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Nutrients for Glaucoma

Discover why an integrated approach to treating glaucoma is more effective than using drugs alone.

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Are you one of 3 million Americans who have an eye disease known as glaucoma? Glaucoma actually refers to a group of diseases in which intraocular pressure (IOP), or fluid pressure inside the eye, rises. The increased pressure can lead to damage of the eye’s optic nerve and is characterized by a subtle loss of peripheral vision. Untreated, glaucoma can progress to loss of central vision and blindness. Glaucoma that occurs with normal IOP is thought to be due to poor blood flow to the optic nerve.

Prescription for Drug Alternatives
There are a variety of prescription drugs used to treat glaucoma. They work by decreasing the flow rate of fluid into the eyeball or increasing the rate at which fluid flows out of the eye. The result is a decrease in pressure on the optic nerve. Eye drops are commonly used, but may cause side effects such as burning, stinging, itchy, or dry eyes, increased flow of tears, and various other problems. While medication is generally necessary for managing this disease, I also highly recommend you integrate a natural approach for better results.

Diet. In regard to diet, you must pay careful attention to caffeine products, which can increase IOP. Avoid coffee, chocolate, and caffeinated teas and sodas. Increase your intake of cold-water fish, such as sardines and wild salmon, to three servings weekly, as they may help decrease pressure. I also highly recommend you supplement with fish oil that contains a daily total of 1,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA.

Supplements. Take the following supplements regularly for two months-this is imperative-and then have a reassessment of your eye pressure. Chances are you will have better readings.

First, take vitamin C, which has been shown to decrease IOP with glaucoma. Take 1,000 mg two to four times daily; reduce the dose if your stools loosen.

The mineral magnesium was shown in one trial to mildly improve vision in people with glaucoma. The dose used in the study was 245 mg of magnesium per day, although I typically have patients take 200 mg twice daily.

Although known for enhancing memory, the herb ginkgo was also shown to be helpful in patients with a type of glaucoma known as normal tension glaucoma. The recommended dose is 60 mg twice daily of the standardized extract. If you are on blood-thinning medicine, check with your doctor before using ginkgo.

Last, make sure to supplement with alpha-lipoic acid. In one study, patients with stages I and II open-angle glaucoma (OAG) were given lipoic acid. Of a total of 45 participants, 26 were given 75 mg lipoic acid daily for two months; 19 were given 150 mg daily for one month. The study also included a control group of 31 patients with OAG who did not receive lipoic acid. Of those receiving 150 mg of lipoic acid, nearly half of the eyes examined had improvement.

A comprehensive natural approach focusing on diet, exercise, targeted nutritional supplements, and proper eye exams is essential for those with glaucoma.

Product Examples
(below, left to right):

Doctor’s Best BEST STABILIZED R-LIPOIC ACID is the natural form of alpha-lipoic acid, meaning it’s naturally synthesized by humans, animals, and plants. Each veggie cap combines 100 mg of R-lipoic acid with 150 mcg of D-biotin, a B vitamin that helps break down and convert fatty acids.

Jarrow Formulas GINKGO BILOBA 120 MG is a high-quality vegetarian product that contains the standardized form of the herb, which clinical trials have shown to be most effective. Each capsule provides 120 mg of ginkgo.

New from Alacer Corp., EMERGEN-C SUPER GRAM III ENHANCED VITAMIN C tablets are a comprehensive formula featuring 1,000 mg of vitamin C per serving, eight essential minerals, and bioflavonoids, the latter of which enhance vitamin C absorption.

Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality NATURAL CALM in ORGANIC RASPBERRY-LEMON FLAVOR, sweetened with stevia, provides 615 mg of magnesium per 3 tsp. What’s unique about this best-selling product? It contains a highly absorbable proprietary blend of magnesium citrate in ionic form.