In a recent post, we discussed the signs and symptoms of glaucoma, and the importance of early detection of this group of diseases that damage the optic nerve and often result in vision loss and blindness.
According to the National Eye Institute, there is no cure for glaucoma, and vision lost from the disease cannot be restored. But don’t lose all hope – there are ways to ease the pain of glaucoma and minimize the damage done.
Because eye pressure is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage, glaucoma treatment often centers on reducing that pressure. This is typically achieved through traditional medicine such as eye drops or pills, or even surgery, but there are options for those seeking a more natural approach.
“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,” writes Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician and proponent of natural medicine.
According to Dr. Mercola, the top two ways to lower eye pressure naturally are to lower your insulin levels through diet (by avoiding sugar and grains) and regular exercise. Mayo Clinic also reports that regular exercise may reduce eye pressure in open-angle glaucoma.
Naturopathic physicians have proposed a wide variety of natural remedies for glaucoma. Some of the most popular include:
Closely related to the blueberry, bilberry contains high quantities of anthocyanin, a flavonoid with antioxidant properties. According to University Hospitals, bilberry extract or products containing bilberry may reduce the risk for developing glaucoma or may help prevent cataracts from worsening.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid that can be found in fish oil, may help protect and promote healthy retinal function and relieve intraocular pressure. In combination with vitamins B and E, DHA has been shown to improve visual fields and retinal sensitivity in patients with glaucoma.
“Vitamin C supplementation is safer and far more effective than traditional drug treatment for glaucoma,” writes Dr. Julian Whitaker, founder and director of the Whitaker Wellness Institute. In fact, he says, taking 1,500 mg of vitamin C each day can lead to almost-normal eye pressure levels.
Though natural remedies have helped some individuals who are suffering from glaucoma, physicians are quick to point out that naturopathic medicine is not a cure-all.
“No serious eye condition – including glaucoma – should be treated solely with alternative approaches,” writes Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. “An ophthalmologist’s care is vital.”
LEARN MORE: What are the early symptoms of glaucoma?