Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, according to the American Health Assistance Foundation. The term "glaucoma" refers to a group of eye diseases that impact the optic nerve. Increased pressure in the eye is often involved, but it is possible to have glaucoma without it. Some supplements may help reduce intraocular pressure and be of benefit in glaucoma. Use supplements only under the supervision of a qualified health care professional.
In an article in "Alternative Medicine Review," naturopathic doctor Kathleen Head reports that high doses of vitamin C have been shown to reduce ocular pressure in glaucoma patients. According to Head, vitamin C has attracted a good deal of interest from researchers as a potential glaucoma treatment. However, the doses of vitamin C required to lower pressure in the eye are very high, and many patients in clinical trials experienced gastric distress and diarrhea. This side effect may limit the widespread use of this supplement for glaucoma. Consult a qualified health care professional to find out if whether vitamin C is appropriate for you.
According to a monograph published by "Alternative Medicine Review," the Ayurvedic supplement Coleus forskohlii, whose active component is known as forskolin, may be useful in lowering the intraocular pressure often seen in glaucoma. The monograph described two studies in which volunteers with glaucoma received forskolin suspensions in the eyes. In both cases, there was a significant decrease in intraocular pressure. Forskolin supplements are increasingly available in natural foods and vitamin stores. Do not use forskolin in lieu of conventional medical treatment.
According to a study from Italy's University of Chieti-Pescara, bilberry supplements may help lower intraocular pressure, especially in combination with pine bark extract. Bilberry supplements boost the capacity of capillaries and veins, thus improving circulation. The researchers found that bilberry also modifies the capillaries in the ciliary body, the tissue in the eye that is the primary target for drugs that treat glaucoma. Used historically for a number of eye conditions, the bilberry shrub's tiny blue berries are similar to the North American blueberry and huckleberry. The National Library of Medicine cautions that bilberry supplements contain chromium, so they should not be taken with other supplements that contain this mineral. Take bilberry under the supervision of a qualified health care provider.
- American Health Assistance Foundation: Facts on Glaucoma
- "Alternative Medicine Review": Natural Therapies for Ocular Disorders Part Two: Cataracts and Glaucoma
- "Alternative Medicine Review": Monograph Coleus Forskohlii
- American Botanical Council: HerbClip: Bilberry Extract With Pycnogenol Alleviates Intraocular Pressure Elevations and Improves Clinical Response to Local Medication for This Asymptomatic Condition
- MedlinePlus: Bilberry