The development of glaucoma can be gradual or abrupt.
The ciliary body of muscles and ligaments secretes aqueous humor, the fluid that feeds the cornea, iris and lens of the eye, and removes the waste products of metabolism.
This fluid normally drains away just as fast as it is created.
If the trabecular mesh work, the filter covering the eye’s drainpipe, doesn’t do its job properly, aqueous humor builds up between the iris and the cornea, increasing the intraocular eye pressure (IOP).
As this IOP continues to build, the optic nerve is damaged.
This damage is permanent and irreversible.
There are two major types of the disease.
The most common is known as open-angle, primary open-angle or chronic simple.
This type affects about 90% of North Americans.
Acute closed-angle affects the other 10% of the population, and represents a medical emergency, for which immediate treatment must be sought before permanent damage, and possibly blindness, results.
Please note, however, that it may damage the optic nerve even when there is no elevated eye pressure.
This can be detected by peripheral vision testing.
This disease is tested for using the following methods:
Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, has a direct effect on IOP and glaucoma.
This connective tissue protein gives strength and integrity to the tissues of the eye, including those at the back of the eye through which the optic nerve passes, and the trabecular mesh work, the drainpipe filter.
Problems with collagen metabolism can cause problems with these areas.
For the chronic open-angle form, the main symptom is a gradual loss of peripheral vision, leading to tunnel vision.
Another symptom is persistent elevation of inner eye pressure due to cupping of the optic disc (the part of the eye where the optic nerve enters the eyeball).
For the acute closed-angle form, symptoms include severe throbbing pain in the eye (usually only one eye) with very blurry vision; a moderately fixed and dilated pupil, which does not respond to light appropriately; and increased IOP, often on one side of the eye.
Nausea and vomiting are also common.
Try this vision simulator to see what vision deterioration due to this looks like.
Risk factors include aging, smoking, and stress, which elevates eye pressure by producing adrenaline, the fight-or-flight chemical.
Extremely myopia (nearsighted) eyes are at risk for this disease.
Other risk factors include collagen metabolism diseases, including osteogenesis imperfecta, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and Marfan’s syndrome.
Steroid use may also cause this by destroying or damaging the collagen structures in the eye.
Treatment and Cure
There is no cure for glaucoma.
The first step of treatment is to lower the elevated IOP, especially for the acute closed-angle type.
An osmotic agent (such as a one-to-one mixture of glycerin and water) is used for this, in the form of eye drops. This must be followed by surgery to open up the drainpipe.
Anything that dilates the pupil (for example, belladonna and ephedra) must be avoided during an acute attack.
For the chronic open-angle form, there are eye drops and medications to reduce the pressure.
However, the most useful treatment that works with the body’s processes is high doses of Vitamin C.
This vitamin lowers IOP and improves collagen formation and integrity. Continuing Vitamin C therapy (anywhere from 2,000 mg to 35,000 mg per day) can keep IOP low for the long term.
Bioflavonoids, especially the anthocyanins, also promote normal collagen metabolism.
They prevent the breakdown of Vitamin C and stabilize the collagen matrix of the connective tissues by reducing free radical damage and cross-linking with collagen fibers.
They also improve the integrity of capillaries. Blueberries and blueberry/bilberry extracts have been shown to be especially good at these actions.
Test for this at Home
Regular tests for this will help you prevent irreversible blindness.
Get your eyes tested yearly.
If you can't afford the annual expense, there is an eye pressure monitor that may be suitable for you to use at home.
And you can use this monitor monthly or even weekly, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma.
Learn more about the Proview® Eye Pressure Monitor Kit at products for eye health and other eye health products here.
A Herbal Treatment for Glaucoma
Native remedies has a great herbal treatment for glaucoma that you may want to try.