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Magnesium & Glaucoma

By Kate Beck

Glaucoma is an eye disease involving high intraocular pressure that damages your eye. This condition does not usually have early symptoms, but your eye doctor can detect warning signs during an examination. Left untreated, glaucoma can result in loss of peripheral vision, and advanced damage could result in complete blindness. Prescribed treatments may help prevent extensive damage, but some people look to supplements such as magnesium, which may have a small effect on glaucoma.

Eye Pressure

Your eye continuously produces aqueous humor, a clear fluid that fills the front chamber of your eye. As this clear fluid enters your eye, some of the fluid must drain out. If the drainage canal in your eye prevents the fluid from draining at a similar rate to the fluid entering your eye, this may cause the amount of aqueous to build up, increasing eye pressure.

A high pressure will push against other structures of your eye, including the vitreous fluid, the gel-like substance contained in the back section of the eye. The pressure will cause the vitreous to press against the blood vessels that lead to the optic nerve, gradually damaging the nerve fibers. Over time, this damage will slowly affect your side vision.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a vital nutrient for your body’s function, particularly your organs. Despite the importance of magnesium, taking magnesium supplements will not reduce your eye pressure. However, a 1995 study conducted at the University Eye Clinic in Switzerland determined that magnesium could increase blood flow in the back of the eye in people with glaucoma. In fact, some study participants had an improvement in side vision lost to glaucoma damage.

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Treatment

Even though magnesium could potentially improve vision loss related to glaucoma, this will not treat or prevent damage. The best way to keep your vision is to work with your doctor to find a treatment to reduce your eye pressure and minimize the likelihood of damage. Your doctor may recommend eye drops or oral medications to lower pressure. She will check your eye pressure periodically and perform vision tests to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. If she notes that your pressure remains too high, your doctor may make changes to your medications.

Considerations

You should not begin taking magnesium supplements without discussing the possible effects with your doctor. Depending on the type of glaucoma you have and the extent of glaucoma damage, magnesium may not help your eyes. If you take too much magnesium, or if you have a condition, such as kidney disease, magnesium use could result in serious side effects, including changes in your heart rate and blood pressure, and severe toxicity could result in confusion or a coma.

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