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 brow region, 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 and prolonged working under bad lighting conditions as the chief cause 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 of 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 condition, allergies, diabetes, hypoglycemia, arteriosclerosis and an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system.
The orthodox 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 the 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 cure, even so, certain nutritional and other biological approaches can prove effective in controlling the condition and preserving the remaining sight.
Certain foodstuffs 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. Beer 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 a day with a minimum of 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 fruits, with emphasis on raw vitamin C-rich foods, fresh fruits and vegetables. Valuable sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, grape-fruits and limes ; green leafy vegetables like cabbages, beets and turnips ; amla, sprouted Bengal and green grams. The same diet as that prescribed for cataract ( Chapter 12 ) should be taken by those suffering from glaucoma. The various methods for relaxing and strengthening the eyes outlined in that chapter will also be beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma.
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 introcular condition. Many practitioners believe that introcular pressure in glaucoma can be lowered by vitamin C therapy . Dr. Michele Virno and his colleagues demonstrated recently in Rome, Italy that the average person weighing 150 pounds given 7000 mg. of ascorbic acid, five times daily , acquired acceptable introcular pressure within 45 days. Symptoms such as mild stomach discomfort and diarrhoea, resulting from the intake of large doses of vitamin C, were temporary and soon disappeared. It has 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 avoid emotional stress and cultivate a tranquil and restful life style as glaucoma is considered to be a ‘stress disease’. He should also avoid excessive watching of television and movies as also excessive reading as such habits can lead to prolonged straining of the eyes.