Glaucoma is a serious eye condition characterised by an increase of pressure within the eye ball, called intraocular pressure. It is similar to high blood pressure in the body. The condition is therefore, also known as hypertension of the eye.
A certain amount of intraocular pressure is considered necessary, but too much can cause damage to the eye and may result in vision loss. Glaucoma is the major cause of blindness among adults today. One out of every eight blind persons is a victim of glaucoma. Far sighted persons are more prone to develop this disease than near sighted ones.
The first symptom of glaucoma is the appearance of halos or coloured rings round distant objects, when seen at night. In this condition, the iris is usually pushed forward, and the patient often complains of constant pain in the region of the brow, near the temples and the cheeks.
Headaches are not uncommon. There is gradual impairment of vision as glaucoma develops, and this may ultimately result in blindness if proper steps are not taken to deal with the disease in the early stages.
Medical science regards severe eye-strain or prolonged working under bad lighting conditions as the chief causes of glaucoma. But, in reality, the root cause of glaucoma is a highly toxic condition of the system due to dietetic errors, a faulty life style and the prolonged use of suppressive drugs for the treatment of other diseases. Eye-strain is only a contributory factor.
Glaucoma is also caused by prolonged stress and is usually a reaction of adrenal exhaustion. The inability of the adrenal glands to produce aldosterone results in excessive loss of salt from the body and a consequent accumulation of fluid in the tissues. In the region of the eyes, the excess fluid causes the eye ball to harden losing its softness and resilience. Glaucoma has also been associated with giddiness, sinus conditions, allergies, diabetes, hypoglycemia, arteriosclerosis and an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system.
The modern medical treatment for glaucoma is through surgery which relieves the internal pressure in the eye due to excess fluid. This, however, does not remove the cause of the presence of the excess fluid. Consequently, even after the operation, there is no guarantee whatsoever that the trouble will not recur, or that it will not affect the other eye. The natural treatment for glaucoma is same as that for any other condition associated with high toxicity and is directed towards preserving whatever sight remains. If treated in the early stages, the results are encouraging. Though cases of advanced glaucoma may be beyond a cure, even so certain nutritional and other biological approaches can prove effective in controlling the condition and preserving the remaining sight.
Certain foodstuff should be scrupulously avoided by patients suffering from glaucoma. Coffee in particular, should be completely avoided because of its high caffeine content. Caffeine causes stimulation of vasoconstrictors, elevating blood pressure and increasing blood flow to the eye.
Bear and tobacco, which can cause constriction of blood vessels, should also be avoided. Tea should be taken only in moderation. The patient should not take excessive fluids, whether it is juice, milk or water at any time. He may drink small amounts several times with at least one hour intervals.
The diet of the patient suffering from glaucoma should be based on three basic food groups, namely, seeds, nuts and grains ; vegetables and fruit, with emphasis on raw vitamin C-rich foods, fresh fruits and vegetables. The breakfast may consist of oranges or grapes or any other juicy fruits in season and a handful of raw nuts or seeds. A raw vegetable salad with olive oil and lemon juice dressing, two or three whole wheat chappatis and a glass of buttermilk may be taken for lunch. The dinner may comprise of steamed vegetables, butter and cottage cheese.
Certain nutrients have been found helpful in the treatment of glaucoma. It has been found that the glaucoma patients are usually deficient in vitamins A, B,C, protein ,calcium and other minerals. Nutrients such as calcium and B complex have proved beneficial in relieving the intraocular condition. Many practitioners believe that intraocular pressure in glaucoma can be lowered by vitamin C therapy. An average person weighing 150 pounds be given 7000 mg. of ascorbic acid, five daily, acquired acceptable intraocular pressure within 45 days. Symptoms such as mild stomach discomfort and diarrhoea from the large doses of vitamin C were temporary and soon disappeared. It has also been suggested that some calcium should always be taken with each dose of ascorbic acid to minimise any side effects of the large dose.
The patient should undertake various methods of relaxing and strengthening the eyes. He should avoid emotional stress and cultivate a tranquil, restful life style. He should also avoid prolonged straining of the eyes such as occurs during excessive T.V. or movie watching and excessive reading. The use of sun glasses should be avoided.