Glaucoma is often referred to as the "silent thief" as the symptoms are typically missing until the patient one day notices a loss in peripheral vision, or until one's eye doctor sees symptoms through a thorough eye exam.
Self Help & Tips
Get Vitamins & Supplements to support the Optic Nerve.
- Recommended Homeopathic Glaucoma Pellets Helpful for glaucoma
- Exercise, such as a regular brisk walk is about as helpful as using beta-blockers medication for glaucoma.
- Antioxidants protect cells and membranes in the eye from free-radical damage.
- Some drugs for other conditions increase glaucoma risk.
- Heavy computer use increases glaucoma risk.
Damage to the Optic Nerve
The development of glaucoma is brought about by damage to the optic nerve, sometimes as a result of increased pressure in the clear fluid that circulates in the inside of the eye between the cornea and the lens.
The anterior (front) chamber of the eye is bounded by the lens and iris behind and the cornea in front. The ciliary epithelium behind the upper eyelid secretes aqueous humour, a clear liquid that fills the anterior chamber, which provides oxygen and nutrients to the front of the eye. Aqueous humor is produced continuously and then exits the eyes through a mesh of tiny holes behind the lower eyelid, called the trabecular meshwork.
In glaucoma, the trabecular meshwork begins to deteriorate, blocking the normal exit of fluid, and therefore pressure builds up in the anterior chamber, which swells, sending pressure to the vitreous, and eventually starving the nerve cells of nutrients. The nerves that comprise peripheral vision fail first.
However, glaucoma is now defined as a collection of diseases causing optic nerve damage. The diagnosis is no longer determined only on whether this pressure (Intraocular Pressure or IOL) is high.
Conventional treatment depends on the nature and severity of each case. Commonly, open angle glaucoma is treated with eye drops or oral medications. In the event this treatment does not lower the eye pressure inside the eye, laser therapy or surgery may be considered necessary.
- Physical trauma
- Harmful drugs Some medications actually increase your chances of developing glaucoma. Review these harmful drugs for glaucoma.
- Computer use Heavy computer use increases glaucoma risk. Japanese researchers have found that people who are on the computer all day are at higher risk for developing glaucoma, especially if they are myopic.
- Thyroid Have your thyroid checked, since some causes of glaucoma have been tied to low thyroid functioning.
- Genetic Mutations 2009 research found that simultaneous mutations of the WDR36 and STI1 gene are causal factors for glaucoma.
- Mercury, Manganese 2015 research has identified a connection between high levels of mercury and glaucoma and between low levels and manganese and lower rates of glaucoma.
Types of Glaucoma
A patient deemed a "Glaucoma Suspect" is one typically with a higher than normal eye pressure (IOL), but have not as of yet developed other symptoms such as changes in the optic nerve and/or reduced peripheral vision (as compared to prior visits). Glaucoma suspects could include people with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, heavy computer users, and people with extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness. They also include people who suffer from obesity, hyperthyroidism, and African Americans. If you are in this category you should have glaucoma testing regularly, and we recommend the nutrients above to protect your vision.
Open Angle or Chronic Glaucoma
Open Angle Glaucoma is most frequently seen. There is a kind of eye tissue called the trabecular meshwork, which acts as a filter for the fluid in the eye. For various reasons, this meshwork gets clogged or obstructed and does not filter the fluid efficiently, which, in turn, leads to high ocular pressure.
Even though elevated eye pressure is one of the diagnostic tests used for glaucoma, approximately 30-40 percent of patients with open angle glaucoma have normal or low eye pressure and develop optic nerve changes and progressive vision loss without having elevated eye pressure. In the case of this common type of glaucoma there are no symptoms that you will notice until the condition has progressed so that there is loss of peripheral vision. Our complementary protocol is recommended for open angle glaucoma.
Narrow (Acute) Angle Glaucoma or Angle-Closure Glaucoma
This condition is considered an ocular emergency. This results from a blockage to the aqueous fluid draining brought about by a narrow angle between the cornea and the iris that is too narrow to enable the aqueous fluid to drain as quickly as it is being produced. You might experience sudden red eye(s), with headache and visual halos, and sometimes also vomiting and nausea. If you have these symptoms go straight to emergency and call your eye doctor.
Low Tension Glaucoma
Low Tension Glaucoma is generally an indicator of poor circulation. As a result, not enough oxygen-carrying blood reaches the optic nerve and it becomes damaged. Many conditions, including brain tumors, heart problems, or toxic substances can cause optic nerve damage that is experienced as glaucoma. Also see: optic nerve atrophy and optic neuritis.
Secondary Glaucoma arises as a side result to other health conditions such as injury to the eye, inflammation of the eyes, or various drug side effects..
Congenital Glaucoma is that which begins within the first months after birth.
Complementary Care For Glaucoma
Interestingly, there is a apparently a lot you can do to help alleviate glaucoma - even though conventional treatment is pretty drastic.
For example, research has shown that glaucoma patients who take a brisk, 40-minute walk five days a week for three months can reduce the pressure in their eyes by approximately 2.5 millimeters - similar to the reduction seen when using beta-blockers.
Passo, M.S. et. al., Regular exercise lowers intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients. Investigative Ophthalmology 35. In ARVO Abstracts, March 15, 1994.
Glaucoma information tips
- Pay attention to these critical prevention measures for glaucoma and other vision conditions.
- Antioxidants Why do we need Anti-Oxidants? First we need to understand that free radicals are atoms that are lacking an electron. This makes them very unstable. In their attempt to become stable, they attack other cells and try to "steal" an electron. This attack harms the cells' delicate membranes, thereby making them a target for disease.
- Vitamins & digestion Make sure to follow these tips for taking vitamins and maintaining good digestion Always take vitamins with food. Digestive enzymes are stimulated when eating and aid in nutrient absorption.
- Regular Exercise is tied to a lower risk of glaucoma. A brisk 40 minute walk 5 days a week is a good target.1, 2
- Food sources for nutrition We can't over emphasize how important a healthy diet is for vision health. For example, of the amino acids, cysteine, is important for a healthy retina. Taken as N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), it increases production of gluatathione, one of the most important antioxidants in the eye. The best food source? Eggs. Learn more
Glaucoma Increases the Risk for Other Health Conditions
Glaucoma may boost cardiovascular death risk in blacks
African-Americans have higher rates of open-angle glaucoma, high pressure in their eyes and higher rates of death from chronic disease than whites. In a study including 300 subjects surveyed over nine years, that while glaucoma was not associated with higher rates of death overall, they did note that:
"... the risk of cardiovascular death was: 28 percent higher in those with ocular hypertension at the start of the study; 38 percent higher in people who'd previously been diagnosed with or treated for open angle glaucoma; and 91 percent higher in those who'd been treated with a beta blocker drug called timolol maleate."
The researchers also pointed out that inappropriate use of or side effects from medications used to treat glaucoma may damage the cardiovascular system. March, 2008, Archives of Ophthalmology
Glaucoma more common in cardiovascular mortality
Findings from the Blue Mountains Eye Study demonstrate an increased risk of death from cardiovascular problems in persons with previously diagnosed glaucoma. There was a suggestion of higher cardiovascular mortality in glaucoma patients using topical timolol that merits further study.
Glaucoma increases risk of falls and auto accidents
A study in Halifax reviewed 48 patients with glaucoma and 47 age-matched controls without glaucoma, excluding people in nursing homes, or other significant sensory impairment or eye disease. The patients with glaucoma were on medications and more than half of them had corrective surgery. They were three times more likely to have fallen in the past 12 months compared to the control group, and six times more likely to have been in an auto accident, and 12 times more likely to have been at fault despite driving fewer kilometers per week.
Open Angle Glaucoma increases the risk of stroke
A 2009 study of about 24,000 people over a 5 year period found that patients with OAG are 1 1/2 times as likely to suffer a stroke.3
Open Angle Glaucoma & Alzheimer's
A large 2015 study found that women with Alzheimer's had a higher rate of open-angle glaucoma.4
Related Videos:Narrow Angle Glaucoma
Closed Angle Glaucoma (a medical emergency)
Sources & Footnotes
Haymes SA, LeBlanc RP, Nicolela MT, Chiasson LA, Chauhan BC, Risk of falls and motor vehicle collisions in glaucoma. Invest Opthalmol Vis Sci 2007; 48:1149-55
1. The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group, Arch Ophthalmol. 2004; Prevent Blindness. Passo, M.S. et. al., Regular exercise lowers intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients. Investigative Ophthalmology 35. In ARVO Abstracts, March 15, 1994.
2. Physical Activity (2009) & Glaucoma, National Runners' Health Study
3. Open-angle glaucoma & the risk of stroke development: a 5-year population-based follow-up study, JD Ho & associates, Teipai Medical University, Stroke. 2009 Aug;40(8):2685-90.
4. Dementia is associated with open-angle glaucoma: a population-based study. S-D Chung, et al., Eye, July, 2015
Research and information
See Research on glaucoma.