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Researchers from the University of California found that people who engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity have a 73-percent decline in risk of developing glaucoma.The new insight may prove to be important, particularly to people who have a family history of the disease.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the eye's optic nerve and it usually occurs when fluid builds up in the front of the eye.That fluid eventually puts pressure on the eye, damaging the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain.The eye disease is common in people over 40 years old and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60 years of age.
In the study, the researchers analyzed the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.The survey is a large study in the United States that monitored the health and nutritional status of adults in the country since the 1960s.
They interpreted the moderate and vigorous activities of adults based on walking speed and the number of steps taken per minute as measured by a pedometer.For example, 7,000 steps per day for seven days a week is equivalent to 30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least five days a week.They reported that each 10-unit increase in walking speed and number of steps taken per minute decreased the risk of developing glaucoma by 6 percent.The decrease becomes 25 percent for every 10-minute increase in moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.
"Our research suggests that it is not only the act of exercising that may be associated with decreased glaucoma risk, but that people who exercise with higher speed and more steps of walking or running may even further decrease their glaucoma risk compared to people who exercise at lower speeds with less steps," said Dr.Victoria L.Tseng of the University of California.
Some earlier studies have suggested that exercise can affect the blood flow and pressure inside the eye, leading to lower risk of developing glaucoma, according to Dr.Tseng.However, more research is needed to determine the direct connection between physical exertion and the eye disorder.
Types of Glaucoma
The most common type of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma, in which the eye fluid does not drain properly.As the fluid in the eye builds up, the pressure increases and damages the optic nerve.This type of glaucoma does not cause pain and no vision changes in the early stage.
The second type is called closed-angle glaucoma in which the person's iris is too close to the drainage angle in their eye.Drainage angle is where the eye fluid goes out and it can be blocked by the iris if it's too close to the drainage.Unlike with open-angle glaucoma, closed-angle can cause an acute attack when the drainage angle is completely blocked.Symptoms of acute eye attack include sudden blurry vision, severe eye pain, headache, nausea and vomiting, and appearance of rainbow-colored rings or halos around lights.Some people may also develop a chronic closed-angle glaucoma that progresses slowly and will only alert the person after an eye attack or severe eye damage.
People at Risk for Glaucoma
Some people have a higher risk of developing glaucoma and experts recommend regular eye checkups to ensure the health of the eye and the optic nerve.
- People over 40 years of age.- People with a family history of the disease.- People with African or Hispanic ancestry.- People with high eye pressure.- People with farsighted or nearsighted vision.- People who had an eye injury.- People who have thinning optic nerves or thinning of the corneas' center area.- People with other health conditions, such as poor blood flow and diabetes.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Glaucoma
You can visit an eye doctor to have a complete eye examination to accurately determine any signs of glaucoma.An ophthalmologist will determine factors like eye pressure measurement and the condition of your eye's drainage angle, and then check for any damage on the optic nerve, test your peripheral vision, and measure the thickness of the cornea.
The most common treatment for glaucoma are eyedrops designed to lower pressure in your eye.Some eye drops can reduce the amount of fluid produced by the eye while others work by reducing pressure to help the fluid flow better to the drainage angle.However, side effects may occur when using eye drop medications, such as an itching or stinging sensation, redness of the eye, changes in breathing, blurred vision, and changes in the color of the eye.
Other treatments of glaucoma involve surgical procedures or surgery and laser surgery, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
1.Trabeculoplasty is laser surgery for open-angle glaucoma.The laser makes the drainage angle work better.2.Iridotomy is a laser surgery for closed-angle glaucoma.The laser will create a tiny hole in the iris to help the fluid flow to the drainage angle.3.Trabeculectomy is an OR procedure where the surgeon creates a tiny flap in the white of your eye or sclera.Your surgeon will then create a bubble or filtration bleb under the upper eyelid that cannot be seen.It will drain the fluid out of the eye through the flap into the bleb, to be absorbed by tissue around your eye.4.A glaucoma drainage device is an implant of a tiny drainage tube in your eye.It sends the fluid to a collection area called a reservoir and is absorbed into the nearest blood vessel.