Complementary Medicine

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Treating Glaucoma Naturally

Don't let glaucoma steal your sight!

Part 6 of a 6-Part Series

Glaucoma, which is increased pressure in the eyes, has been nicknamed the "sneak thief of sight" because the loss of visual field often occurs gradually over a long time with no other symptoms, and may only be recognized when it is already quite advanced.

Having your eyes checked every two years is an excellent example of preventive medicine. Opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists will routinely screen for glaucoma (easily) and can usually easily treat it as well. Both natural and prescription therapies are helpful.

The information below is from our free new iPhone application called "Natural Cures" — already in the top 10 most popular free applications in the iPhone App store's "Health and Wellness" category!

BACKGROUND

Glaucoma is the presence of increased pressure in the eyeball. The fluid that makes up the inside of the eye (called the vitreous humor), circulates into and out of the eye. When the flow out of the eye is slowed, pressure inside the eye rises. Holistic physicians suspect the backup of fluid in the eye may be caused by lack of integrity of the collagen in the eye tissues.

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Untreated glaucoma can put pressure on and damage the optic nerve, causing visual field loss which can progress to blindness. One person may develop nerve damage at a relatively low pressure, while another person may have high eye pressure for years and yet never develop damage.

Chronic glaucoma has been nicknamed the "sneak thief of sight" because the loss of visual field often occurs gradually over a long time with no other symptoms, and may only be recognized when it is already quite advanced.

When acute glaucoma occurs, however, one often has severe throbbing pain in one eye and blurred vision, the pupil not getting smaller when you shine a light on it, and sometimes nausea and even vomiting. This uncommon form of glaucoma is a medical emergency, and must be treated surgically immediately (preferably within 12 hours) to prevent blindness — so get to the eye doctor or Emergency Room immediately if this occurs.

Paradoxically, while synthetic adrenal steroids like prednisone, especially in high dose, can cause glaucoma, natural adrenal support may help lower the eye pressure. Thyroid disorders are also associated with an increased glaucoma risk (modest but worth checking).

Eye pressure is easily checked at your local eye specialist (including opticians) by simply blowing a puff of air on the eye, and should be checked every two years during regular eye exams.

TREATMENT

For chronic glaucoma:

  1. Take vitamin C powder (preferably buffered such as Perque or powdered Ester-C vitamin C ) at a dose of 7,000-35,000 mg a day (divided through the day — less if uncomfortable diarrhea). A dose of about 250 mg per pound of body weight was shown to decrease eye pressure an average of 16 mm.
  2. Mixed bioflavonoids 500-1,000 mg a day
  3. Magnesium 200 mg a day
  4. Chromium 100-250 mcg a day
  5. Bilberry(25% extract) 80 mg 3x day
  6. Exercise
  7. Fish oil or 3-4 servings of salmon or tuna a week
  8. Avoid caffeine

If you have symptoms of inadequate adrenal function (see Adrenal Exhaustion) such as low blood pressures and irritability when hungry (low blood sugar), treat for the low thyroid if present. Recheck eye pressures after 6-12 weeks of treatment.

Your eye doctor has a host of reasonable medications that can lower pressure as well, and using these can also help protect your vision.

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., internist and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic!, researches treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia.

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