There are very few studies that suggest that individuals with glaucoma may have vitamin deficiencies. Some studies suggest that low levels of vitamin C deficiency may be associated with higher intraocular pressure and that higher dosages of vitamin C may reduce eye pressure.
The same has also been said of rutin. Possibly other bioflavonoids and, on rare occasions, food allergies have been associated with glaucoma. None of this is strong evidence at this time for a relationship between nutrition and glaucoma. Other eye diseases may respond to a variety of natural approaches. For example, abnormalities in taurine metabolism result in an increase in the cataract crystals in lenses of retinitis pigmentosa. Glaucoma may begin with different losses of chromatic color vision. GPC, giant papillary conjunctivitis, which occurs with contact lenses, and probably many other irritants, can be treated with vitamin A drops. Vitamin E may be helpful in retinitis pigmentosa. N-acetyl-cysteine may be helpful for chronic macular edema in retinitis pigmentosa. Antioxidants protect the brain against optic neuritis. Eye drops may help superior limbic keratocon junctivitis. Recent studies show that eye exercise and long-term physical training can help reduce the risk of glaucoma. Myopia can predispose an individual to glaucoma. Eyebright may help glaucoma.
Glaucoma is high pressure in the eye that leads to death of optic nerve cells. Death of cells leads to a loss of vision. Peripheral vision is lost first. Central vision can remain until the late stage, when 90 percent of the optic nerve is already destroyed. Glaucoma usually has no symptoms aside from silent painless loss of vision begin-ning peripherally. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and the leading cause in virtually every other country in the world. Over 70,000 people in the U.S. are blind from glaucoma — 200,000 are blind in one eye, 2 million or more have some degree of visual damage and 8 million more are susceptible. Glaucoma is more common than diabetes and hypertension, probably because of abnormalities in blood sugar and blood pressure. Therefore it is extremely important to control these abnormalities. Risk factors are being black, myopia, diabetes, family history, hypertension, smoking, alcohol and other drugs, thyroid disease, arteriosclerosis, steroids, and eye drops. Glaucoma is very often missed. Routine eye examinations are extremely important. Sometimes, glaucoma may occur with a low tension. Diurnal variations may be a factor, and therefore pressure must be checked extremely carefully.
Glaucoma is not one disease but a number of different diseases affecting the conditions of the eye and producing high pressure. There are two types of glaucoma — angle closure and open glaucoma. Angle closure glaucoma is most common in Asians, least common in blacks and affects farsighted people. With an acute attack there is pain, red eye, blurred vision, nausea. It is a medical emergency and can be cured with laser treatment, the primary definitive treatment. Open angle glaucoma is most common in blacks, least common in Asians. Exfoliation syndrome occurs in 20 percent of all glaucoma. The drain of the eye gets clogged by pigment, much like coffee grounds clogging a kitchen drain.
Pigmentary glaucoma may be more common than we realize, affecting maybe 250,000 people. Hereditary glaucoma affects young people 20-30 years old. It is, therefore, important to check family members. Over 1,000 current patients at New York Eye and Ear who have glaucoma are under age 35. There is congenital glaucoma and infectious glaucoma. The goal of therapy is to minimize side effects of medication, lower the pressure, turn the so-called faucet down, and open the angle up and let things drain. Miotic drops such as pilocarpine and carbachol can be used. But side effects are very prominent in younger patients, including possible retinal detachment. Beta-blockers, Timoptic, Betoptic, and Betagan have few local side effects but could lower your pressure and cause other problems which might affect exercise tolerance, exacerbate asthma, congestive heart failure, memory loss, insomnia, depression, and hallucinations. Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors or pills (e.g., Diamox or Neptazane) turn the faucet down. There are many new medications being tested. Nonsteroidal drugs may be helpful. Laser, surgical treatment, ultrasound, and cyclodestructive procedures, e.g., laser sclerostomy, are being developed.
Drugs that worsen glaucoma are numerous, e.g., antipsychotics, antidepressants, inhibitors, antihistamines, anti-Parkinson’s agents, anti-spasmolytic agents, and a variety of other agents that can cause idiopathic lens swelling, as well as sympathomimetic agents. As a rule, these are not prominent problems. Antioxidants are most useful in the prevention of cataracts, maybe they will someday be shown to benefit glaucoma. Antioxidants work to prevent cataracts probably by preventing damage by UV light. They also protect the aging macula.
Glaucoma also occurs frequently with increased sympathetic tone. It is possible that CES device can reduce vagal tone. Forced unilateral nostril breathing induces selective contralateral hemispheric stimulation as measured by relative increases in EEG amplitude and the contralateral hemispheres alternating lateralization of plasma catecholamines. Forced right nostril breathing produces a functional vagotomy which leads to a bilateral decrease in intraocular pressure.
Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
Dr. Braverman is a Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University and NYU Medical School, did brain research at Harvard Medical School, and trained at an affiliate of Yale Medical School. He is acknowledged worldwide as an expert in brain-based diagnosis and treatment, and he lectures to and trains doctors in anti-aging medicine.