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Glaucoma (Holistic)

Glaucoma (Holistic)

About This Condition

Look out for the health of your eyes—steer clear of this condition caused by pressure within the eyeball. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Give C a try for healthier eyes

    Reduce intraocular pressure by taking at least 2 grams a day of vitamin C

  • Go for the ginkgo

    To improve vision in cases of normal tension glaucoma, take 120 mg a day of a standardized extract of the herb Ginkgo biloba

  • See an expert

    Visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist for regular eye tests that can detect the early signs of glaucoma


About This Condition

The term glaucoma describes a group of eye conditions that are usually associated with increased intraocular pressure (pressure within the eyeball).

In many cases, the cause of glaucoma is unknown. Conventional medications are frequently effective in reducing intraocular pressure. Therefore, it is important for people with glaucoma to be under the care of an ophthalmologist.


Because glaucoma may not cause any symptoms until it has reached an advanced and irreversible stage, regular eye exams are recommended, especially after age 40. In the later stages, symptoms include loss of peripheral (side) vision, blurred vision, blind spots, seeing halos around lights, and poor night vision. If left untreated, glaucoma may cause blindness.

Eating Right

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

Recommendation Why
Uncover allergies
Reports have claimed that allergies can be a triggering factor for glaucoma. Work with a physician to diagnose and treat possible allergies.

At least two older reports claimed that allergy can be a triggering factor for glaucoma.1 , 2 Although an association between allergy and glaucoma is not generally accepted in conventional medicine, people with glaucoma may wish to consult a physician to diagnose and treat possible allergies.


What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Supplement Why
3 Stars
120 mg daily of a standardized herbal extract
In cases of normal tension glaucoma; ginkgo may help improve vision.

In a double-blind study, supplementation with a standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba in the amount of 40 mg three times a day for four weeks partially reversed visual field damage in people with one type of glaucoma (normal tension glaucoma).3

3 Stars
Vitamin C
At least 2 grams daily
Supplementing with vitamin C may help reduce intraocular pressure.

Several studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin C can significantly reduce elevated intraocular pressure in individuals with glaucoma.4 These studies used at least 2 grams per day of vitamin C; much larger amounts were sometimes given. Higher quantities of vitamin C appeared to be more effective than smaller amounts.

Doctors often suggest that people with glaucoma take vitamin C to “bowel tolerance.”5 The bowel-tolerance level is determined by progressively increasing vitamin C intake until loose stools or abdominal pain occurs, and then reducing the amount slightly, to a level that does not cause these symptoms. The bowel tolerance level varies considerably from person to person, usually ranging from about 5 to 20 or more grams per day. Vitamin C does not cure glaucoma and must be used continually to maintain a reduction in intraocular pressure.

2 Stars
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner
Studies have shown that intraocular pressure may be lowered by directly applying a sterile fluid extract of forskolin, a constituent of the Ayurvedic herb Coleus forskohlii.

Studies in healthy humans, including at least one double-blind trial, have repeatedly shown that intraocular pressure is lowered by direct application of forskolin, a constituent of the Ayurvedic herb Coleus forskohlii .6 , 7 Until ophthalmic preparations of coleus or forskolin are available, people with glaucoma should consult with a skilled healthcare practitioner to obtain a sterile fluid extract for use in the eyes. Direct application of the whole herb to the eyes has not been studied and is not advised.

1 Star
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Refer to label instructions
Alpha lipoic acid may improve visual function in people with some types of glaucoma.

Alpha lipoic acid (150 mg per day for one month) improves visual function in people with some types of glaucoma.8

1 Star
Dan Shen
Refer to label instructions
Dan shen, a traditional Chinese herb, was reported to improve vision in people with glaucoma when given by muscular injection

Dan shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza), a traditional Chinese herb, used either alone or combined with other Chinese herbs for 30 days was reported to improve vision in people with glaucoma.9 However, the herb was administered by muscular injection, a preparation that is not readily available in North America or Great Britain. It is not known whether oral use of the herb would have the same effect.

1 Star
Fish Oil
Refer to label instructions
Inuit people, who eat large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, appear to have a much lower incidence of glaucoma than do Caucasians. One study found that cod liver oil (a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids) reduced intraocular pressure in animals.

Surveys have shown that Inuit people, who consume large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, have a much lower incidence of some types of glaucoma than do Caucasians. Although there have been no studies on the use of omega-3 fatty acids to treat glaucoma, one study found that cod liver oil (a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids) reduced intraocular pressure in animals.10

1 Star
Refer to label instructions
In one study, supplementing with magnesium improved vision in people with glaucoma, apparently by enhancing blood flow to the eyes.

Magnesium can dilate blood vessels. One study looked at whether magnesium might improve vision in people with glaucoma by enhancing blood flow to the eyes. In that trial, participants were given 245 mg of magnesium per day. Improvement in vision was noted after four weeks, but the change did not reach statistical significance.11

1 Star
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with melatonin lowered intraocular pressure of healthy people in one study.

Supplementing with 0.5 mg of melatonin lowered intraocular pressure of healthy people,12 but there have been no studies on the effects of melatonin in people with glaucoma.

1 Star
Refer to label instructions
The flavonoid rutin may increase the effectiveness of conventional medication in people with glaucoma.

Many years ago, the flavonoid rutin was reported to increase the effectiveness of conventional medication in people with glaucoma.13 The amount used—20 mg three times per day—was quite moderate. In that study, 17 of 26 eyes with glaucoma showed clear improvement. Modern research on the effects of rutin or other flavonoids in people with glaucoma is lacking.


1. Berens C, et al. Allergy in glaucoma. Manifestations of allergy in three glaucoma patients as determined by the pulse-diet method of Coca. Ann Allergy 1947;5:526–35.

2. Raymond LF. Allergy and chronic simple glaucoma. Ann Allergy 1964;22:146–50.

3. Quaranta L, Bettelli S, Uva MG, et al. Effect of Ginkgo biloba extract on preexisting visual field damage in normal tension glaucoma. Ophthalmology 2003;110:359–62.

4. Ringsdorf WM Jr, Cheraskin E. Ascorbic acid and glaucoma: a review. J Holistic Med 1981;3:167–72.

5. Boyd HH. Eye pressure lowering effect of vitamin C. J Orthomolec Med 1995;10:165–8.

6. Caprioli J, Sears M. Forskolin lowers intraocular pressure in rabbits, monkeys and man. Lancet 1983;i:958–60.

7. Badian M, Dabrowski J, Grigoleit HG, et al. Effect of forskolin eyedrops on intraocular pressure in healthy males. Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd 1984;185:522–6 [in German].

8. Filina AA, Davydova NG, Endrikhovskii SN, et al. Lipoic acid as a means of metabolic therapy of open-angle glaucoma. Vestn Oftalmol 1995;111:6–8.

9. Zhen-zoung W, You-qin, Su-mo Y, Ming-ti X. Radix Salviae miltiorrhizae in middle and late stage glaucoma. Chin Med J 1983;96:445–7.

10. McGuire R. Fish oil cuts lower ocular pressure. Med Tribune 1991;Sept 19:25.

11. Gaspar AZ, Gasser P, Flammer J. The influence of magnesium on visual field and peripheral vasospasm in glaucoma. Ophthalmologica 1995;209:11–3.

12. Samples JR, Krause G, Lewy AJ. Effect of melatonin on intraocular pressure. Curr Eye Res 1988;7:649–53.

13. Stocker FW. Clinical experiments with new ways of influencing the intraocular tension. II. Use of rutin to enhance the tension-reducing effect of miotics by reducing the permeability of the blood-aqueous barrier. Arch Ophthalmol 1949;73:429–35.

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