Open-Angle Glaucoma

Millions of Americans have chronic open-angle glaucoma, and many conditions go undiagnosed. Glaucoma is another gradual-onset condition that can go undetected until there is vision loss. There is no associated pain, and visual acuity is not usually affected. Gradually one loses peripheral vision.

Vision loss in glaucoma is often due to damage of the optic nerve. An increase of intraocular pressure (IOP) of the aqueous humor (watery fluid that circulates in the eye between the cornea and the lens) is often the cause of this nerve damage. In a healthy eye the fluid drains into the bloodstream at a constant rate. In this condition,the fluid does not drain and the pressure that builds up damages the optic nerve, causing vision loss.

Western medicine uses surgical methods and medication in order to control the pressure buildup. This may reduce the likelihood of optic nerve damage and vision loss. The problem is that these methods can have very serious side effects and may cause more severe vision loss. It’s a double-edged sword, and while some people do well from medication and surgery, others have ended up completely blind as a result of medical errors.

In my opinion, as long as the IOP is not dangerously high, it is much wiser to try the less invasive procedures offered through Traditional Chinese Medicine. If they do not work, there is always conventional medicine to fall back on. To me the risk associated with the Western medical approach seems too great not to try these natural methods first.

Chinese medicine works to regulate this circulation of fluids without damaging the eye. It can be quite successful, especially if the patient is treated in the early stages of open-angle glaucoma to preserve the health and function of the optic nerve.  Acupuncture may be beneficial for lowering IOP but most people with elevated eye pressure are already on medication to control it.  If IOP is uncontrollable with meds and/or individuals are intolerant to eye pressure medication, then acupuncture can help to regulate eye pressure.  We can also help to reduce the amount of medication needed to control IOP.

Normal Tension Glaucoma (NTG)

In normal-tension glaucoma the optic nerve is damaged even though the pressure in the eye is not very high. In general, a “normal” pressure range is between 10-20 mm Hg. Researchers do not know why some people’s optic nerves are damaged even though they have almost normal pressure levels.

Those at higher risk for developing NTG are people with a family history of normal-tension glaucoma, people of Japanese ancestry and people with a history of systemic heart disease such as irregular heart rhythm.

The causes of NTG are still unknown to conventional medicine and there is no effective conventional treatment for NTG. For some reason, the optic nerve is susceptible to damage from even the normal amount of eye pressure. Researchers continue to examine why some optic nerves are damaged by these relatively low eye pressure levels. .  Dr. Rosenfarb believes that most of these NTG case are rooted in either autoimmune pathology, infectious diseases and/or metabolic dysfunction.  Blood work will usually reveal the most probably underlying cause that is unique to each case.

6 thoughts on “Glaucoma

  1. Annie Meigs LAc, RN

    My Last eye exam showed changes in the optic nerve of my left eye. In early March photos will again be taken to compare. As I am a TCM practitioner, I am interested in learning what TCM has to offer. Are there acupressure/puncture points I can do for myself? Do you know of any practitioners in Phoenix, Az who you would recommend? If you would be so kind as to respond, I’d be most appreciative.

    1. Andy Post author

      TCM has so much to offer glaucoma and optic nerve degeneration due to glaucoma. Conventional glaucoma treatment is soley directed towards controlling eye pressure (IOP). For decades glaucoma specialists have sucessfuly controlled eye pressure for many with glaucoma … but patients are still going blind. Why? Because there is no treatment work being done to support the health, function and integrity of the optic nerve. Acupunture can can help improve blood flow to the optic nerve and slow degeneration and maintain vision. This is based on my own clinical experience and has not been scientifically researched and proven… yet.

  2. Anonymous

    Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I am hoping you write again very soon!

    1. Andy Post author

      Hi Rosy – I don’t know of anyone in the UK who has extensive experience in treating glaucoma but I will be happy to ask around. The cost is $2000 per week which includes Consultation, vision testing, and 2 treatments per day (micro acupuncture, laser acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, etc).

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