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Are there any natural glaucoma remedies that can complement your existing glaucoma treatment? The answer is yes, and I have listed seven of the most important natural glaucoma remedies below.
But before we get into that, let's find out a bit more about glaucoma first.
What is glaucoma and why is it important?
Glaucoma is the second commonest cause
of blindness worldwide, and affects at least 2% of the population. It is a major eye health issue, and the most worrying thing is that most sufferers do not know that they have this condition.This is because you usually do not notice any glaucoma symptoms until a lot of glaucoma damage has already occurred.
Unfortunately, glaucoma cannot be cured or reversed, despite the many claims to the contrary that are widespread throughout the internet. Any vision lost from the optic nerve damage cannot be recovered.
Please remember that reducing the eye pressure does not cure your glaucoma or fully restore your vision; it only serves to slow down and reduce the risk of further eyesight deterioration. Hence the focus on monitoring: early detection means early glaucoma treatment and less glaucoma blindness.
(Image adapted from the internet)
However, high eye pressure is not the only risk factor for glaucoma. There are other risk factors such as age, family history, genes, and racial origin - these are non-modifiable, and you cannot do anything about these risks.
The good news is that there also exists risk factors that are modifiable. In other words, there are medication-free, natural health and wellness tips that you can incorporate into your lifestyle to reduce your glaucoma risk.
However, these cannot replace the glaucoma treatment that your eye specialist has prescribed for you.
Here I list 7 natural glaucoma remedies and supplements that can help prevent and reduce your risk of glaucoma blindness. These should complement, not replace, your existing glaucoma treatments.
1. Avoid cigarette smoke to reduce toxins
Smoking is a significant risk factor for many eye and general health problems. Eye conditions that can worsen with cigarette smoking include cataract, age-related macular degeneration, uveitis, and retinal vein occlusions.
Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor which constricts the blood vessels. This could potentially slow down aqueous outflow from the anterior chamber drainage angle and also restrict the amount of blood flow to the optic nerve. In addition, the eye pressure has been shown to increase by over 5 mmHg after cigarette smoking.
Cigarette smoke also contains many harmful chemicals, such as tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNAs), benzene, pesticides, arsenic, cadmium, cyanide, and many many more. These toxins circulate all around the body and cause oxidative damage to the optic nerve and worsen your glaucoma.
Population-based studies have confirmed that smoking is associated with higher eye pressure and increased risk of glaucoma. In my opinion, cutting down on smoking is one of the most important natural glaucoma remedies.
2. Limit steroid medication use
Steroid medications, whether in the form of a pill or nasal spray or skin cream, can cause the eye pressure to increase (this is called a 'steroid response'). Steroids are the commonest medication-related cause of glaucoma and cataract.
If you are taking steroids and are worried about your risk of glaucoma, please discuss with your family doctor or treating specialist about any alternatives to steroid medication.
3. Regular exercise to improve circulation and reduce rate of glaucoma field loss
The results from some research studies suggest that aerobic exercise 3 times a week for at least 30 to 45 minutes each time is able to lower your eye pressure by around 20% on average. This pressure lowering effect disappears if you stop your exercise for 2 weeks or more.
Walking at least
5,000 steps daily (or equivalent exercise) improves blood circulation
and may be able to reduce the risk of progressive visual field
deterioration. In fact, boosting exercise levels each day, such as by walking an additional 5,000 steps,
performing an extra 2.6 hours of non-sedentary activity, or
exercising for 120 minutes at a moderate-to-vigorous level, was able to reduce the average rate of visual field loss by around 10%.
Note that not every type of exercise is good. Vigorous high-impact exercises may cause more pigment release from the iris, resulting in an increase in eye pressure.
In addition, exercises involving head-down or inverted positions, such as in yoga, are likely to raise the eye pressure and may lead to additional damage to the optic nerve.
4. Meditation to reduce eye pressure
Meditation has been shown to be able to reduce stress and blood pressure, both being risk factors for high eye pressure.
A randomized clinical trial from India has confirmed that mindfulness meditation practised for 1 hour every day for 3 weeks (at the same time continuing with the prescribed glaucoma medications) significantly reduced eye pressure, decreased stress levels, and improved quality of life.
In this trial of 90 glaucoma patients, mindfulness meditation was
practiced under the supervision of a certified meditation teacher in a
group setting. The initial 15 minutes was spent on slow, deep breathing
exercises for relaxation, followed by 45 minutes of meditation.
The results were impressive: 75% of those who completed the meditation course achieved eye pressure reduction of more than 25%.
Meditation is free, safe, and has no risk of any harmful effects. I highly recommend meditation as a natural glaucoma remedy to my patients. It can be difficult to do at the beginning, but the clinical evidence is strong, so the effort will definitely be worthwhile.
5. Eat a healthy and balanced diet for glaucoma
Good nutrition and a healthy diet are important to maintain overall eye health. In glaucoma, the stressed optic nerve will be more prone to the damaging effects of oxidative free radicals damage.
For your diet to be effective as a natural glaucoma remedy, you should ensure that your foods contain plenty of antioxidants, such as vitamin A (carrots, apricots, papayas), vitamin C (berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes), vitamin E (avocados, green leafy vegetables, fish) and zinc (whole bran, eggs, peanuts).
A large population-based study of over 100,000 participants (The Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study) reported that a higher intake of nitrate-rich foods and leafy green vegetables reduced glaucoma risk by over 20%.
A separate population-based study in the United States (the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group) reported that those who consumed 3 or more servings of fruit per day were 79% less likely to have glaucoma. Furthermore, those who ate more than one serving per week of leafy green vegetables (collard greens and kale), decreased their odds of having glaucoma by over 50%.
6. Supplements to prevent further glaucoma damage by complementing existing glaucoma treatment
a) Vitamin supplements
Vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) plays an
important role in supporting cell metabolism and
Nicotinamide 3,000 mg daily has been shown to protect the optic nerve against glaucoma damage when taken over a six-week period.
A separate trial found that nicotinamide combined with pyruvate was able to improve visual function in moderate glaucoma after only 2 months.
Currently, the long term benefit of high-dose nicotinamide (Insolar by Blackmores) at a dose of 3,000mg daily is currently being researched in Melbourne.
If Insolar is not available for you, then any other Vitamin B3 nicotinamide should be fine as long as you purchase from a reputable supplement manufacturer.
Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin)
is a water-soluble vitamin. It is important for DNA regulation, red blood cell production, and helps with the function of our nervous system.
Our body does not produce vitamin B12 naturally, and so we rely on food consumption for vitamin B12. Methylcobalamin is a naturally occurring vitamin B12 that is found in food sources such as eggs, milk, fish, and meat.
Research from Japan found that 1,500 micrograms (or 1.5 mg) oral methylcobalamin daily for 4 years could decrease visual field deterioration in low pressure glaucoma.
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is naturally found in vegetable oils and animal fats. Research has found alpha-tocopherol to improve blood flow to the eye and to reduce visual field deterioration if taken for at least 6 to 12 months.
b) Herb and plant extracts
Bilberry and blackcurrant
contain anthocyanin flavonoids that are both antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory. Studies conducted in South Korea and Japan have shown
that both bilberry and blackcurrant extract could help to slow visual
field deterioration in glaucoma, particularly normal tension glaucoma.
Forskolin is an active compound found in the root of the Indian coleus (Coleus forskohlii) plant. Studies of forskolin and glaucoma have found a reduction in eye pressure and improvement in visual function with regular intake of supplements containing forskolin.
Ginkgo biloba is a popular natural herb that has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The beneficial effects of ginkgo in glaucoma are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability to increase blood flow to the optic nerve.
Most importantly, ginkgo biloba is able to reduce the rate of field loss in low pressure glaucoma.
The main risk of ginkgo biloba is the potential increased risk of bleeding. The scientific evidence for this is conflicting, with some case reports of severe bleeding from ginkgo, while other systematic reviews and meta-analyses have found no increase in bleeding risk.
At present, I only recommend ginkgo biloba to my patients if they are not on any blood-thinning medications.
SEE RELATED: Ginkgo biloba as a natural glaucoma treatment
Mirtogenol is among the few supplements that have actually demonstrated a significant reduction in eye pressure in a randomized clinical trial. It can be combined with standard glaucoma treatment to further enhance pressure reduction.
Mirtogenol has a very good safety profile. However, it can theoretically increase the risk of bleeding and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
I do recommend Mirtogenol to my patients who need better eye pressure
control, but with caution for those taking blood thinning or diabetes medications.
SEE RELATED: Mirtogenol as a natural glaucoma treatment
c) Supplements similar to naturally occurring molecules
Citicoline is a molecule that occurs naturally in the brain. It enhances communication between nerve cells, protects neural structures, and supports healthy brain activity and energy.
Due to its ability to protect nerve cells, citicoline has been studied extensively as an additional treatment in a wide range of neurological conditions including dementia, stroke, and Parkinson's disease.
Research from Italy reported slowing of glaucoma progression with daily supplementation of citicoline 500 mg daily. Clinical trials have not reported any major or serious adverse effects from taking oral citicoline.
I highly recommend citicoline to my patients who show signs of glaucoma progression despite good eye pressure control.
SEE RELATED: Citicoline as a natural glaucoma treatment
Palmitoylethanolamide (also known as PEA) is an endocannabinoid that is naturally produced in our body and in the eye to reduce inflammation and pain.
PEA is naturally found in foods such as soybeans, egg yolk, milk, and peanut oil.
Its potential benefits have been studied for pain relief, stroke, multiple sclerosis, depression, and influenza.
PEA has similar properties to the active chemical in marijuana, but it is safe to take with no major adverse effects reported in clinical trials. This means that PEA has a lot of the benefits of cannabis but without any of the side effects.
PEA taken as an oral supplement 600 mg daily has been shown in clinical trials to be able to provide significant additional eye pressure reduction in glaucoma patients who are already on eye drop therapy.
I highly recommend palmitoylethanolamide to my patients for its ability to reduce eye pressure and to also potentially preserve the visual field.
SEE RELATED: Palmitoylethanolamide as a glaucoma treatment
If you wish to combine your glaucoma treatment with the above supplements to prevent and reduce your risk of glaucoma blindness, below are highly-rated
and recommended products that
are available for you to purchase through Amazon:
7. Regular monitoring by qualified eyecare professionals
In glaucoma, the damage to the optic nerve tends to occur slowly (but surely). You are unlikely to notice the glaucoma symptoms of progressive visual field loss until it is too late.
You will be able to compensate and cope with your gradually worsening sight until one day you realize that your peripheral vision is actually pretty bad. By this stage, the damage to your optic nerve will be so advanced and no amount of treatment will able to help.
Monitoring visits should include intraocular pressure measurements, optic disc evaluation, visual field testing and imaging scans if appropriate. Remember that the aim of monitoring is to pick up early signs of glaucoma damage before any significant sight loss and glaucoma symptoms develop.
Final word on natural treatments and supplements for glaucoma
The natural glaucoma remedies and supplements described above must not replace the
glaucoma treatment that has already been prescribed by your eye
specialist. Rather, these remedies should be in addition to and
complementary to your existing treatment.
If you are considering natural glaucoma remedy supplements, please make sure to discuss with your eye specialist and family doctor first to avoid adverse drug interactions and unwanted side effects.
Do you have a great health tip or remedy for this eye condition? It doesn't matter if it is not recognized or recommended by your doctor - in fact, that's even better! Why not share it with other readers?
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Sir, The fluid that you have mentioned, I want to ask you is it the same fluid as tears in our eyes or some other fluid?
Good advise for glaucoma patients Not rated yet
Pressure is nearby 15
Good advice for glaucoma patients Not rated yet
Pressure is nearby 15
Tai chi Not rated yet
I have been doing Tai chi for the last several years and it appeared to help my visual fields.
My health tip for glaucoma Not rated yet
Do a detailed family history and ask relatives etc... If possible do a genetic screen once you have presented your family history share it with your GP. …
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