There are numerous home remedies and natural “treatments” out there that claim to help with glaucoma, including special diets, exercise plans, and herbal supplements.
While some natural or homeopathic remedies can be helpful, none of these are a substitute for necessary medical care. Eating a nutritious diet and regular exercise can keep your body and your eyes healthy, but this alone will not cure glaucoma or prevent vision loss.
Home & Natural Remedies for Glaucoma
In people over 60, glaucoma is the number one cause of blindness. However, it is a manageable disease that can be treated to prevent vision loss.
While glaucoma can be managed, and vision preserved, if you catch it early and act appropriately, there is no cure. Home and natural remedies can help with your overall health. They can also enhance eye health and aid in managing glaucoma when used in conjunction with medical treatments provided by your doctor.
Some common home and natural remedies for glaucoma include:
- A balanced and healthy diet.
- Regular exercise.
- Relaxation techniques.
- Herbal and vitamin supplements.
- Sleeping with the head elevated.
It is important to understand that natural and home remedies, as well as positive lifestyle changes, can have some benefits in managing glaucoma, but they are not meant to be used as standalone treatment options. Talk to your doctor before using any form of natural treatment for glaucoma.
Myths & Facts Related to Glaucoma Home Remedies
Many of the homeopathic and alternative measures for treating glaucoma (natural and home remedies) are not likely to be harmful. They may even help to a degree, but they are not proven treatments for glaucoma. Most have not been shown to be consistently effective through dedicated scientific research.
- FACT: A specialized diet can help to manage your glaucoma. Foods that are high in trans fatty acids and saturated fats can lead to elevated blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems that can increase IOP and worsen glaucoma. Stick to a balanced diet that includes leafy greens, colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins and minerals, and lean meats. This can help with your overall health and minimize eye problems and conditions. Foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, E, C, and zinc can be highly beneficial for eye health. Switching out red meat and beef for lean meats, such as fish, chicken, turkey, and pork, is helpful as well. Stay away from fried foods and baked goods. Choose complex carbohydrates like vegetables and beans over simple carbs, including pasta, cereal, potatoes, rice, and bread. Getting all your essential vitamins and minerals from food is a healthy lifestyle change that can help you maintain your eye health. Foods that are considered healthy for your eyes can help to manage your glaucoma better than taking vitamins, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) reports.
- FACT: Regular exercise is good for minimizing glaucoma. Regular, moderate, and healthy amounts of exercise can improve your cardiovascular system, increase blood supply, and lower your blood pressure. It can also potentially lower the pressure in your eye, helping to lower your glaucoma risk. Particularly if you have open-angle glaucoma, regular exercise can help. Talk to your doctor about your exercise plan before you start one. Excessive and intense exercise that drastically raises your heart rate can actually raise your IOP. Controlled, moderate exercise can help to control glaucoma and aid in maintaining your overall health.
- MYTH: Herbal and vitamin supplements can treat glaucoma naturally. There are a lot of supplements and vitamins that are marketed to manage glaucoma. Since glaucoma is a group of diseases that can differ from person to person, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what combination of these is going to be the most beneficial. Typically, you would have to take a lot of a specific vitamin for it to be helpful. This can cause a host of different kinds of health problems, including stomach upset and diarrhea. Herbal supplements, such as ginkgo biloba, can help manage vascular disorders, which can seem like it would benefit glaucoma too. However, it can actually raise the pressure in your eyes instead of lower it. Another herbal remedy that does show some promise is baicalein. This was proven to reduce eye pressure in mice, but it not clear yet how well this translates to people. Vitamin supplements and herbal remedies are likely not going to cause you too much harm, but they should also not be used in place of treatments or therapies that your doctor has prescribed for glaucoma, AAO
- FACT: Meditation and relaxation techniques can reduce eye pressure to manage glaucoma. Stress has many negative effects on the body, including raising your blood pressure and the pressure in your eyes. This can contribute to glaucoma. Relaxation techniques and methods of lowering stress can help to keep your eye pressure and glaucoma in check. Meditation has been shown to lower IOP. Relaxation techniques and meditation are alternative and complementary forms of natural medicine that can be helpful for a variety of conditions. Complementary means “in addition to.” These methods should be used with more traditional medical forms of treatment as well.
- MYTH: Marijuana is an effective alternative treatment for glaucoma. Smoking marijuana does lower the pressure in your eye, but it also lowers your blood pressure. This can limit the blood supply to your optic nerve and damage it. Pressure may be lowered, but marijuana may actually progress vision loss related to glaucoma. Eye pressure must be managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in order to treat glaucoma. This makes marijuana and cannabis compounds impractical solutions due to their other impacts on mind and body. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) warns against using marijuana, or cannabis compounds like CBD, in the treatment of glaucoma. Marijuana is a federally controlled substance that has been legalized in most states, at least for medicinal purposes. While it can have some medical benefits, federal control makes it hard to do adequate research on its medical uses and efficiency. To date, no accepted scientific research supports its use in treating glaucoma.
- FACT: If you sleep with your head up, you can decrease the pressure in your eyes and minimize glaucoma. Sleeping in a flat, prone position can contribute to higher eye pressure and therefore trigger your glaucoma. Using two or three pillows, and sleeping with your head at an incline at night, can actually lower your IOP by as much as 20 percent. This is a cheap and easy way to manage your glaucoma naturally at home. Remember that this method is an adjunctive treatment. While it will keep your nighttime IOP down, it will not help during the rest of the day. You will still need medical intervention to manage your glaucoma.
Proven Glaucoma Treatments
Home and natural remedies can help you to keep the pressure in your eyes down and somewhat manage your glaucoma, but they are not going to be the entire answer. Glaucoma requires medical intervention.
Effective treatment options for glaucoma include medications, surgical interventions, and laser surgery. Medications are usually in the form of eye drops that are applied every day, often several times per day, to keep the pressure in your eyes down.
Surgery and laser surgery can improve the drainage of your aqueous humor. When the fluid in your eyes cannot drain properly, this can add to your IOP and trigger glaucoma. An iridotomy, trabeculoplasty, cataract surgery, and the placement of a glaucoma drainage device are surgical interventions that can improve your eye’s drainage. This helps to manage IOP and treat glaucoma.
You will also need regular eye exams with your ophthalmologist to ensure that your treatments are working and the pressure in your eyes is being managed properly. Talk to your doctor about any changes in vision or other issues with your eyes.
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Do Not Let Glaucoma Steal Your Sight! (December 2018). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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10 Things to Do Today to Prevent Vision Loss From Glaucoma. (February 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
Alternative Therapies for Glaucoma. (October 2017). Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Herbal Supplement May Successfully Treat Glaucoma. (May 2015). Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).
Is There Any Way to Lower Eye Pressure Using Home Remedies? (December 2013). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
Glaucoma Treatment Alternatives: Thinking Outside the Box. (June 2020). Ophthalmology Times.
Should You be Smoking Marijuana to Treat Your Glaucoma? (October 2017). Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Does Marijuana Help Treat Glaucoma or Other Eye Conditions? (June 2019). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
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