Showing posts with label the optic nerve. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the optic nerve. Show all posts

Friday, February 15, 2013

Glaucoma: Invisible and Incurable

Known as the silent thief of sight, its most common form has no warning signs. It is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, but there is no cure to reverse the damage it inflicts. It is estimated that glaucoma afflicts over 2.2 million Americans, but only half of the people that comprise that statistic are aware that they have the disease.

Do you know what glaucoma is, or what the treatment of glaucoma entails? The lack of awareness in this area of vision care is alarming. According to a 2002 Prevent Blindness America Survey cited by the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), half of people surveyed had heard of glaucoma, but did not have an understanding of what it is. Even more disturbing, 30% of those surveyed admitted that they had never even heard of it. The divide between this disease’s impact and its public awareness is wide.

Glaucoma involves the optic nerve.
Glaucoma involves complications of the optic nerve, typically in both eyes, which causes vision impairment or loss. As fluid pressure in the eye rises around the optic nerve, vision gradually becomes impaired. The GRF states that “everyone is at risk for glaucoma.” Glaucoma is more common with the elderly, but also afflicts infants and young adults. Although it's rare in babies, approximately one out of every 10,000 infants in the US are born with glaucoma. African Americans are 15 times more likely to suffer vision impairment from glaucoma than Caucasians.

Despite these statistics, the GRF reports that less than half of all adult Americans get the vision exam best suited to detect this grievous disease— a dilated eye exam. Popular misconceptions about which vegetables aid vision are not helpful, either. How many times have you heard that carrots are good for your eyes? Research now shows that although carrots are high in antioxidants, those antioxidants are not the type commonly found in the eye.

The two types of antioxidants that are highest in the eye are lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are found in spinach. Foods with vitamins C, E, A, and zinc are also recommended as supplements due to their high antioxidant content. According to, the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of fish are also helpful with membrane support and reducing inflammation in the eye.

Here is a great, glaucoma-fighting fish recipe from to get you started on your all-natural, preventative diet:

Foods with vitamins C, E and A, plus
omega-3 fatty acids can help support eye health.
(Photo by Richard Eskite found on

Seared Salmon on Baby Spinach (serves 2, prep time is 45 minutes) 


2 7-ounce skinless salmon fillets
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 large shallots, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
3 ounces baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup whipping cream


Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon; sauté until just opaque in center, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in same skillet. Add half of shallots and half of tarragon; sauté 30 seconds. Increase heat to high; add half of spinach and toss 30 seconds. Add remaining spinach; toss until wilted. Divide between plates.

Melt remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining shallots and tarragon; sauté 30 seconds. Add wine and cream and boil until sauce is thick enough to coat spoon, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Return salmon to skillet; simmer 1 minute. Arrange salmon with sauce atop spinach.

If you aren't ready to take the plunge into reconstructing your diet, supplements are an option. However, be sure to consult your doctor first. Just as with prescription drugs, too much of a supplement could do more harm than good. Do some research, take preventative action, and receive the proper eye care. Get in front of glaucoma and stop the silent thief of sight. If you do require prescription medication, download the FamilyWize discount prescription card to save up to 75% on your medications. There is a link to download the free card in the upper, right-hand corner of this blog. Also, visit our Community Resources page for assistance with health care.

Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer