Glaucoma is a slow-progressing disease that causes damage to the eye's optic nerve and can result in blindness. Open angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, affects about 3 million Americans. It is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Since there are usually no early symptoms, half of the people with this disease don't know they have it. With early treatment, most people can avoid serious vision loss and blindness.
While symptoms do not initially occur, as the disease progresses, you can lose peripheral (side) vision followed by central vision. Some signs can be detected only during an eye exam, such as increased pressure inside the eye and optic nerve abnormalities. Other patients may complain of blurry vision, pain, brow ache, rainbow-colored halos around lights, or red eye. Headache, nausea, and vomiting are other symptoms.
A clear fluid flows in and out of the space at the front of the eye, nourishing nearby tissues. Glaucoma causes the fluid to pass through too slowly or to stop draining altogether. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye increases, causing damage to the optic nerve and vision loss.
People with the following conditions or characteristics are at risk for glaucoma:
It is important to have your eyes examined on a regular basis to check for glaucoma. If you are having symptoms, you should see your eye care provider immediately.
To detect glaucoma, your eye care professional will perform the following tests:
While glaucoma is not preventable, early detection and treatment are the best defenses against serious visual damage. At risk patients should avoid medicines that increase eye pressure.
The primary goal of treatment is to minimize loss of vision by reducing pressure in the eye.
Once started, therapy generally continues for the rest of the patient's life. Eye drops and pills to relieve pressure are the most common early treatment for glaucoma. Some cause the eye to produce less fluid while others lower pressure by helping drain fluid from the eye.
While glaucoma surgery may save remaining vision, it does not improve sight.
A comprehensive treatment plan for glaucoma may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies (CAM). However, only a qualified ophthalmologist should treat glaucoma. Use alternative medicine as support for a healthy body, not as a substitution for conventional medicine. You should tell all of your health care providers about any CAM therapies you are considering.
Nutritional tips include the following:
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
Herbs are a way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should speak with your provider before starting treatment.
You may use herbs such as dried extracts (capsules, powders, and teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. (5 g) herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.
Although few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths may consider the following remedies for the treatment of gastritis symptoms (such as nausea and vomiting) based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account your constitutional type, includes your physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for you.
An experienced homeopath could prescribe one of the following acute remedies:
While several studies have investigated whether acupuncture can relieve glaucoma pressure, results have been mixed. Speak to your doctor.
If glaucoma is not treated early, some vision loss can occur. If you have glaucoma in one eye, your eye care provider may recommend treating your other eye as well. Preliminary studies suggest an association between glaucoma and an increased risk for dementia.
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Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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