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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-05-15 (EDT)


Causes Infection, Alcohol, Caffeine, Weight Lifting, Trauma
See Also Head, Ears, Eyes, Nose and Throat Conditions, Cataracts, Macular Degeneration
Books Books on Head, Ears, Nose and Throat Conditions
Articles Articles on Head, Ears, Eyes, Nose and Throat Conditions

Glaucoma refers to a condition that develops when fluid pressure builds up inside the eye. This buildup of intraocular pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve and can worsen over time, potentially leading to blindness if left untreated.

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

Article Magnesium Citrate Improves Vision in Normotensive Glaucoma, 2011 March Natural Medicine [2]

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With glaucoma, the causes are variable and include lifestyle and environmental factors. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to Glaucoma.



  • Trauma
  • Blunt or chemical injury to the eye can increase the risk of glaucoma[1]
  • Inflammation from trauma or tumors of the eye can cause glaucoma.
  • Smoking is associated with glaucoma.


  • There is an association between alcohol and glaucoma.[2]
  • Poor neck posture, especially forward-head posture, can increase the occurrence and progression of glaucoma.
  • Exercise, especially low intensity exercise such as yoga, pilates and stretching, can decrease the risk of glaucoma and can be an integral part of treatment for glaucoma.[5], [6]
  • Weight lifting increases the intra-ocular pressure (IOP) significantly during a bench press exercise. Breath holding during the exercise leads to a greater IOP increase.[7]


  • There is an association between chronic stress and increased risk of glaucoma.

Medical Interventions

  • Surgery
  • Eye surgery to correct another condition can increase the risk of glaucoma.
  • Prescription Medications
  • Prescription medications such as bronchodilators, antidepressants, anticholinergics for urinary incontinence, over-the-counter medicines and cough suppressants, general anaesthetics, recreational drugs and others can increase the risk of glaucoma.[8]


  • Age
  • Individuals over the age of 60 are at a higher risk of developing this condition.[9]
  • Ethnicity
  • Due to the shallow anterior chamber depth, East Asians are at higher risk to developing glaucoma compared to Caucasians. Individuals of African-American descent are three to four times more likely to develop the disease compared to Caucasians.[9]
  • Obstruction
  • Fluid in the eyes, also known as aqueous humour, normally flows out of the eye through a mesh-like channel known as the trabecular meshwork. Blockage or obstruction of the trabecular meshwork can cause fluid to build up, leading to glaucoma.[10]

Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic testing for glaucoma consists of a thorough ophthalmoscopic examination to detect optic nerve damage, and may include the following additional tests: [11]

  • Tonometry: a simple, painless procedure that measures the internal eye pressure
  • Perimetry, also known as a visual field test
  • Pachymetry, to detect the thickness of each cornea
  • Gonioscopy, a technique in which a special lens is placed on the eyes to inspect the drainage angle. This also helps to distinguish between open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma

Related Symptoms and Conditions

An increased risk of glaucoma is associated with the following conditions:[11], [9]


There are two main types of glaucoma: Open-angle glaucoma, and Narrow-closure glaucoma.

  • Open-angle glaucoma, also known as wide-angle glaucoma, is the most common type of glaucoma. The structures of the eye appear normal, however, the movement of fluid through the trabecular meshwork or drain of the eye is impaired.
  • Narrow-closure glaucoma, also known as acute or chronic angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma, is less common. It generally arises from sudden buildup of pressure in the eye. Drainage may be poor due to physiological narrowing of the angle between the iris and the cornea.

Common Symptoms

  • Primary open-angle glaucoma signs and symptoms include:
  • gradual loss of peripheral vision, generally in both eyes.
  • tunnel vision in advanced stages of the disease.
  • Acute angle-closure glaucoma signs and symptoms include:

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Glaucoma is typically a chronic disease that requires early diagnosis and management.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

  • Regular eye exams are an important part of ongoing eye health.


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Avoid or limit caffeine intake, as this may increase intraocular pressure.
  • Ensure you drink adequate water.
  • Regular exercise may help reduce eye pressure in open-angle glaucoma.
  • Exercise on a regular basis can help decrease pressure inside the eye. Mild-moderate exercise is the most beneficial. Weight-lifting and extreme exercise can actually be problematic.
  • Address poor posture, especially forward-head posture imbalances.
  • Getting adequate sleep is important for growth and cell repair.
  • Take regular breaks from the computer or reading for prolonged periods of time.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for Glaucoma include:


  1. Milder E, Davis K (2008) Ocular trauma and glaucoma,International Ophthamology Clinics;48(4):47-64.
  2. Kang JH, Willett WC, Rosner BA, et al. Prospective study of alcohol consumption and the risk of primary open-angle glaucoma. Ophthalmic Epidemiol,2007;14:141–7.
  3. Li M, Wang M, Guo W, Wang J, Sun X. The effect of caffeine on intraocular pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2011 Mar;249(3):435-42.
  4. Chandrasekaran S, Rochtchina E, Mitchell P. Effects of caffeine on intraocular pressure: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. J Glaucoma. 2005;14:504–7.
  5. Passo MS, Goldberg L, Elliot DL, Van Buskirk EM. Exercise training reduces intraocular pressure among subjects suspected of having glaucoma. Arch Ophthalmol. 1991;109:1096–8.
  6. Marcus DF, Krupin T, Podos SM, Becker B. The effect of exercise on intraocular pressure I. Human beings. Invest Ophthalmol. 1970;9:749–52.
  7. Vieira GM, Oliveira HB, de Andrade DT, et al. Intraocular pressure variation during weight lifting. Arch Ophthalmol. 2006;124:1251–4.
  8. Oxford Journals [1], accessed September 14th, 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Montgomery, Donald (2007)Risk factors for glaucoma,Ophthamology;43-48.
  10. Krasnov MM.(1968)Externalization of Schlemm's canal (sinusotomy) in glaucoma,British Journal of Ophthalmology;52:157-161.
  11. 11.0 11.1 MD Consult; Primary closed-angle glaucoma, Retrieved on August 22, 2013 from,