As you get older, you may begin to worry about your eye health. Perhaps a recent examination showed increased pressure behind your eyes, or a family member was recently diagnosed with glaucoma. If you’re at risk, you may wonder how to prevent glaucoma.\nTo make an appointment, contact the UPMC Eye Center at 412-647-2200.\nWhat Is Glaucoma?\nGlaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve. This nerve carries information from your eye to the brain, so when it’s damaged, you may lose your vision.\nIn fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology indicates that by age 65, one in three Americans will have a vision-impairing eye disease. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and among the leading causes of blindness worldwide.\nWhile the exact cause of glaucoma is not known, increased pressure on the eye is frequently a factor. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness.\nGlaucoma Risk Factors\nSome people face a higher likelihood of developing glaucoma. Glaucoma risk factors include:\n\nFamily history of glaucoma\nAge\nBeing of African-American or Hispanic descent\nHigh eye pressure\nBeing farsighted or nearsighted\nSuffering an eye injury\nThin corneas\nThinning of the optic nerve\nOther health conditions like diabetes, poor blood circulation, and migraines\n\nHaving more than one of these risk factors greatly increases a person’s likelihood of developing glaucoma.\nCan You Prevent Glaucoma?\nWhile there’s no way to prevent glaucoma, there are some steps you can take to delay the onset of the disease and decrease your risk of severe eye damage or blindness.\n\n\nSchedule regular eye exams\n\n\nThe only way to diagnose glaucoma is by getting routine eye exams. During your eye exam, the doctor will check your eye pressure, conduct a glaucoma screening, inspect the drainage angle of your eye, check your optic nerve for damage, and test peripheral vision.\nPeople with no risk factors for glaucoma should get regular eye exams based on their age:\n\nYounger than age 40: every five to 10 years\nAge 40\u201354: every two to four years\nAge 55\u201364: every one to three years\nAge 65 and older: every one to two years\n\nIf you’re at a higher risk for developing glaucoma, talk to your doctor about how often you should be screened.\n\n\nReduce eye pressure\n\n\nIn some cases, if a patient has increased eye pressure, a doctor may prescribe special eye drops designed to reduce the pressure in the eye and delay the onset of glaucoma.\nSome studies have shown that exercising is an effective way to reduce eye pressure, according to the Glaucoma Foundation. To that end, the Foundation recommends that patients with increased eye pressure walk or jog three or more times each week.\n\n\nPrevent eye injuries\n\n\nAnother way to reduce your risk of glaucoma is to avoid eye injuries. That means protecting your eyes during home improvement projects, sports, or any other activity that could cause eye trauma.\nWhile it’s unclear exactly what causes glaucoma \u2014 and you may not be able to prevent it completely \u2014 these steps can help ensure you have healthy eyes well into your senior years.\nFor more information about glaucoma screening and to make an appointment, contact the UPMC Eye Center at 412-647-2200.