Glaucoma treatment: Are there any natural therapies that prevent and treat glaucoma? [Part 2]  

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Natural remedies for glaucoma

Are there any natural remedies for glaucoma? We already know that there are no natural remedies that can cure glaucoma. But that doesn’t mean that there are no natural ingredients that are beneficial for those who already have glaucoma or are at risk for it. In this blog article, I further list down five nutraceutical supplements that can make a difference for glaucoma, in addition to the five that I have already previously discussed

Natural remedies for glaucoma

Are there any natural remedies for glaucoma?

Natural remedies for glaucoma: 5 nutraceuticals worth taking [Part 2]

Lutein and zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin (and mesozeaxanthin) are carotenoids or natural pigments that are found in many fruits and vegetables. They are known as macular pigments or macular xanthophylls, as they are highly concentrated in the lens and macula (the central and most sensitive part of the retina). 

Lutein and zeaxanthin cannot be produced by our body and can only be synthesised by plants, so you have to make sure you have enough from your diet.

So which fruit and vegetables should you eat? Well, carotenoids are responsible for giving bright colours to fruit and vegetables. Think about the orange and red hues of peppers, tomatoes and berries, or the green color of many leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, lettuce, and broccoli.

What about mesozeaxanthin? Mesozeaxanthin is rarely found in diet. It is likely that mesozeaxanthin is formed from lutein in the retina through specific biochemical reactions. Mesozeaxanthin can be synthetically produced from lutein by the enzyme RPE65 (retinal pigment epithelium-specific protein) in the retina.

Anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins

Anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins are two groups of powerful flavonoid antioxidants. These antioxidants reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, providing protective health benefits against diabetes, age-related decline and vascular disease – all contributory factors for eye disease. 

Anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins are obtained from plant sources. The bilberry fruit (vaccinium myrtillus) is an excellent source of anthocyanins, while grape seed (vitis vinifera) has very rich proanthocyanidin content.

Bilberry (vaccinium myrtillus)

The legend goes that during World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots ate bilberry jam with their English tea before their night time bombing flights.

And the reason for the devastating accuracy of their bombing flights? Significantly superior night vision of the pilots, courtesy of the bilberry jam.

Night vision aside, bilberry has long been considered a powerhouse for eye health. Bilberry extract has shown benefits for dry eyes, visual fatigue, and retinal health.

For glaucoma, consumption of bilberry extract after two years was able to improve vision and visual field in some normal tension glaucoma patients.

Grape seed (vitis vinifera)

Grape seed extract is made from the seeds of wine grapes.

The reason we are interested in grape seeds? It’s proanthocyanidin content, which sits at around 92 to 95% concentration. This is much higher compared to whole grapes, grape pulp or grape skin.

Proanthocyanidins are highly bioavailable and provide significantly greater protection against free radicals, lipid peroxidation, and DNA damage than general antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene.

From the clinical point of view for the eyes, this has mainly translated to improved outcomes for diabetic eye disease.

Note: You may be aware of another rich source of proanthocyanidins: French maritime pine bark extract. French maritime pine bark is well known, but has a lower concentration of proanthocyanidins (85%) and is also very expensive.

Ginkgo biloba

The ginkgo biloba tree is the national tree of China and can live for over a thousand years, hence its symbol of longevity and endurance. 

Ginkgo biloba is an important ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. It is derived from the ginkgo leaf and contains 60 bioactive compounds; 30 of these compounds cannot be obtained from any other source. These compounds fall into two main groups: flavonoids (which have antioxidant properties that act at the level of the mitochondria), and terpenoids (which have blood thinning properties).

Note: Ginkgo seeds contain ingredients that can be poisonous and cause serious side effects if not properly prepared before being eaten.

Always talk to your eye specialist and GP before taking supplements

As always, if you are considering supplementing with any of the nutrients and vitamins listed above, please discuss this with your eye specialist and other healthcare providers first. This is particularly important if you are taking other medications. 

For example, bilberry may lower your blood sugar, so be cautious when taking it in combination with your diabetes medications.

And as mentioned earlier, please use ginkgo biloba with caution if you are on blood-thinning medications or if you have a health condition that increases bleeding.

Book an appointment

Ready to book an appointment? Dr Brian Ang consults at multiple locations. Choose the nearest to you. 

Consulting and operating at multiple locations in Melbourne

I work as an associate consultant for these private practices in and around Melbourne.

I operate at multiple locations in and around Melbourne.

  • Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital, East Melbourne
  • St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy
  • Sunshine Private Day Surgery, St Albans
  • Epworth Hospital, Geelong
  • Footscray Day Surgery

To make an appointment, please contact Dr Brian Ang here.

Multilingual consultations

I am multilingual and fluent in English, conversational Mandarin, Cantonese and Bahasa Malaysia.

What patients appreciate about Dr Brian Ang

Patients like the fact that my explanations are clear, concise, and easy to understand. I make sure that I provide enough relevant information so that patients can make the best informed decisions based on their own circumstances. What I will not do is to pressure patients into making decisions that they are not comfortable with. Instead I will respect and support your decisions as we work together to achieve the best clinical outcomes for your eyes.