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Home > The Eyes Have It
The Eyes Have Itby Dave Foreman
What is the #1 cause of blindness, affecting 2 million people? No, it isn't macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy. It's Glaucoma. I have been amazed at the number of questions I get on what to do naturally for this condition. Considering the many emails and inquiries on my radio program, Glaucoma could rank as one of the top 5 conditions for requested information. Glaucoma occurs when pressure in the eye is elevated. This increased pressure may be caused by either mired or blocked flow of the fluid (aqueous humor) found in the front and back of your eye.After this fluid flows into the eye, it doesn't drain back out at a normal flow rate. The inability to drain back out causes an increase in intraocular pressure. This pressure can then slowly destroy the optic nerve fibers at the back of the eye. As these nerve fibers die off, so does the ability to see.
Symptoms of glaucoma differ depending on the type. In most cases, people go without any symptoms until it is too late. The more common complaints are loss of side vision, followed by reductions in central vision, an inability to adjust the eye to darkened rooms, difficulty focusing on close work, and a frequent need to change eyeglass prescriptions. Regrettably,many symptoms are often assumed to be age-related and therefore go overlooked. (Always report any visual changes to your eye doctor.) Glaucoma is classified into two types: acute (closedangle or narrow-angle) and primary (open-angle or wide-angle). Acute glaucoma, which is less common, can lead to blindness in only a few days. People with this type often complain of severe eye pain, headaches, blurred vision, and even nausea and vomiting. The majority (90%)of glaucoma cases are considered primary or chronic and treatment will often be for the rest of your life. Besides structural issues that may cause this condition, it's believed certain medications (including antidepressants, steroids, decongestants, caffeine, antihistamines and certain drugs used for high blood pressure) can contribute to increased eye pressure. Consult with a health care provider for a more detailed list.
Glaucoma treatments offered by modern medicine range from surgery to the application of eye drops. Other options include ointments, oral medications and various other therapies. When it comes to eye health (especially in regard to glaucoma) don't mess around. Consult a doctor and have your eye pressure monitored regularly.
Fortunately, natural medicine offers a few supplements that can be helpful. At the top of the list is Vitamin C. Research shows taking as little as 2 grams of Vitamin C daily can significantly impact those with glaucoma. Most studies indicate using higher doses (between 5 and 20 grams per day) tends to be even more effective. In natural medicine, to determine the level of Vitamin C appropriate for you,we often offer a bowel tolerance test. The test requires taking 1 to 2 grams of vitamin C per dose and slowly increasing the amount daily until your stool becomes loose or you have abdominal cramping. Once you determine the amount that triggers these symptoms, you'll know your maximum tolerable level of C per day.
Although the research is limited, magnesium may offer those with glaucoma multiple benefits.A study with just 10 participants found that taking 245mg of magnesium per day helped improve, not only vision, but also circulation.
Supplementing with Omega-3s may also be an option, especially for those wishing to prevent this condition.We have found that people who consume large amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, have a lower incidence of certain types of glaucoma. Lastly, the flavonoid rutin has been shown to increase the effectiveness of medications often prescribed for glaucoma.
Note, however, relying solely on dietary supplements may not be the most prudent course. It's always wise to work closely with your health care provider to assure you're getting the best treatment possible.
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