Glaucoma is one of the primary causes of blindness around the world today with more than 3 million Americans affected. The condition can strike without sufferers even knowing it. Thankfully, the risk of contracting this eye disease, dubbed as the “Silent Thief of Sight,” can be reduced by consuming green, leafy vegetables, such as kale, lettuce and spinach, says a new study.

According to the findings conducted by researchers from the Harvard University, there is one more reason to add veggies to one’s diet because these green, leafy produce are rich in nitrates that can help in improving the blood flow in the eyes and significantly lowering the risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma, or POAG.

The analysis showed that those who developed primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) over the course of the research studies were far less likely to include high levels of green leafy vegetables in their diets,” wrote NewsMax. “In fact, the researchers found that the group consuming the highest amounts of greens had up to a 30 percent lower risk of POAG.

There are different types of glaucoma, such as Angle-Closure Glaucoma, Normal-Tension Glaucoma, and POAG. The most common type is POAG, which is a condition wherein the drainage canals found inside the eyes become congested. This type can be hereditary and is accounted for 19 percent of all blindness among African Americans and 6 percent among Caucasians, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

The research team led by Jae H. Kang took into account the data from close to 64,000 women in the Nurses Health Study and more than 41,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They found that apart from a lower risk of developing POAG, those who consume more leafy greens, thus higher nitrate intake, are also less likely to develop early paracentral visual field loss, a sub-type of POAG, by about 40 to 50 percent, theĀ UPIĀ reported.

There is no known cure for glaucoma as of yet. But, while the loss of vision is irreversible, further damage can be prevented with proper medication and surgery, which depends on the severity of the condition. As for POAG, there can be no signs and symptoms, that is why testing is very important for early detection. Through medication, vision loss can be avoided upon treatment of glaucoma in its early stages.

These findings could have important implications for POAG if the association of higher dietary nitrate and green leafy vegetable intake with a lower POAG risk is confirmed in observational or intervention studies,” according to the researchers of the study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology. Every year, glaucoma costs the U.S. government an estimate of about $1.5 billion through healthcare expenses.

Reference

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