Glaucoma and Restoring Vision  
What you need to know
By Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor San Diego State University

Posted December 18, 2017; updated October 19, 2021.  All information and videos are for information purposes ONLY and are NOT intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Three major eye disorders:  Richardson article no longer active. This article discuses only one --- glaucoma. The second disorder is cataract, a clouding of the eye's natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is the principal cause of blindness in the world.  Wiki: Cataract  A third eye disorder, macular degeneration, is a loss of central vision in the macula of the retina in the eye. Wiki: Macular Degeneration

This author had cataract surgery on his left eye. He now has a touch of glaucoma in this eye and a vested interest in finding out more about it. I have good vision only in my left eye, while my right eye has sub-retinal hemorrhage obstruction in the retina caused long ago by a virus; the center is blocked out but I do have peripheral vision. My eye doctor, on my earlier visit, found that my visual acuity [reading the eye chart] in my left eye was super excellent, in spite of the high ocular pressure of 22 mm mercury.  The two eye drop medications that he had previously prescribed for the past 20 or so years were not keeping my pressure under control.  So he prescribed a third eye drop medication to hopefully control the pressure.  I thought my eye doctor would contact me after a month or so to see whether the third medication actually was working. But he did not!  After waiting for the doctor to follow-up on his prescription for two months, I made an appointment to check my eye pressure.  Surprise, the third eye drop did work just slightly by lowering my eye pressure from 22 to 19, about 3 mm.  This was still too high and so I continue to use three eye drops each day. 

During my last visit to the eye doctor, I bluntly complained that all the information provided with my eye drops was "heap um smoke, no fire!" It did not inform me how the eye drops worked nor what glaucoma really was. He agreed.  So I asked him to explain to me in 5 words in simple language how the drops worked.  He appeared to be a little shook up by my request.

These frustrations have spurred me to do my own research about glaucoma and I share the research with you.

The eye is a very delicate and precise machine. Yes a machine, for the eye has 70% of all the thousands of body sensors that help the eye work.  But all eyes are not the same.  Some persons have a short eye length while others have a long eye. Regardless of length, the eye is programmed for vision ... to help one see. You should be aware that mother nature has programmed your body and eye to function and heal on its own .... providing the body has adequate amounts of nutrients.   

Sunlight is essential for good health. But over-exposure to the ultraviolet A rays [UVA] of the sunlight over a long time can slowly disable the functions of the eye. This may be a primary cause of glaucoma and other disorders of the eye.  It is recommended that you wear sunglasses to prevent UVA rays from overexposure to your eyes. You also need to keep in mind that you need to allow some of the sunlight to enter the eye and stimulate your pineal gland so you can sleep properly. And you need to also exposure your skin, for a short time, to UVB rays that are essential in stimulating the body to synthesize hormone D [vitamin D]. However, you should expose you eyes to natural sunlight for about half an hour and thereafter wear sun glasses.

There are two basic types of glaucoma:

1. Open Angle Glaucoma: With open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Usually, no pain is associated with increased eye pressure. This is the most widely contracted form, also called primary or chronic glaucoma. It represents about ninety percent of glaucoma cases. This type of glaucoma has a wide and open angle between the iris and cornea to drain fluid drainage. This angle is as wide as it is supposed to be to normally allow drainage. When the eye’s drainage canals are clogged and drainage is impedded, pressure on the eye increases. This pressure can happen slowly over the course of a lifetime. It affects about three million Americans. 

2. Narrow-angle glaucoma, also called angle-closure glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma, occurs when the iris is pushed forward and the pressure inside the eye increases significantly. This movement obstructs the eye's drainage channel and causes pressure to build up inside the eye. When this pressure is too high, it results in narrow-angle glaucoma.

Controversy: There is some controversy at this time as to whether the optic nerve is damaged or disabled. Traditional eye doctors claim that "vision loss due to glaucoma can't be recovered. So it's important to have regular eye exams that include measurements of your interocular eye pressure. If glaucoma is recognized early, vision loss can be slowed or prevented. If you have the condition, eye doctors generally recommend that you'll generally need eye drop treatment for the rest of your life." Mayo Cl: Glaucoma causes  Glaucoma causes

Glaucoma is also perceived to be loss of vision caused by progressive loss of optic nerve fibers. All the nerve fibers in the optic nerve may not be affected. This is a simplistic definition and not everyone agrees with it and hence, controversy.

Another contention is that the retinal fluid pressure appears to block some of the nerve fibers in the optic nerve, causing these to become dormant and which may be revived in the future. Others contend that the blockage is permanent. 

Adding to the controversy is new research pointing out that glaucoma is activated from the area of the brain that is connected to the optic nerve.  Sears: Astaxanthin supernutrient

Other experts claim that glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve while others claim that glaucoma is the result of excess fluid in the eye that does not drain. 

It is obvious that all these conroversies may be working in response to drainage being blocked that results in ocular pressure. Eye experts appear to be nit-picking and do not have an agreement about what causes glaucoma. 

While reviewing glaucoma, this independent researcher observed that the supposed experts provided scanty and confusing glaucoma information that was basically useless in explaining in simple language just what glaucoma is and what causes glaucoma.  Most persons with eye problems seek help and do not ask questions of their eye doctor. So it is difficult to know whether the doctor is treating the eye for symptoms such as visual acuity [inability to read]; or interocular pressure [IOP] in the eye or really remedying the cause of the eye problem or preventing glaucoma.

To understand glaucoma, you need to understand how the eye works. The videos below does a pretty good job.

AnimMed, How the Eye Works Animation,  Length = 2:16 mns.

Source: Animation - How eye works

Structure and working of Human Eye  Length = 5:15 mns.

Source: How eye works

How glaucoma works: Li: Glaucoma 2014  Alila Med Ctr: Glaucoma 2016

The eye produces a clear fluid called aqueous humor which is secreted by the ciliary body into the posterior [back] chamber --- a structure located behind the  iris. [The video below attempts to display the cause of glaucoma]  The fluid then flows through the pupil into the anterior [front] chamber between the iris and the cornea and creates pressure in the retina. The aqueous humor drains from the eye through a structure called the trabecular meshwork, where the cornea and iris meet. If the ciliary body produces too much aqueous, the pressure in the eye increases, causing ocular hypertension.  This drainage attempts to maintain normal and healthy ocular eye pressure.

Inadequate aqueous drainage: "For the eye to function, a balance must exist between the aqueous fluid secreted by the ciliary body, and the outflow of fluid by way of the trabecular meshwork. If too much fluid is produced or too little drains out, the intraocular pressure increases."  Li: Glaucoma 2014

PikesPeakEyecare, "How Fluid Circulates in the Eye"  Length = 1:05 mns.

Fluid ciculation in eye

If the aqueous drains too slowly from the eye, disrupting the normal balance of production and drainage of the eye's clear fluid, this too will cause high eye pressure.

The retinal pressure is much like an inflated  basketball; the pressure keeps the outer and inner parts of the eye inflated and balances the suspension of the retina, lens and iris. This is the eye's natural mechanism for maintaining a constant and balanced eye pressure. The eye has a valve trabecular meshwork] near the outer iris to release excess pressure in an effort to keep the pressure constant.  Normal healthy ocular pressure has a range between 10 to 20 mm. When the pressure release mechanism is blocked or fails to work properly, then the ocular pressure increases and we have glaucoma.

In a healthy eye, the rate of secretion balances the rate of drainage. In people with glaucoma, the drainage canal is partially or completely blocked. Fluid builds up in the retina and this puts pressure on the optic nerve; increasing pressure within the eye. The pressure can drive the lens back and presses on the vitreous humor, which in turn, can block drainage.

The retina of your eyes, the back part of your eyes that functions as a projection screen, is an extension of brain tissue. Therefore, what’s good for the brain should be good for the eyes. As discussed previously, new research points out that glaucoma is activated from the area of the brain that is connected to the optic nerve.  Sears: Astaxanthin supernutrient

Symptoms: [a person may have some or all symptoms]

  • difficulty seeing in dimly lit places

  • cloudy view

  • glare

  • tunnel vision [see things in a small circle directly in front of their eyes as if they were looking down a tunnel
  • ]
  • blurred vision

  • severe eye pain

  • headache caused by fluid not draining

Symptoms of glaucoma vary depending on whether it is closed or open angle. Acute, closed angle glaucoma develops suddenly with eye redness, severe eye pain and blurred vision. Patients who may also experience nausea and vomiting, halos around lights and visual disturbances in low light should be aware that these symptoms may be considered a medical emergency. Open angle glaucoma develops more gradually with a loss of peripheral vision and tunnel vision in advanced stages.

When tunnel vision is a symptom of impending glaucoma, the damage is afflicted onto the optic nerve and part of the brain where the optic nerve connects. The optic nerve can become damaged as a result of increased pressure inside the eye.

Risk factors for glaucoma include increased age, being of African-American race, corticosteroid use and a family history of the disease. Eye injuries, medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease and other eye diseases also increase risk. Glaucoma risk factors

Therapy to relieve the excess ocular pressure: 

The eye is programmed by mother nature to allow for good vision. Changing the physiological-anatomy of the eye to drain the ocular pressure with laser surgery, that opens a tiny hole in the trabecular meshwork near the outer iris, has not been very successful. Today, the best and safe way to control ocular pressure is with prescribed eye drops. Drops may be used singly or in combination with one another to lower the ocular pressure. These medications lower your eye pressure either by slowing the production of aqueous humor or by increasing its outflow from the eye.   Li: Glaucoma 2014

Surgical intervention may also be necessary, beginning with laser surgery to help drain fluid from the eye.  Such surgery is a last resort.

There are several reports that electric current stimulation does clear some of the glaucoma and can partially restore vision.   Kondrot: U-Tube  Gall Carolin and others at Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany, report that such treatment is a safe and effective means to partially restore vision after optic nerve damage probably by modulating brain plasticity.

This report is the first confirmatory, large-sample, double blind, randomized, multi-center clinical trial to establish the efficacy and safety of repetitive transorbital alternating current stimulation [rtACS] stimulation in patients with vision impairments caused by optic nerve damage. This class 1 evidence suggests that visual fields can be improved in a clinically meaningful way.  Gall: electric stimulation helps 2016

Prevention:  Overlooked in all this medical eye conversation is the importance of diet and lifestyle in preventing and controlling glaucoma.  There is credible research that specific spirulina [microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis or astaxanthin] can help prevent eye problems, including glaucoma. Capelli article is no longer active.  Richardson: Astaxanthin & D. Diseases 2015  Sorochan: Astaxanthin 2017

Research on the health benefits of astaxanthin:

Way back in the 1940’s, Drs. Rene Grangaud and Renee Massonet in their doctoral research at the University of Lyon in France demonstrated that astaxanthin does indeed cross the brain barrier and into eye tissue. By feeding laboratory rats astaxanthin, they showed that once astaxanthin reaches the eyes, it acts as a strong retinal protector.  Sears: Astaxanthin supernutrient

Researchers in Japan found that people who spend a lot of time at their computers and took 5 milligrams of astaxanthin per day for four weeks reported a 46 percent reduction in eyestrain and higher accommodation amplitude, that is, the ability of the lens to properly focus.  Sears: Astaxanthin supernutrient

Other studies using doses from 4 to 12 milligrams a day found similar improvements to eye fatigue, as well as less eye soreness, less dryness, and less blurred vision. Another study showed that people who spend heavy amounts of time on computers recovered from their eye fatigue more quickly when they were pretreated with astaxanthin than when they were not given astaxanthin.  Sears: Astaxanthin supernutrient

Excessive wear-and-tear of the lens makes it stiff and sticky, so it is less able to change shapes and accommodate to the changing light of various visual images. A laboratory study from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston showed that astaxanthin helped protect the lenses of rats’ eyes exposed to oxidants. Another study from the School of Pharmacy of Taipei Medical University in Taiwan showed that astaxanthin protected the lenses of pigs’ eyes from oxidation.  Sears: Astaxanthin supernutrient

Astaxanthin, a red-orange spirulina, is believed to be the most powerful antioxidant found in nature. Research has shown it can also benefit your entire body as well as enhance eye health. But for it to work and restore the chemistry of the body to good optimal state, you need to ingest it for at least two weeks to two months and then continue ingesting it on a continual basis. This length of time is needed to build up the reservoir dosage in all parts of the body  Sorochan: Asraxanthin 2017 ; thereafter the eye can get adequate amount of astaxanthin. 

Food that has the highest amount of astaxanthin is wild Alaska wild sockeye salmon. Sorochan: Asraxanthin 2017 Studies have shown that zeaxanthin, found in small amounts, mainly in dark-green leafy vegetables, corn, peppers, and egg yolk, is an essential nutrient that gets into the eye tissues, especially the lens and retina, to protect them against the aging effects of excessive ultraviolet light radiation.  Sears: Astaxanthin supernutrient

Three other nutrients, often combined in astaxanthin, are xanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein. These have long been recognized as important nutrients for eye health. Studies have shown that zeaxanthin, found mainly in dark-green leafy vegetables, corn, peppers, and egg yolk, is an essential nutrient that gets into the eye tissues, especially the lens and retina, to protect them against the aging effects of excessive ultraviolet light radiation. Zeaxanthin and lutein, both carotenoids, protect macular pigments in the retina necessary for retinal health and clear vision. Zeaxanthin absorbs harmful blue light and reduces retinal oxidation, which is one reason that people who ingest more lutein and zeaxanthin have a lower incidence of age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision loss. Early, preventive treatment with a combination of antioxidants including astaxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc; and in humans at risk for age-related macular degeneration demonstrated improvement in vision near the important central part of the retina. Astaxanthin is the newcomer to the xanthin eye-protection family.  Richardson article no longer active. Santocono: Lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin 2007

Astaxathin may not work for everyone, as about 10 % of persons are insensitive to carotenoids [and astaxanthin].  Sorochan: Astaxanthin 2017

Video below provides more information about glaucoma:

Edward Kondrot, Glaucoma big lie; Apr 25, 2017  Length = 41:16 mns.

Source: Kondrot: U-Tube


Alila Medical Media, "Glaucoma." 2016. Alila Med Ctr: Glaucoma 2016

Capelli Bob and Gerald Cysewski, NATURAL ASTAXANTHIN The World’s Best Kept Health Secret, [Book], 2013. Capelli: world's best kept secret 2013

Capelli Bob and Gerald R. Cysewski, "Potential health benefits of spirulina microalgae*A review of the existing literature," Nutra Foods, 2010, 9(2) 19-26.   Capelli article is no longer active.

Gall Carolin and others, "Alternating Current Stimulation for Vision Restoration after Optic Nerve Damage: A Randomized Clinical Trial," Journal PLOS. June 29, 2016.  Gall article is no longer active.

Haddrill Marilyn, "What Causes Glaucoma?" AllAboutVision.  Haddrill: glaucoma cause

Kondrot Edward C., "Bates was right! Research Confirms Sunning is beneficial!" Healing the eye & Wellness Center, 2017.  Kondrot: Benefits of sunning 2017

Glaucoma Research Foundation, "Can Glaucoma Be Cured?"  GRF: Claucoma cure

Haddrill Mariln, "What Causes Glaucoma?" Haddrill: Glaucome cause

Li Shan, "Glaucoma: The Silent Blinding Disease," UNSF Department of Opthalmology, [UCTV], December 2, 2014.  Li: Glaucoma 2014

Health Prep, "10 Different Types of Glaucoma And How To Identify Each One."  HealthPrep: 10 Different Kinds

Mayo Clinic,  Mayo Cl: Glaucoma causes

Najeeb, "Aqueous Humor - Production, Circulation & Drainage part 2/2." Video. Najeeb: eye function

National Eye Institute, "Facts About Glaucoma."  NEI: Glaucoma

Richardson Gail, "Beyond Eye Health: How Astaxanthin Combats Degenerative Disease," ProHealth, July 22, 2015.  Richardson article no longer active.

Santocono M, Zurria M, Berrettini M, Fedeli D, Falcioni G. Lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin protect against DNA damage in SK-N-SH human neuroblastoma cells induced by reactive nitrogen species. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2007 Jul 27;88(1):1-10.  Santocono: Lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin 2007

Sears William, Natural Astaxanthin Hawaii's supernutrient." Book,  Sears: Astaxanthin supernutrient

Sorochan Walter, "Spirulina Astaxanthin,, November 23, 2017.  Sorochan: Astaxanthin 2017

WebMD,WebMD: Glaucoma causes

Wikipedia, "Cararact." Wiki: Cataract

Wikipedia, Macular degeneration. Wiki: Macular Degeneration