Because glaucoma has no cure, it is important for glaucoma patients to maintain a safe level of eye pressure. Researchers used to think that lifestyle choices did not influence glaucoma, but several studies show that lifestyle choices do affect eye pressure, which is a risk factor for glaucoma. What is not clear is whether lifestyle choices can affect the development of glaucoma (Source: Glaucoma Research Foundation).
What is confusing is that factors that increase eye pressure do not always increase the risk of glaucoma, and factors that lower eye pressure might not prevent glaucoma. The most important component of glaucoma treatment is consistent lowering of eye pressure and lifestyle choices, and lifestyle choices are one contributor.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking negatively impacts health in every way, but it is especially dangerous when it comes to glaucoma risk.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol may lower eye pressure for a short amount of time, but the cumulative effect of alcohol eventually raises eye pressure.
- Caffeine: Drinking a small amount of coffee is safe, but excessive caffeine is not healthy. One study found that drinking 5 or more cups of coffee increases the risk of developing glaucoma.
- Exercise: Aerobic exercise can lower eye pressure, but you must be careful. Activities like lifting weights can cause spikes in eye pressure, especially if you hold your breath. The effects of exercise is mostly positive, but keeping the head above the heart is important.
- High-resistance wind instruments; Eye pressure can increase when playing instruments like trumpet and oboe.
Talk to your doctor about what lifestyle choices will benefit you most and which factors may affect your eye pressure.