Glaucoma is an eye disease caused by gradually increasing intraocular pressure. There is a slow loss of peripheral vision and gradual loss of central vision with complete blindness resulting if left untreated. The cause of glaucoma is unknown but it is thought that heredity, stress and nutritional problems all play a role. What occurs physiologically is an imbalance between the production and drainage of the aqueous humor. This is usually caused by obstruction of outflow. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness affecting approximately 7 million people in North America. It is usually seen in people over age forty and is more common in women than in men.
Symptoms of glaucoma can be eye pain or discomfort, blurred vision, a frequent need to change prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses, impaired dark adaptation, and seeing halos around lights. In some cases there are no symptoms and the diagnosis is made by an eye specialist. On ophthalmoscopic examination, there may be cupping of the optic disc and eye pressures may be greater than 22 on three successive readings.
Conventional treatment includes eye drops oral medications and/or surgery (laser or otherwise) to keep the aqueous fluid draining.
Diet and lifestyle
As far as diet is concerned, the isolation and elimination of food allergies would be helpful in the prevention of excessive fluid retention in the body.
• Avoid caffeine from any source including chocolate, soft drinks and coffee, alcohol, salt and other stimulants.
• Prolonged reading, television watching, tobacco smoke exposure and other eye stressors should be avoided.
Foods high in vitamin C, rutin, and other bioflavonoids, as well as vitamin A, choline, and B vitamins can help. These include chrysanthemum tea, mint, oyster shell powder, mulberries, black sesame seeds, lycium fruit, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, carrots, beets, beet tops, spinach, parsley, endive, and celery. These foods can also be juiced and consumed several times each day.
Supplements that have been reported to help glaucoma sufferers are:
• Green food beverage (spirulina, chlorella, blue-green algae or barley grass juice powder) for its source of carotenes: 1-3 tsp daily
• Cod or halibut liver oil (for vitamin A content): 1-3 capsules daily
• B complex: 50-100 mg several times daily (injections of B complex vitamins have been reported to be especially effective in those glaucoma cases associated with stress)
• Choline: 1200-7200 mg daily
• Vitamin C: 5000 mg or more depending on bowel tolerance
• Rutin: 20 mg or more several times daily
• Magnesium: 500-1000 mg daily (Note: this is one mineral which might be more effective when injected IM or IV since high doses taken orally often produce diarrhea)
• Germanium: 100 mg or more daily; a good natural source of germanium is Korean ginseng
• Bioflavonoids of other kinds (hesperidin, catechin, quercetin, pycnogenol, grape seed extract, etc.): 5000 mg or more daily
• Vitamin E: 400 I.U. or more daily
• Eyebright, fennel, chamomile, and Essiac/Flor•Essence herbal teas may all be helpful
The dosages for all these nutritional supplements should be based on biochemical individuality and monitored by a health care practitioner familiar with their use. None of these natural substances should interfere with the conventional treatments of glaucoma and can be used as effective complementary medical therapies.