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Alternative Therapies Successfully Used in Glaucoma Treatment

July 17th, 2009

glaucoma-condition-treatment.jpgGlaucoma is not really an eye disease, but rather a condition of the eye. While there are several types of glaucoma, and all types of glaucoma are characterized by high pressure inside the eye, different treatments have been shown to be effective in reducing the pressure. If intraocular pressure (IOP) is left untreated, it will damage the optic nerve and cause gradual vision loss until blindness finally occurs.

Glaucoma symptoms can be different for each patient. There is no definitive threshold for the IOP that confirms a diagnosis of glaucoma. Damage can occur in one patient at a lower level of IOP than another. Treatments can have different results on each patient as well, and this is one reason that so many patients consider alternative therapies.
Alternative therapies for glaucoma often involve lifestyle changes to include more exercise.

One of the causes of glaucoma seems to be related to restricted blood flow to the eye. If this blood flow can be improved, symptoms of glaucoma are likewise improved. Studies relating exercise with improvement in symptoms have averaged a 20% reduction in IOP in patients who added a mild exercise regimen of walking 3 times a week. Conversely, their IOP increased when they stopped walking. In another study, patients did brisk walking for 4 weeks for 40 minutes per session, and were able to stop their medication.

Glaucoma is NOT a condition that should be self-treated, because vigorous exercise or even yoga positions where the head is lowered can cause increased IOP and may even cause severe damage within the eye. Pigmentary glaucoma may be worsened by exercise, and closed-angle glaucoma does not seem to be helped by exercise. Any treatment path for glaucoma definitely needs to be closely monitored by your doctor. In many cases, traditional and alternative treatments can be combined for best results.

Drinking lots of fluids in a short period of time can increase the IOP. A high fluid intake is good, but it should be spread out in small quantities over the whole day. Highly caffeinated drinks have been shown to increase IOP significantly for up to 3 hours after drinking; limiting caffeine is often recommended.

Ginkgo biloba has been touted as an herbal remedy for glaucoma. Ginkgo increases microcirculation to small capillaries in all tissues including the eye without raising IOP or affecting blood pressure and heart rate. However, reliable and conclusive studies on ginkgo have not been completed. Another herbal remedy that is popular in Europe is Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). Bilberry does help some people with glare/night vision problems, but the claims that it is effective in treating glaucoma have not been substantiated.

Special purpose sunglasses that cover the entire visual field and fit snugly against the nose and face are recommended with any glaucoma treatment. They will alleviate problems with light sensitivity and glare that occurs with glaucoma, and they are especially necessary if the patient is taking medications that will exacerbate the problem. Expensive sunglasses are not necessary, but discount store colored lenses will not work. Label information should list the UVB blocking of the lenses at 99% and the UVA blocking at no less than 60%. Sunglasses with good UV ray protection will also help prevent cataracts.


In addition to writing about glaucoma issues, Beeline Buzz has also been writing for several years on various other topics including living green, home and family, organic gardening, and history. She currently works in professional antique quilt restoration and maintains a great interest in quilting and quilt history.


One Response to “Alternative Therapies Successfully Used in Glaucoma Treatment”

  1. comment number 1 by: WEL

    MXIDEX DEXAMETHASONE WARNING

    I had eye surgery and in the post-op pack was MAXIDEX (dexamethasone) drops by ALCON LABS.

    Two days later I was BLIND

    Use Google and enter EPOCRATES MAXIDEX REACTION to verify

    Or call 800-757-9195

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