Eyes | August 29, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Glaucomas is the term used to describe a group of eye disorders characterised by progressive nerve damage and associated with interocular pressure (IOC). Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide affecting people of all ages, but mainly people over the age of sixty.
The eye produces a transparent fluid, called aqueous humor, which maintains the pressure in the eye. Aqueous humor contains low concentations of proteins to nourish the eye and helps transport antioxidants to protect the eye, it contains immunoglobins to provide immune protection against pathagens, and helps protect the eye from dust and other debri, amongst other things.
The aqueous humor is produced by the eye in an area called the ciliary body located behind the iris in the postural chamber. It then makes its way through the pupil to the front of the eye, the anterior chamber, and is released through drainage canals between the iris and the cornea, the “angle”. This drainage system involves a trabecular meshwork, a tiny porous triangle of connective tissue and cells with regions of filtration and is not as simple as it sounds, involving many physiological processes.
Normally the aqueous fluid is kept in-balance by the drainage system. When this process malfunctions, an imbalance occurs and fluid in the eye increases, causing eye pressure to reach unhealthy levels.
Fluid build-up in the eye puts pressure on the optic nerve.
If only a small amount of pressure is detected then it is called low-tension glaucoma or normal-tension glaucoma.
Primary glaucoma - is when the cause is unknown. This is most common.
Secondary glaucoma - the cause is known.
This could include:
It is the cause that prevents efficient drainage and results in optic nerve damage.
There are many forms of glaucoma but most will fall into two main categories.
You may not be aware you have open-angle glaucoma as the symptoms are painless and can take months to years to develop. Blind spots and patches of lost vision may happen and not be noticed. As the patches merge, peripheral vision is lost first with people developing tunnel vision, looking straight ahead and may not notice till central vison is lost. Both eyes can be affected with symptoms occucing separately.
Open-angle is the most common type of glaucoma and is caused from microscopic build-up in the drainage canals. The canals appear open when examined, but drainage is limited and inadequate leading to fluid build- up and pressure over time.
Closed-angle glaucoma, is due to the angle between the iris and cornea being too narrow. On examination the canals are visibly blocked. The blockage can occur suddenly and described as acute closed-angle glaucoma or slowly and known as chronic closed-angle glaucoma.
In Acute closed-angle glaucoma the pressure builds up quickly. Symptoms of severe pain, headaches, nausea and vomiting, pressure in the eyes, redness and blurred vision. If not treated quickly people can lose their vision within a 2-3 hours. This is considered an emergency conditions and medical treatment should be sought immediately.
Chronic closed-angle glaucoma develops over time with symptoms similar to open-angle glaucoma. Some people may experience redness, discomfort, blurred vision, or headaches that diminishes with sleep. The eye pressure may be normal but usually is higher in the affected eye.
A doctor will diagnose glaucoma.
Other conditions that may cause interocular pressure to increase include allergies and drug sensitivities.
The high interocular pressure can also impair circulation and lead to ischemia (a shortage of oxygen) and free radical damage to tissue and nerves.
Medical treatment involves lifetime medication or surgery with the aim being to reduce fluid pressure, preventing further nerve damage. This is done by reducing the amount of fluid produced or increasing fluid removal. If blindness occurs it is irreversible.
Glaucoma is serious and can lead to permanent blindness so always follow your doctor’s advice. Any natural therapies are aimed at supporting existing medication and the general health of the eyes.
It has become apparent that obesity and diet may play a role in the development and treatment of glaucoma. Diabetes and hypertension are also associated with obesity and so the suggestion remains maintain a healthy weight and eat plenty of antioxidant – rich fruit and vegetables. Include a cup of green tea, rich in polyphenols which can also support eye health.
Support eye health by consuming a healthy diet which includes fruits and vegetables. These are high in antioxidants such as anthocyanins that can protect the body from disease.
Nutrients such as zinc, bioflavonoids and Vitamin C are particularly beneficial for eye health.
Choose the herbs gingko biloba and bilberry for circulation and antioxidant support.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) such as salmon oil, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, have numerous benefits owing to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Antioxidant and collagen integrity – Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, alpha lipoic acid, bilberry and gingko biloba. The vitreous humor has its own antioxidant system of protection, but the endothelial cells of the tissue matrix in the anterior chamber are under continuous attack by free radical oxidation, which is thought to be a possible causative factor in the development of glaucoma. Antioxidant can also help if you have glaucoma by protecting optic nerve cells.
Nerve support – B1 (deficiency leads to nerve damage), B12, folic acid.
Deficiencies of Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B12, folic acid or the mineral chromium, may play a role in glaucoma.
Water - Sipping on 6 -8 glasses of water throughout the day has been shown to reduce IOP.
Reduce caffeine intake
Exercise has been shown to reduce IOC along with the reducing blood pressure and pre – diabetes, risk factors for glaucoma. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise.
The Trabecular Meshwork: A Basic Review of Form and Function https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4209746/
Osiecki, Henry; The Physicians’ Handbook of Clinical Nutrition 7th edition, Bio Concepts, QLD, Aust.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024720/ The Eye, Oxidative Damage and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
The Role of Diet in Glaucoma: A Review of the Current Evidence https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5997592/