Three of most disabling eye diseases are cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Each will significantly decrease your levels of activity if not treated. Modern medicine offers treatments of varying effectiveness in improving vision.
Cataracts result when the lens of the eye becomes clouded, keeping light from passing through to the retina. For some people cataracts are a result of genetic factors. The majority of cataracts, however, are a result of growing older or from injury. Conditions such as diabetes, certain medications, and trauma, can lead to cataracts.
Surgery to remove and replace the cloudy lens is the traditional treatment. Naturopathic practitioners recommend diet modifications and gentle eye exercises, particularly in the early stages of development. Contemporary research supports their claims that growth of cataracts can be slowed, if not stopped, with nutritional treatment.
Although most of us associate high pressure within the eye as being the cause of glaucoma, pressure is only one of several causes. Regardless of the cause, the optic nerves are damaged, and left untreated, result in blindness.
Ophthalmologists usually prescribe eye drops containing various drugs to treat glaucoma. Surgery is necessary in some cases. As the goal is to reduce pressure within the eye, alternative medicine practitioners teach people ways to relax. Studies have shown that biofeedback is effective in treating glaucoma. Simple exercise, such as walking, and improved nutrition help treat some forms of glaucoma.
The third potentially devastating eye disease is macular degeneration. The exact cause is unknown, but risk factors include lifestyle choices such as smoking and poor nutrition. Aging and race also play a role.
Treatment, including surgery and injections of drugs in the eye, varies with the kind of macular degeneration, however the disease is regarded as incurable. As with other eye conditions, naturopathic and alternative practitioners recommend eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Their research documents the benefits of supplementing the diet with vitamins and various herbs.
The one vitamin proven effective in maintaining good eye health is Vitamin A, found in a variety of foods. Adequate intake of the other vitamins is also important. Minerals such as copper, selenium, and zinc all contribute to good nutrition overall as well as being specifically beneficial to the eyes. The herbs bilberry and eyebright have long histories of strengthening the eyes’s ability to resist disease. Currently, ginkgo is being studied as a remedy for glaucoma.
The most exciting development for many is the discovery of the benefits of astaxanthin, an antioxidant which is harvested from algae. So far, it seems to be helpful for a variety of health conditions, primarily by strengthening the immune system. It’s currently undergoing testing and early results indicate its effectiveness in treating macular degeneration.
Synthetic astaxanthin, made from petroleum, is currently on the market. It has not undergone meaningful testing and natural health experts recommend avoiding it. Only natural astaxanthin has any proven benefits.
As with any medical condition, it’s essential that you see a health professional as soon as you experience any symptoms such as blurriness, discoloration, or pain involving your eyes. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential to minimize vision loss.