Though no symptoms appear in the early stages, glaucoma causes gradual loss of vision, colored halos surrounding lights, eye ache, headache, tunnel vision, and other visual abnormalities in its more advanced stages. People who suffer from the disease usually require frequent changes of eyeglass prescriptions.
What is Glaucoma?
From Modern Western Medicine
Glaucoma is the name given to elevated intraocular pressure, meaning the pressure of the fluid in the eye becomes abnormally high, causing compression and obstruction of the blood vessels and the optic nerve fibers. The result is often nerve damage and partial or complete loss of sight. The higher the pressure, the more severe the damage and the greater the loss of vision. Vision cannot be regained once the damage has been done to the optic nerve. Routine eye pressure examinations are necessary to prevent the disease.
There may be a genetic predisposition to the disorder, but diabetics are especially prone to glaucoma. Other associated disorders include prolonged stress; a history of eyestrain caused by poor lighting, excessive television watching, and habitual use of sunglasses. Some physicians theorize that glandular imbalances, such as adrenal exhaustion and hypothyroidism, may be the cause of glaucoma. Others suggest that general toxicity is the cause.
Treatment consists of eye drops designed to reduce fluid production and eye pressure. Surgery is also used including procedures involving laser technology.
From Traditional Medicine
Pioneer health researcher and teacher Nathan Pritikin said the cause of glaucoma was atherosclerotic plague buildup within the eye, preventing adequate circulation and causing a gradual increase in pressure. Plague prevents blood from flowing optimally, much as a big rock prevents a river from flowing. Pressure builds up behind the plaque obstruction, causing damage to the vessels and nerves of the eye. In addition, Pritikin showed how the increase in fat consumption changed the hormone composition of the blood, in turn affecting the ability of the eye to drain fluids and waste, which further increased pressure within the eye. He recommended a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet as the answer to glaucoma. Traditional societies where such a diet and lifestyle are followed appear to be protected from the disorder. Numerous cases were reported at the Pritikin Longevity Center of people with glaucoma-related eye disorders who experience recovery of vision after adopting the Pritikin diet.
The best-documented alternative therapy for reducing intraocular pressure is mega doses of vitamin C. Another substance also supported by the scientific research as a treatment of glaucoma is marijuana, which doctors will prescribe for those who suffer from illness. A prescription is available from some ophthalmologists. Other approaches are therapies designed to balance hormones and improve circulation.
Finally Chinese medicine maintains that the eyes are nourished with qi by the liver. In acupuncture theory, the liver meridian passes through the eyes and thereby directly affects the condition of the eyes. When the liver is abused by high-fat, high-cholesterol diet and excessive alcohol consumption, it suffers from poor circulation and deficient qi. The Chinese therefore treat eye disorders, including glaucoma, by treating both the liver and the eyes.
Also, in order to take the stress off the liver, one should under-eat and occasionally stop eating late in the afternoon or well before bed. This will allow the liver and the gallbladder time to heal.
The liver is remarkably regenerative. It is capable of restoring up to 2/3rds to ¾ths of its tissue if supported by the right healing conditions. Here is a description of precisely those healing conditions.
Foods to Eat
When the liver is implicated in the disorder, an abundance of vegetables—especially leafy greens, carrots, and other roots—are recommended. Lightly steam or boil these vegetables, but include occasional raw vegetables, as well.
- Vegetable juices, especially carrot juice (occasionally spend one to two days fasting on vegetable juices if your constitution is sufficiently strong to endure a 24- to 48-hour vegetable juice fast)
- Green vegetables, especially collard greens and kale
- Chlorophyll-rich foods, including cereal grasses and their products (such as wheat and barley grass juice powders), and also microalgae (spirulina, blue-green, and chlorella)
Foods to Avoid
The following interfere with the normal blood circulation to the eyes and upset hormone stability in the system as a whole:
- Black tea
- Coca-cola and other artificially sweetened soft drinks
Herbs to Treat Glaucoma
Gum plant: boil the root and drink as a tea for the liver.
Gum plant: tincture, 5 – 30 drops, according to age or condition.
- Ice-cold baths: fill a basin with cold water. Immerse both eyes in the container and rapidly blink eyes open and shut five to 10 times. Rest and then repeat two to three times each day.
- Alternate hot and cold eye compresses. Apply a hot, moist towel or folded washcloth to both eyes for two to three minutes, then apply an ice-cold cloth for two to three minutes, rest one minute, and reapply three to four times. Repeat two times a day.
- Bates eye exercise: found in the book, The Art of Seeing, by Aldous Huxley (see The Eyes under Part IV for exercises to strengthen sight)
- Beta-carotene: 6 – 30 mg per day
- Vitamin B1: 1.5 mg per day
- Vitamin B2: 1.8 mg per day
- Niacin: 20 mg per day
- Vitamin B6: 2 – 10 mg per day
- Vitamin C: 100 – 500 mg per day
- Vitamin E: 100 – 400 IU per day