age 40 or older have glaucoma, but about half of them don’t know they have it. Without regular eye exams, the disease can go undetected until significant peripheral (side) vision is lost. The cause of glaucoma is unclear, but it tends to run in families. Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve, which sends visual images to your brain. This damage can be caused by high fluid pressure within the eye. Standard medical treatments for open-angle glaucoma—the most common form of the disease—are primarily aimed at lowering pressure within the eye. Growing research suggests meditation and certain foods, supplements, and exercise may help lower eye pressure or combat glaucoma in other ways.

Nourishing Eyes Eating at least one-and-a-half daily servings of green leafy vegetables—such as kale, spinach, and collard greens—was linked with a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of glaucoma in a large study. These veggies are naturally rich in nitrates, which your body converts to nitric oxide. This gaseous molecule may help lower eye pressure by improving fluid drainage in your eyes. In fact, a nitric-oxide releasing compound is used in a new glaucoma eye drop. Other aspects of good nutrition may also help. Higher intake of omega-3 fats—such as from salmon and sardines— continued on page 22 www.tas teforl i fe.com

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