Three Health Conditions That Increase Glaucoma Risk

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Glaucoma damages the optic nerve in the eye and occurs when the watery fluid in the eye does not properly drain. The buildup of this fluid causes pressure in the eye, which destroys the nerve fibers and can eventually cause blindness. Individuals who are over 60 years old and people who have glaucoma in their family are at risk for this eye disease. In addition, certain medical conditions can also contribute to the onset of glaucoma. Below you will learn the identity of these common conditions along with some preventative glaucoma tips.


People who have diabetes often develop an eye disorder called diabetic retinopathy. This eye condition causes the blood vessels in the eye to leak, and it shuts off the blood supply to the retina.

As this occurs, the retina is unable to function properly because it is low on oxygen, so the eye makes new blood vessels. Due to this stimulation, new blood vessels also form in the front portion of the eye. This interrupts the ability of the eye to drain properly, elevates the pressure in the eye, and causes glaucoma.   

Diabetics should closely observe their blood sugar levels to make sure they stay at a normal level. Normal blood sugar levels will delay damage to the blood vessels in the eyes. A blood test, called the A1c, checks the glucose levels in the blood for the preceding 2 to 3 months. Physicians routinely give this test to patients to help with medication adjustments.


This condition occurs when an individual does not produce enough thyroid hormone, and an underactive thyroid can lead to eye problems. As the blood circulates to the eyes, it causes an increase in eye pressure. Inflammation and swelling in the eyes also occur, and this increases eye pressure, damages the optic nerve and causes glaucoma.

Along with using doctor prescribed medication to keep a normal thyroid level, people who have hypothyroidism can use prescription eye drops to reduce pressure in the eyes. A lubricating cream for the front portion of the eyes is also available.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

People who have sleep apnea continually stop and start breathing while sleeping. This happens as the muscles in the throat relax and cause a blockage in the airway. This health condition affects the blood flow to the eyes and interferes with the eye pressure during sleep.

To help prevent glaucoma, place a few bricks or blocks of wood underneath the legs at the top of the bed. Elevating your head while you are asleep can help to reduce eye pressure. Being overweight contributes to sleep apnea, so maintaining a healthy weight will help to prevent both health conditions.

Glaucoma Management Tips

These preventative measures can help to manage the onset and progression of glaucoma due to any medical condition.

  • Limit your daily use of caffeine, as this substance increases the pressure in the eye and increases the risk of glaucoma.
  • Walk briskly for 40 minutes each day to reduce eye pressure. Avoid any type of exercising that could raise eye pressure, including weight lifting and yoga exercises that require you to lower your head.
  • Make an appointment at least once a year for a dilated eye exam. Dilating the eyes allows the eye doctor to thoroughly exam the retina and check for various eye conditions, including glaucoma.

If you have any of the above health conditions, use the helpful tips to lessen the risk of developing glaucoma. If an eye care specialist has already diagnosed you with glaucoma, following these tips will help to slow down the progression of the disease. Consult with an eye specialist about glaucoma treatment options, including eye stent surgery, which reduces eye pressure to prevent blindness. For more information, contact a local clinic like Country Hills Eye Center