Quick Survey: Glaucoma Treatment And Prevention
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Glaucoma Treatment And Prevention

Are There Any Natural Treatments For Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged by toxins, lack of circulation or abnormally high fluid pressure. Usually chronic and painless, glaucoma causes no symptoms except for loss of peripheral vision resulting in tunnel vision. It often begins at age 40 to 45 in about one percent of the population and if left untreated will lead to blindness by age 60 to 65. By age 80, it may affect up to 80 percent of the population.

Glaucoma is usually detected by routine eye exams that include the measurement of eye pressure. In most cases, blindness can be prevented by early diagnosis and treatment. According to a noted glaucoma researcher, seventy percent of the vision loss occurs prior to the first doctor visit.

Information on natural treatments for serious eye diseases is difficult to find. Fortunately, I recently came across the work of medical journalist, Bill Sardi. In a three part series for The Townsend Newsletter for Doctors and Patients (Fall 1995 to January 1996: for back issues call 360-385-6021.) Sardi says that the current approach to eradicating glaucoma is so fraught with side effects that it is difficult to separate the treatment from the disease.

Sardi states that, "a holistic non-pharmacological approach to this blinding ocular disorder that includes dietary measures, exercise, lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements may come closer to resolving this mysterious eye disease than standard medical therapy..."

Like many areas of medicine, the disease category known as "glaucoma" has been thought of as separate from the health of the rest of the body. Yet, as Sardi says, the causes are multifactorial and not limited to the eye.

Causes include free radical damage from ultraviolet radiation, allergy, auto-immune disease, decreased blood supply to the eye (caused by low blood pressure, vasoconstriction, or hardening of the arteries) elevated eye pressure, and toxic influences on the optic nerve (caused by various drugs, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, MSG, tobacco and vitamin-B-12 deficiency).

Chronic use of steroid eye drops can also cause glaucoma. Even the use of steroid skin creams can contribute to glaucoma. In fact, as Sardi notes, steroids are the primary cause of glaucoma caused by doctor-prescribed medications.

Benzalkonium chloride is a preservative used in tiny amounts in anti-glaucoma drops and artificial tears. Researchers found that half of the surgical failures from glaucoma surgery due to scarring and inflammation of tissues were the result of using benzalkonium chloride containing eye drops. Sardi also says that this substance may even accumulate within soft contact lens "to a concentration beyond safe levels."

Alternative treatments address the many factors involved in causing glaucoma. This includes a healthy diet, finding and eliminating allergies, improving digestion, ultraviolet protective eyewear, daily brisk walking, the B-vitamins, antioxidant vitamins, co-enzyme-Q-10, magnesium (nature's own calcium channel blocker) at least 1,500 micrograms of vitamin-B-12 a day, flax seed and omega-3 fish oils, and quercitin for allergy.

One of the finest herbal remedies for glaucoma is marijuana. In fact, it is more effective than any drug for lowering abnormal pressure within the eye, which is the main aim of treatment. Marijuana has been legalized in California and Arizona for this and other medical indications.

Finally, Sardi has found that there may be a place for surgery in the treatment of glaucoma since there may be less side effects and better long term results than with medical or laser treatment.

Eye specialist Dr. Gary Price Todd, author of Nutrition, Health and Disease (Whitford Press, 1985) says that most patients with open angle glaucoma, the most common type, have deficiencies of vitamin-A and the enzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD. NAD or co-enzyme-1 is related to energy production in the cell. NAD levels can be boosted by taking reduced co-enzyme-1 or through increasing levels of co-enzyme-Q-10, magnesium, and N,N-dimethylglycine. Dr. Todd also tests for thyroid deficiencies using the basal temperature test and for mineral deficiencies using hair analysis. Dr. Todd can be reached at 1-800-426-7581 or 704-648-9400.

In 1937, an American physician by the name of Emmanuel Josephson pioneered the treatment of glaucoma using cortin or adrenal glandular extract, and found it was helpful in 72 percent of the cases for the preservation of useful vision. Nutritional physician Dr. Jonathan Wright has found the therapy useful, although not in all cases. Josephson's book, Glaucoma, And Its Medical Treatment with Cortin , is available only through fax from Dr. Wright office at 206-850-5639.

Bill Sardi has written an excellent three volume book set on all aspects of eye diseases and their natural prevention and treatment called, Nutrition And The Eyes (Health Spectrum Publishers). Volume I deals with cataracts; volume II with macular degeneration and volume III with glaucoma and diabetic eye disease. They are all out of print right now, but Sardi has a new book incorporating the same information called How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy Naturally (Avery, 1999).

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