Glaucoma: An Integrative Medical Approach by Dr. Marc Grossman, OD, LAc (chronic open angle) is the most common form of glaucoma, and is an insidious disease that can be difficult to detect until a significant amount of vision is lost. The reason it is so dangerous is that most people with glaucoma have no symptoms. Many feel no pain, and most have 20/20 visual acuity, although possibly only straight-ahead vision. But left untreated, glaucoma can slowly steal your peripheral vision until you think you’re peering through a tunnel (at best) or until you go blind (at worst). Most frightening, 70 per cent of the vision lost to glaucoma occurs before the diagnosis.

Open angle glaucoma is a chronic form of the disease that represents the majority of glaucoma cases. As many as 15 million Americans may have chronic glaucoma. Only about half of people with glaucoma are ever diagnosed with the disease. Of those, almost 2 million suffer loss of vision, and more than a quarter of a million are blind in one eye. Glaucoma costs more than 2.5 billion dollars each year to treat. These numbers will increase as the baby boomer generation ages.

Integrative Medical Approach


Studies indicate that people with glaucoma can reduce their eye pressure by five to seven millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) with an improved diet and supplement program, a reduction as good as or better than achieved with drugs. In general, a diet high in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and selenium is recommended. Foods containing those nutrients include garlic, onions, beans, spinach, celery, turnips, yellow and orange vegetables, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, apples, oranges and tomatoes.

In addition, drinking lots of water helps maintain the flow of nutrients to the eye and drain metabolic wastes and toxins from eye tissues. Optimally, you should drink 16 four-ounce glasses of water per day, every half-hour. Our bloodstream can only handle being diluted by about four ounces at any one time. When you drink more than four ounces at a time, this means more work for the kidneys to filter water that hasn’t had a chance to travel through the lymph system and clean body tissues. Avoid carbonated, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages since they can actually dehydrate eye tissues.  Your optimal water intake depends upon your  particular physiology, diet, climate and physical activity.  Too much water intake can reduce blood salt levels  (hyponatremai) and cause cells to flood.  A good way to gauge if you are properly hydrated is by the color of your urine.   If it it dark yellow, then you are dehydrated and need to drink more water.  If your urine is as clear as water, then you have over-hydrated and should cut back intake.

Food sensitivities and allergies

Research into the effects of food allergies on glaucoma reveals that the disease is not sim- ply related to inner eye pressure but to a complex interaction of biophysical and biochemical factors. A study of 113 patients with simple chronic open-angle glaucoma showed an immediate increase in eye pressure when they were exposed to foods to which they were allergic.

One study showed that removing allergens from the diet led to improvement comparable  to treatment with drugs and surgery or drugs alone. In one case, eye pressure was controlled and vision actually improved once the exposure to food allergens was eliminated.

Evidence also exists that glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, contributes to glaucoma, so it is best to avoid any foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG). asapartame.  Free forms of glutamate (unbound to other amino acids) causes glutamate concentrations to rise quickly in the blood.  Free glutamate is found in nearly all processed or packaged foods.  Currently, genetic predisposition to glutamate sensitivity is being investigated.   Normally glutamate in food is bound to other amino acids and therefore after ingestion,  is slowly processed and abosrbed into the bloodstream.  Free glutamate is similar to eating simple sugar.  The time from ingestion to absorption is much faster.   The brain is protected by the Blood-Brain-Barrier (BBB) but this breaks down after head injury, or low blood sugar.

Research has also shown that glaucoma is closely related to those with diabetes and hypertension, indicating a link to circulation and possibly inflammation. In a 2011 study, researchers examined medical records of over 2 million people older than 40 who were enrolled in a U.S. managed care network. Both conditions were shown to increase the risk of glaucoma by 48% .The study results showed a 35% increased risk in people with diabetes of developing open angle glaucoma and a 17% increased risk in those with hypertension.

According to a study of 12,376 participants from the CDC’s 2002 National Health Interview Survey, an association has also been drawn between thyroid disease and glaucoma. Researchers found that the prevalence of glaucoma was almost double in people with thyroid problems versus those without thyroid problems.

Other risk factors include ongoing use of corticosteroids, including corticosteroid-containing eye drops for reducing eye inflammation and inhalers for treating asthma, low levels of physical activity (Yip 2011), family history, and can be secondary to the other eye conditions such corneal pathology, pseudophakia,  aphakia, neovascular glaucoma, and uveitis.

Computer Use and Glaucoma

Spending too much time looking at a computer screen may raise your risk of the vision-robbing eye disease glaucoma, particularly if you’re nearsighted, according to a new Japanese study. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that ultimately cause damage to the optic nerve. It can lead to blindness if not treated. Heavy computer users who were farsighted or nearsighted seemed to have a higher risk for visual field abnormalities, say the researchers.

To help reduce the effect of chronic computer use, take regular breaks at least every hour to relax the eyes and do some eye exercises

In a 2004 cross-section study, the scientists screened 10,202 randomly selected Japanese employees (programmers, software engineers, gamers) with a mean age of 43.2 using a portable instrument called a Frequency Doubling Technology Perimeter (FDT) that analyzed whether there is a loss of visual field and which is used for detecting  Of that group, one third were found to have glaucoma. Even more significant was that heavy computer users who were farsighted (presbyopia)or nearsighted (myopia) seemed to have a higher risk. Nearsightedness was found in 82% of those with glaucoma. Source: Possible association between heavy computer users & glaucomatous visual field abnormalities: a cross sectional study in Japanese workers,

Glaucoma  nutritional protocol

  • Vitamin A 5000 i.u.
  • Beta carotene 15,000 i.u.
  • Vitamin c 2000 mg
  • Co enzyme Q 10 100 mg
  • Coleus 200 mg
  • Bilberry 200 mg
  • Grape seed extract 200 mg
  • Ginkgo biloba 120 mg
  • Omega 3 oils 1000 mg
  • Omega 6 oils 1000 mg
  • Alpha lipoic acid 150 mg

Juicing recipe

Celery, cucumber, carrots, radish, parsley, turnip, beets, raspberries, cabbage, apple, plums (not too much fruit).


Marc Grossman, Doctor of Optometry and New York State Licensed Acupuncturist is author of several books, including Natural Eye Care – Your Guide to Healthy Vision.  Since 1980 Dr. Marc Grossman has helped many people maintain healthy vision and even improve eyesight. He is best described as a Holistic Eye Doctor, dedicated to helping people with such conditions ranging from myopia and dry eyes to potentially vision threatening diseases as macular degeneration and glaucoma. His combined multi-disciplinary approach using nutrition, eye exercises, lifestyle changes and Chinese Medicine provides him with a wide array of tools and approaches to tackle difficult eye problems. Dr. Grossman founded the Rye Learning Center in 1980, a multidisciplinary center for learning problems, in 1996 co-founded Integral Health Associates in New Paltz, New York, and in 1999 co-founded Natural Eye Care, Inc. For more information go to or call 845-255-3728.