Preventing Glaucoma with Milk and Sunshine

Glaucoma, a silent condition that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve, is often attributed to the buildup of pressure in the eye. A recent study published in Public Health Nutrition evaluated the possible connection between vitamin D levels and open-angle glaucoma. The purpose of the study was to determine if low levels of vitamin D increased incidences of glaucoma.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the body’s liver and fatty tissues. In the body, vitamin D acts like both a vitamin and a hormone, helping the body in many ways. The two main sources of vitamin D are food and sunlight. Sunlight becomes vitamin D when UV rays react with the cholesterol found on the skin. After a series of reactions, vitamin D is formed. A variety of health problems can arise due to vitamin D deficiency. The most common are weakened bones.

To complete the study, 6,094 adults were evaluated in South Korea. When comparing the vitamin D levels among participants of the study, those with the lowest levels had the highest prevalence of open-angle glaucoma. The study also found that increases in eye pressure and changes to the optic nerve were related to low vitamin D levels. The conclusion of the study found that people with vitamin D deficiency are at risk for developing open-angle glaucoma.

The risk for developing glaucoma is highest among African Americans age 40 and older and everyone over age 60. Glaucoma often has no symptoms in its early stages and is considered to be a “silent thief” of vision.

Do your part to help prevent vision loss due to glaucoma. Take care of your eyes by eating foods packed with vitamin D, such as milk, cheese and dark leafy greens. You should also expose your bare skin to sunlight for around 20 minutes a day depending on skin type. You do not need to tan or burn to get vitamin D. In fact, burning and tanning present other problems down the road.

By eating the right foods and having regular eye exams with your ophthalmologist, your eyes will be healthier and your chances of developing a vision threatening condition will decrease. For more information about glaucoma, contact our office or request an appointment online.