As many as 15 million Americans may suffer from chronic glaucoma. The majority of glaucoma cases are the chronic form called open angle glaucoma. Glaucoma (chronic open angle) is an insidious disease that can be difficult to detect until a significant portion of a person=s vision is lost. The disease is dangerous because most people do not have any symptoms; they feel no pain and most have 20/20 vision. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve of the eye. Only about half of people with glaucoma are ever diagnosed with the disease and of those, almost 2 million suffer loss of vision and more than a quarter million are blind in one eye. These numbers are expected to increase as the baby boomer generation ages.
About 1 in 50 Americans over 40 have chronic open-angle glaucoma and that risk increases with age. Obesity and arthritis can also increase one=s risk. Also, many studies have found high blood pressure to be related to glaucoma.
There are simple and painless tests that can determine whether a person has glaucoma. The conventional treatment for glaucoma typically involved prescription medications like beta blockers, alpha-agonists, and prostaglandin analogs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses acupuncture, herbal medicine and lifestyle changes and nutrition to help treat over 20 visual conditions including glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts and dry eyes. According to TCM all diseases of the eye are closed the Liver organ and require a specific differential diagnosis in order to select the most appropriate acupuncture points and herbal medicines. There are specific treatment protocols based on these diagnoses. Individuals with a medical diagnosis may have one of three or four different TCM diagnosis. Much of the TCM treatment is directed to restoring a holistic balance and harmony to the body based on the diagnosed pattern of disfunction.
Additionally, nutrition and diet have a role in the treatment of glaucoma. Some studies suggest that food allergies may have an effect on increasing inner eye pressure. Reducing the causes of food allergies have been shown to lessen inner eye pressure. The following are some of the most essential nutrients for the prevention and treatment of glaucoma: Vitamin C, essential fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids, black current seed oil, and flaxseed oil), alpha-lipoic acid, taurine (an amino acid), and billberry.
Exercise is important in maintaining healthy eyes and vision. Studies have shown the glaucoma patients who take a brisk 40 minute walk 5 days a week for three months can reduce their eye pressure by approximately 2.5 mm of Hg.(mercury). Finally, it comes as no suprise that emotions affect health and that stress worsens glaucoma. Meditation, yoga, tai chi and chi kung exercises, psychotherapy or a combination of these may help reduce life=s stress. Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a complementary and successful approach in the treatment of glaucoma.