The Thief of Eyesight
There are several types of glaucoma, but all have one thing in common: damage to the optic nerve in the back of the eye. The eye pressure may not always be elevated, but peripheral vision examinations will detect it. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly and in African-Americans.

Numerous risk factors are listed in my book The Eye Care Revolution (Kensington Books). I have found the two major factors are stress and poor circulation in the eye at night. High blood pressure medications can actually result in blood pressure falling too low at night. Long-term elevation of intraocular pressure (eye pressure), poor circulation, aging and smoking are some common contributors to the development of glaucoma.

Six Types of Glaucoma
There are six types of glaucoma, including chronic open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common type. The other types are congenital, narrow-angle, secondary, and normal tension.  The first five types share damage to the optic nerve through a mechanism of elevated pressure in the eye or poor blood supply to the optic nerve, or both. A sixth type is a called a glaucoma suspect. These patients may have intraocular pressures that are elevated above 21 mm Hg, abnormal optic nerve cups and/or other risk factors. Fortunately, we have benchmarks to differentiate who may be a suspect from actual nerve damage.

Glaucoma Treatment
Eye drops, laser therapy (especially for the narrow angle variety) and surgery are the conventional treatment options and are required if you continue to lose peripheral vision (tested by visual field exams).

But more and more eye doctors are agreeing that there are other treatment options that can aid in the management of this sight-threatening condition:

  • Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • 30 to 40 minutes of walking a day. More vigorous cardiovascular exercise twice weekly if applicable.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Rhythmic breathing. Take 10 slow, deep breaths, three times daily. You will notice your blood pressure and heart rate may change (for the better) and you will feel more relaxed. Breathing is the first step toward meditation, which is very effective in reducing stress
  • Avoid low blood pressure at night if you are taking high blood pressure medicine. Have your blood pressure taken while lying down. Check with your doctor whether you even need an evening dose.
  • Improve circulation with Ginkgo biloba, Magnesium (500 mg) at bedtime, and by taking the herbs Trifola and Salvia (which reduce stress in general)
  • Alan Tillotson PhD has an herbal combination called iFolia. Visit his website or email him directly for consultations.
  • For more information see Chapter 7 in my book The Eye Care Revolution.