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Natural Glaucoma Treatments

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Alternative Medicine That Should Be Avoided in Patients with Glaucoma

Glucosamine Sulfate – Avoid This If You Have Glaucoma

Glucosamine sulfate is a naturally occurring substance that is commonly combined with chondroitin sulfate and used to treat the most common type of arthritis. Glucosamine sulfate is used by our bodies to create glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs contribute to the regulation of aqueous flow in the eye (possibly by clogging the trabecular meshwork (the eye’s “drainage grate”). It makes intuitive sense, then, that glucosamine sulfate (which is converted into GAG) might have an effect on IOP.

In 2013 a study was published which evaluated the effect of glucosamine on IOP in patients with a history of ocular hypertension. The study authors found that IOP increased significantly in patients taking this supplement. Fortunately, this increased IOP was reversible with discontinuation of the glucosamine. After discontinuing glucosamine the IOP decreased by around 3mmHg (a significant change). [1]

For those who are in pain from arthritis and wondering which is the lesser evil (treating pain with glucosamine and risking vision loss or saving vision but putting up with increased pain without glucosamine) there is now good news. It appears that the effect of glucosamine on arthritis is mostly hype. A 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that glucosamine worked no better than a placebo (a sugar pill) in reducing pain from arthritis. [2]

Based on all of the above, I now recommend that all of my patients with glaucoma discontinue glucosamine if they are already taking it.

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.

References

[1] Murphy RK, Ketzler L, et al. Oral Glucosamine Supplements as a Possible Ocular Hypertensive Agent. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013;131(7):955-957.

[2] Clegg DO, Reda DJ, Harris CL, et al. Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, and the Two in Combination for Painful Knee Osteoarthritis. NEJM. 2005;354(8):795-808.

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