Glaucoma is a group of disorders that can affect the optic nerve in your eyes. That’s the nerve that transmits impulses from your eyes to your brain where they are converted into the images we see.
The most common type is open-angle glaucoma, and it is usually caused by a slow buildup of fluid that increases pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure or IOP), which can damage the optic nerve. There are other types that are far less common, including close-angle glaucoma, which develops rapidly and requires immediate medical attention, and congenital glaucoma, which is present at birth.
More than 3 million Americans are affected by glaucoma, and half of them don’t realize they have it. Unfortunately, the first sign of optic nerve damage is often loss of visual acuity or “tunnel vision” (loss of peripheral vision), and once it occurs, it cannot be reversed. Left unchecked, glaucoma can cause blindness.
While Considered Incurable, Glaucoma Is Treatable
The most common therapy is prescription eye drops, which lower IOP by reducing fluid production or increasing drainage in the eye. These drops help, but they must be used daily, and they have rather significant local and systemic side effects. Laser treatment and surgery are also used to lower IOP, but effectiveness diminishes over time and these procedures may have to be repeated.
That’s why regular comprehensive eye exams are essential. Early detection of elevated IOP gives you a chance to take immediate action—which includes natural therapies that can help normalize eye pressure, slow disease progression, and prevent damage to the optic nerve.
Bilberry + Pycnogenol = Mirtogenol
Mirtogenol™ is a supplement consisting of two well-researched herbal ingredients that target oxidative stress, inflammation, poor circulation, and structural changes in the blood vessels. In other words, it addresses the major underlying contributors to elevated IOP and glaucoma. This supplement includes precise, standardized doses of:
- Bilberry extract, a European cousin of American blueberries, has been recognized for its eye benefits since World War II, when pilots reportedly ate bilberry jam to improve their night vision. Researchers have since discovered that bilberry is a rich source of anthocyanins, which are polyphenols with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Pycnogenol® French maritime pine bark extract is a concentrated source of proanthocyanidins, another class of potent polyphenols. In addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Pycnogenol also helps strengthen fragile blood vessels and improve circulation.
Mirtogenol’s Impressive Study Results
This unique supplement has been demonstrated in several clinical trials to improve microcirculation in the eye and decrease IOP when used alone or in combination with prescription eye drops.
An early clinical trial involved participants who had elevated IOP but no signs of optic nerve damage or vision loss. They were divided into groups and treated with Mirtogenol, Latanoprost (popular eye drops for glaucoma that reduce eye pressure by increasing fluid drainage out of the eye), or both Mirtogenol and eye drops. When the participants were reevaluated, IOP improved in all groups. Mirtogenol alone reduced IOP almost as much as the eye drops, although it took longer to work. But the best results were seen in the combination treatment group, which had a 28% average reduction in IPO after four weeks—and a 40% reduction after 24 weeks!
More recently, Italian researchers enrolled 88 participants with elevated IOP in a 12-week clinical trial. They were randomized into groups, each receiving one of three treatment protocols: 1) Mirtogenol plus dorzolamide-timolol eye drops, which is another prescription treatment for reducing eye pressure; 2) Mirtogenol plus Latanoprost eye drops; 3) Latanoprost eye drops alone. At the study’s conclusion, all three groups had comparable improvements, with the Mirtogenol plus Latanoprost group having slightly better results.
Other Natural Therapies for Glaucoma
Another helpful supplement for glaucoma is omega-3 fatty acids. Australian researchers reviewed the placebo-controlled clinical trials on fish oil and glaucoma and found that study participants who took supplemental fish oil for three months had marked reductions in intraocular pressure. The daily dosage used in these studies was 1,000 mg EPA and 500 mg DHA.
Because oxidative stress plays a central role in glaucoma, antioxidant supplements are also beneficial. A comprehensive 2020 review study covered a number of antioxidants, including vitamins C, E, and A; coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10); and botanicals such as bilberry, Ginkgo biloba, lutein, zeaxanthin, and EGCG (in green tea). The researchers concluded that “supplementation with antioxidants may be a promising therapy in glaucoma.” Your best bet is to take a good daily multivitamin with above-RDA doses of antioxidants.
A Healthy Lifestyle Is Also Important
Don’t overlook the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Research reveals that people who exercise regularly tend to have significantly lower IOP. Specific foods that have been shown to protect the eyes include omega-3-rich fish, tea, leafy greens, berries, and other nutrient-dense produce. A low-carbohydrate diet should also be considered, as some research has linked a high intake of carbs with an elevated risk of glaucoma. Go easy on alcohol, and if you smoke, stop.
Obesity, diabetes, and hypertension also increase risk, so do your best to get a handle on your weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure. And don’t forget to schedule regular eye checkups. This is particularly important if you are African American, have a family history of glaucoma, or are over age 65, as all these factors are associated with an increased risk of glaucoma.
To learn more, check out my responses to these common questions about glaucoma.