High eye pressure, also known as ocular hypertension, is a common condition in people over 40 in which fluid drains too slowly from the eye. Left untreated, high eye pressure can lead to glaucoma. Glaucoma causes permanent damage to the optic nerve and limits peripheral vision. Visit your eye doctor at least every two years to have your eye pressure tested. If you are diagnosed with high eye pressure, several lifestyle changes can alleviate this condition before your vision is affected.
Increase healthy fluid intake. Sip 8 to 10 glasses of healthy liquids frequently throughout the day to stay sufficiently hydrated. Avoid sugary, caffeinated, carbonated and alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration. Consuming large quantities of liquids in a short time will also increase eye pressure.
Include a brisk 20-minute walk, swimming or bicycling in your daily routine. According to Johns Hopkins University's Wilmer Eye Institute, regular aerobic exercise will help reduce eye pressure by up to 25 percent over time, as well as blood flow to the optic nerve and retina. Certain high-impact aerobic activities like running, however, are known to increase eye pressure.
Exercise your eyes. Hours staring at the computer screen or television set is not conducive to eye health. Limit your time in front of each to give your eyes some rest. Periodically close your eyes or rotate them in circles to restore energy and improve the circulation of blood to the eyes. This will help drain excess fluids, toxins and congestion.
Manage stress levels. Stress is capable of increasing eye pressure by as much as 10 mm. Stress-reducing activities such as tai chi, yoga, visualization techniques and meditation are good examples of stress-reducing exercises that may have a positive impact on eye pressure.
Eat a balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruit. According to the Natural Eye Care Encyclopedia, vitamin C and Ginkgo biloba lower eye pressure by as much as 5 to 7 mm by reducing inflammation, decreasing fluid production and increasing the circulation of blood to the eyes. The Glaucoma Research Foundation, however, has determined that the studies done to date are not sufficiently adequate to support these claims. Supplements such as vitamins C and E, Omega-3 fatty acids and beta carotene do help to protect your optic nerve from damage. Avoid processed foods with artificial sweeteners, MSG, grains, polyunsaturated vegetable oils and refined sugar.
Should alternative methods not succeed in lowering eye pressure, there are a variety of medicines that either help to drain eye fluid, or cause the eye to produce less of it. There are also minimally invasive surgeries that will drain fluid to reduce pressure.
While high eye pressure is one of the main risk factors for glaucoma, it does not necessarily lead to that eye disorder. A person's ability to manage high eye pressure and its effects varies by individual. Therefore, patients with low eye pressure can still develop glaucoma. Extremely high eye pressure alone can cause varying degrees of vision loss, including blindness. It is important to schedule routine visits with a health care professional to monitor eye pressure.