Optic neuropathy refers to the damage seen in the optic nerve (i.e., the nerve responsible for vision) from any cause. The damage or death of nerve cells leads to the well-documented features of optic neuropathy, including vision loss and washed-out colors in the affected eye.
Since many cases of optic neuropathy are unilateral (i.e., affecting a single eye), patients are not usually aware of the vision loss or color distortion until a medical visit where the doctor asks them to cover their eyes.
Fortunately, there are numerous methods to stop the deterioration of your eyes and treat optic neuropathy.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the natural ways to treat optic neuropathy.
Natural ways to treat optic neuropathy
Besides pharmacological drugs, there are several ways that help patients with optic neuropathy. The best part about these methods is that they do not include medications, which means you don’t have to worry about the side effects.
Here are some natural ways to treat neuropathy in the eyes:
Blue-light blocking glasses
Blue light glasses have special lenses that block short-wave blue light.
You may need to wear blue light glasses if you have optic neuropathy with symptoms, such as redness, itchiness, and blurry vision, especially after prolonged use of digital devices.
The glasses serve as a filter that protects your eyes from the harmful effects of blue waves.
Before we continue, here is the definition of blue light:
Blue light is a short-wave light in the spectrum of visible colors. Its wavelength ranges between 400 and 500 nanometers (nm). According to studies, the damage of blue light peaks when its wavelength reaches 440 nm.
Here are a few examples of devices that emit blue light:
- Desk computers
- TV screens
How can blue light glasses benefit your vision?
According to manufacturers of blue light glasses, these products protect different structures of the eye from the damage of blue light.
Generally speaking, the damage occurs in two ways:
- High doses of blue light for a short duration
- Low doses of blue light for a long duration
Researchers demonstrated that short-wave light emitted from devices before bedtime may disrupt sleep patterns. Consequently, people become prone to developing sleep disorders, including insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and daytime sleepiness.
In a 2019 study, researchers concluded that using blue light glasses may improve sleep quality in Parkinson’s disease patients.
Furthermore, studies suggest that using blue light glasses improves sleep quality and duration.
Finally, preliminary research advocates for the use of blue light glasses to treat and prevent optic neuropathy.
Blue light glasses also help the following conditions:
- Melatonin secretion
Dietary supplements1. Lutein and zeaxanthin
Both of these products are carotenoids that protect the eye from blue and ultraviolet light, which can damage your eyes over time. They also improve your vision of colors.
Zinc is a potent antioxidant that protects the cells from oxidative stress.
Note that taking zinc supplements will negatively impact the absorption of copper, which is why researchers recommend taking both.
3. Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Thiamine is vital for the health of your eyes. In fact, some research suggests that taking vitamin B1, along with other vitamins, may lower the risk of cataracts. However, more clinical studies are needed before drawing any conclusions.
Vitamin B1 also dampens inflammation, which is the hallmark of most injuries that affect the optic nerve.
Finally, one study found that vitamin B1 may offer some benefits for uveitis, an inflammatory condition that affects the eye and could lead to optic neuropathy (when the inflammation spreads) and blindness.
Besides thiamine, researchers took an interest in the effects of vitamins B6, B9, and B12 on eye health.
Interestingly, the combination of these vitamins seems to lower the concentrations of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and optic neuritis.
In one clinical study, female participants experienced a 34% risk reduction of developing AMD while taking 1 milligram of vitamins B6, B9, and B12.
Vitamin B3, or niacin, helps convert food into energy and protects the cells from oxidative stress.
Recent studies suggest that vitamin B3 lowers the risk of glaucoma, a condition characterized by increased pressure inside the eyes, which leads to optic nerve damage.
In one observational study, scientists found a link between low intake of vitamin B3 and glaucoma.
Moreover, an animal study demonstrated that taking niacin supplements (high doses) prevents glaucoma.
With that said, more research is necessary to outline the role of niacin in preventing optic neuropathy.
Note that you need to avoid taking high quantities of niacin due to the risk of adverse effects. For instance, taking 1.5–5 grams per day can cause blurred vision, macular degeneration, and inflammation of the cornea.
Fortunately, consuming niacin-rich foods did not show any adverse effects.
5. Vitamin C
Several studies showed that vitamin C manages optic neuritis and other conditions that affect the eye, such as cataracts.
Vitamin C may also help with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). According to one study, taking vitamin C with other vitamins may slow down the progression of AMD by 25%.
Furthermore, vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, which is a protein that ensures the structural integrity of the cornea and sclera.
Note that the disintegration of the eye’s anatomy can apply pressure on the optic nerve, which eventually leads to optic neuropathy.
Foods that contain vitamin C include citrus and tropical fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, and kale.
Check out vitamin C supplements by clicking here.
The technology of E-ink screens is commonly referred to as bistable, which means that the screen is only consuming power when sources are changing.
These screens can lower the intensity of blue light exposure, which could theoretically improve your symptoms of optic neuropathy.
Blood serum tears
Blood serum tears are eye drops made from your own blood. The serum part refers to the remaining components after removing the cells, protein, and other elements from your blood sample.
Researchers found that these drops have healing properties that exceed those of artificial tears.
The primary ingredients found in blood serum tears are salt and water. Your healthcare provider could also add some lubricants to the mix. Due to the relatively rich content of blood serum tears, they have the ability to stimulate cell growth and recovery much more efficiently than artificial tears.
Here is what you can find in blood serum tears:
- Epidermal Growth Factor
- Hepatocyte Growth Factor
- Neurotrophic Growth Factor
- Vitamin A
In patients with optic neuropathy, these ingredients are severely depleted, which could potentially exacerbate their symptoms.
Similar to the other measures listed above, the effectiveness of blood serum tears varies from one individual to another.
Speak with your doctor before trying out this therapy.
Occlusion punctal plugs
Punctal plugs, or lacrimal plugs, are small devices placed in your tear ducts to block the drainage of fluids. The procedure is known as punctal occlusion.
The primary purpose of this procedure is to save your tears and prevent ocular dehydration. Applying artificial tears will also become more effective after a punctal occlusion.
In general, there are two types of punctal plugs:
- Collagen-made – dissolves in less than 7 days.
- Silicone-made – remains in place until it gets removed by your doctor.
If your optic neuropathy symptoms improve after attempting a temporary punctal occlusion, your doctor may recommend a more permanent solution.
Neuropathy in the eyes is a common condition that is severely underdiagnosed due to subtle clinical symptoms and irregular screening.
We hope that this article will serve as a guideline for protective measures that treat optic neuropathy and prevent further damage.
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