Natural Glaucoma TreatmentsComplementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Alternative Medicines Without Proven Benefit in Patients with Glaucoma
Glaucoma “Treatments” Without Evidence of Benefit:
The following supplements have no laboratory evidence that would support a potential use in the treatment of glaucoma.
NOTE: The contents on this website are intended for educational purposes only and should in no way be viewed as medical advice. No treatment mentioned on this site is effective for everyone with glaucoma and it would be unwise to modify one’s own treatment without consultation and examination by a medical doctor properly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.
Acupuncture has been touted as a treatment for everything from the common cold to cancer. So it’s not surprising that glaucoma would be identified as yet another disease that could benefit from this treatment. But is there evidence that acupuncture can reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) or vision loss from glaucoma?
Early research on animals seemed promising. In the 1970s an experiment was conducted on dogs that had “experimentally induced glaucoma”. In this experiment dogs treated with acupuncture had a reduction in IOP. Experiments in humans with glaucoma, however, have not been very encouraging. Most studies of patients with glaucoma treated with acupuncture have failed to show any change in IOP or visual fields.
A 2013 review of the published studies that have evaluated acupuncture’s effect on glaucoma found one study that appeared to show a benefit. In this study the IOP of those patients who received acupuncture dropped by 4-5mmHg one month after initiating treatment. This effect, however, was not seen at any other time during the study (not before or after). Because of the poor quality of the study and the high risk of bias the authors of the review concluded that, “On the basis of currently available evidence, the benefit and harm of acupuncture as a therapeutic modality for glaucoma cannot be established.”
In 2015 a study of acupuncture as a treatment for primary open angle glaucoma was published in a respected ophthalmology journal by a group of highly regarded glaucoma specialists
The study included 11 patients who had undergone 12 sessions of acupuncture. At the end of the study no difference in IOP, visual fields, nerve fiber, or vision could be detected in those eyes for which acupuncture treatment had been applied. Indeed, immediately after acupuncture the IOP actually increased!
The scientific literature has simply exploded with evidence that meditation has real, measurable benefits in the treatment of conditions ranging from insomnia to high blood pressure. Stress reduction is one of the known benefits of meditation and there may be a correlation between stress and IOP. I personally believe everyone could benefit from regular meditation and encourage its practice. With regard to meditation as a potential glaucoma treatment, however, there is no reliable clinical evidence that would support meditation as a treatment of glaucoma.
Other “Glaucoma Therapies”
Following is a laundry list of “glaucoma therapies” that either have no evidence of benefit or evidence that is so weak it is touted only by those who have a financial gain to be made from those buying into these treatments. In other words, the only thing the following have been proven to do is separate you from your hard earned money. In addition, some of these therapies have real, potentially serious side effects associated with them.
- Euphrasia (Euphrasia officinalis) – aka “Eye Bright”
- Megavitamin therapy
- Vitamin A (retinol)
- Spinal manipulation (chiropractic medicine)
- Therapeutic Touch
- Vinpocetine (Vinca minor)
- Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana)
 Ralston NS: Successful treatment and management of acute glaucoma using acupuncture. Am J Acup 5:283–5, 1977
 Sold-Darseff J, Leydhecker W: Acupuncture in glaucoma (authors’ transl) Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd 173:760–4, 1978 Wong S, Ching R: The use of acupuncture in ophthalmology. Am J Chin Med 8:104–53, 1980
 Law SK, Li T. Acupuncture for glaucoma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD006030. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006030.pub3
 Law SK, Lowe S, Law SM, Giaconi JA, Coleman AL, Caprioli J, Prospective Evaluation of Acupuncture as Treatment for Glaucoma, American Journal of Ophthalmology (2015), doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2015.04.033.