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Glaucoma

General characteristics

General characteristics

Glaucoma is the name given to damage to the optic nerve that usually occurs due to increased pressure in the eye itself, poor blood flow to the optic nerve or a structurally weakened optic nerve. Peripheral vision is lost first which then progresses on to other visual disturbances such as misty vision, dullness of colour, rainbows around lights and eventually, tunnel vision. Glaucoma can manifest slowly over time or be of sudden onset (acute glaucoma).

Raised pressure in the eye can occur for several reasons, including blockage of the drainage channels that normally drain eye fluids and keep eye pressure stable (either from actual blockage of the drainage ducts or from structural problems within the eye), over-production of eye fluids, ageing, damage from previous infection or injury, diabetes, steroids and some other medications (e.g. statins, high blood pressure medicines, non-steroidal pain killers and anti-depressants), all of which can gradually cause damage to the optic nerve.

Successful treatment relies often on catching the condition early to avoid irreversible sight damage so yearly eye tests are recommended, particularly in those more vulnerable such as the over 60's, diabetics, chronic high blood pressure sufferers, those with glaucoma in the family or those on long term steroid medications (e.g. asthma sufferers).

Conventional treatment relies on specific eye drops or surgical procedures to try to lower eye pressure or correct physical defects within the eye.

Natural healing objectives are to improve circulation to the eye and encourage the effective elimination of waste products from the eye, improve nutrition through diet and herbs, and encourage a more balanced fluid production/fluid drainage ratio.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Food, as always, should be based on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds and nuts.

Foods rich in bio-flavanoids and vitamin C, A and E should be included daily (as many portions as you can manage), oranges and lemons, berries, dark green leafy veg (especially spinach), carrots, avocados, wheatgerm or whole grains, sprouted wheat or seeds and oily fish.

Eat foods rich in chromium, a trace mineral that decreases pressure in the eye and that many people are low or deficient in. Chromium levels in the body are depleted by sugar and processed carbohydrates so avoid eating these. Chromium sources include egg-yolk, brewers yeast, romaine lettuce, liver, the germ and fibrous coat of grains (aka whole grains) and potatoes cooked in their skins. Chromium levels in food are depleted by processing.

Avoid smoking and alcohol for their harmful effects on circulation.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Bilberries are excellent for the prevention and treatment of glaucoma. They provide valuable nutrients that aid circulation, are strongly antioxidant and decrease pressure in the eyes. Use the dried berries in a tea, 1 heaped teaspoon per cup, 3 cups daily.

Ginkgo, marigold and nettle tea (equal parts) could be taken daily as an aid towards efficient circulation and as a useful eye specific nutrient boost.

A herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, Coleus forskohlii decreases eye pressure by decreasing the flow of aqueous humour (eye fluid). There are many anecdotal stories of success using this herb.

The leaves of the jaborandi tree (genus pilocarpus) from S and C America are used today, in extract form, as a useful treatment to lower eye pressure and relieve narrow angle glaucoma. The product, called Pilocarpine, works by causing the pupil to contract and allow drainage of fluids through the proper channels.

Fennels seeds have been used for centuries for conditions affecting weak vision and for reducing the pressure in the eye.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Avoid anything containing ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine such as decongestant and cough medicines. There is a strong body of evidence linking these with an increase in eye pressure.
Bathe the eyes daily in the juice of a fresh organic lemon. Drop a few drops in each eye and close the eyes gently until the eyes stop watering. This is an old, old remedy used the world over for almost every type of eye or vision problem.

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