Healthy diet may reduce possibility of POAG in high-risk patients

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November 04, 2020

1 min read

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Patients at high risk for glaucomatous vision loss may benefit from having a healthy diet, according to a study published in the European Journal of Ophthalmology.

“IOP is an established modifiable risk factor for primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG),” Sayena Jabbehdari, MD, department of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Illinois, and colleagues wrote. “Though effective medical, laser and surgical modalities exist to lower IOP, recent interest has shifted to nonpharmacologic dietary and lifestyle changes that patients can make to decrease their IOP or even alter the course of glaucomatous disease.”

In a literature search, researchers reviewed associations between dietary modifications, IOP and POAG. They found intermittent fasting and calorie restriction triggered cellular stress responses to improve overall health. Studies showed shorter recovery times after IOP elevation in mice under dietary restriction, possibly due to the dehydration effects of fasting. While some human studies also showed lowered IOP, varying effects have been seen across different populations.

Further studies reported conflicting evidence on the clinical benefits of reduced caffeine intake; lower consumption is recommended. Study results on fruit and vegetable intake suggested leafy greens are inversely related to the risk for POAG with protective effects related to the abundance of nitrates and the production of nitric oxide. Investigators recommend following CDC intake guidelines based on these potential benefits.

Clinical and epidemiological studies have shown the effects of antioxidants and micronutrients may be effective in the management of ocular hypertension and glaucoma. While IOP reduction and enhanced retinal ganglion cell survival following oxidative stress have been shown, some discrepancies in findings remain.

“Based on the existing level of evidence, it is therefore not possible to recommend an adjuvant treatment protocol. Nevertheless, high-risk individuals, particularly patients with a family history of glaucoma … would likely benefit from maintaining a healthy diet with a low intake of caffeine, high consumption of fruits and vegetables, and recommended daily intake of antioxidants and micronutrients,” Jabbehdari and colleagues concluded. “Future large-scale randomized clinical trials are needed to further elucidate the benefits of dietary modifications on ocular hypertension and POAG.”

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