Natural Alternatives for Treating Glaucoma
Glaucoma in older people is a condition that affects the inner eye. The eye is a contained elliptical shaped “ball” which has inner divisions. This ball maintains its shape because of viscous fluid-filled chambers. When there is pressure built up in these chambers, it causes pressure on the retina and optic nerve. Over time, this pressure leads to damage and loss of vision. In seniors, untreated glaucoma is a primary cause of blindness.
Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is painless, developing gradually so it usually remains undiagnosed unless the individual is specifically tested for this condition. There is peripheral vision lost, resulting in a “tunnel vision”. Seniors may also start seeing halos around lights. Some may experience blurred vision and severe pain in the eye.
If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of glaucoma, seek prompt and competent medical evaluation. Openly communicate with your health care professionals that you have this condition or if you are at risk, so that your medications may be adjusted as needed. It is recommended to undergo formal screening checks at least once every two to five years. This should increase to annual checks for those who are at high risk.
According to the National Eye Institute, there is no cure for glaucoma as vision lost from this disease can no longer be restored. Despite this, however, there are ways to alleviate pain and minimize the damage done.
Treating glaucoma is mostly focused on reducing eye pressure, as this is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage. Although this is usually done with the use of traditional medicine like pills, eye drops, or surgery, there are other alternatives such as natural medicine.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician and advocate of natural medicine attests, “As surprising as it may sound, the same lifestyle changes that lower blood pressure typically also work to lower your eye pressure, thereby helping to prevent and even treat glaucoma without a risk of side effects.” Dr. Mercola further explains that one can naturally lower eye pressure with regular exercise and a diet that has no sugar and grains to lower insulin levels.
According to a study published in Alternative Medicine Review in 2001, certain nutrients may be helpful for treating individuals with glaucoma. Here are some of the most popular natural remedies for glaucoma as recommended by naturopathic physicians:
Bilberry is one of the trusted herbal medicines that is widely recommended for eye health. It contains high quantities of anthocyanin which promotes circulation in the small capillaries around the eyes. Bilberry extract or products are said to help lower the risk of developing glaucoma.
Fish oil contains DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that helps promote healthy retinal function and relieve intraocular pressure. When combined with vitamins B and E, DHA has been proven to improve visual fields and retinal sensitivity in individuals with glaucoma.
Dr. Julian Whitaker, founder and director of the Whitaker Wellness Institute, recommends taking 1,500 mg of vitamin C everyday to achieve almost-normal eye pressure levels. According to him, “Vitamin C supplementation is safer and far more effective than traditional drug treatment for glaucoma.”
Ginkgo Biloba helps improve microcirculation in the brain, resulting in positive effects to ocular blood flow. This natural medicine has antithrombotic and blood thinning properties. It is especially recommended as an alternative natural remedy for normal and high tension glaucoma patients.
This deep yellow-orange Indian spice has become well-known for its polyphenol compound, curcumin, which has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and neuroprotective properties. There is about 2-5% curcumin content in turmeric powder. Turmeric is also known to have blood thinning properties that improve circulation.
While these natural alternatives to treating glaucoma offer a fresh and more practical approach for seniors with this disease, please always consult your doctor first before applying any of these options to ensure that you implement the appropriate treatment for you or your senior.