Normal-Tension Glaucoma Image

Normal-Tension Glaucoma: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve been a longtime reader of Rebuild Your Vision, you’ve likely read plenty about glaucoma. Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases normally caused by high intraocular pressure. However, normal-tension glaucoma is not quite the same thing. So what is this more obscure form of the disease? 

Normal-Tension Glaucoma Image

As the name suggests, normal-tension glaucoma is a type of glaucoma that occurs when the intraocular pressure levels are almost normal. Since glaucoma is almost always caused by elevated tension in the eye, this type of the disease can be quite puzzling. 

If normal-tension glaucoma isn’t caused by higher pressure in the eyes, is it intrinsically less damaging than traditional forms of the disease? Unfortunately, the answer is no. So what exactly is going on with this abnormal type of glaucoma? Keep reading to find out. 

What Causes Normal-Tension Glaucoma?

As we mentioned before, normal-tension glaucoma is associated with almost normal levels of pressure on the eye. However, it still causes damage to the optic nerve – so you should still be on the lookout for this disease. 

Like most diseases, there are certain subgroups of people who are more likely to develop normal-tension glaucoma. Genetics are definitely involved, so if you have a family member who has been diagnosed with this disease, make sure you get your eyes checked regularly. (You should be doing that anyway!)

Those with Japanese heritage also tend to develop this disease more commonly. This is because people of Japanese ancestry carry a certain gene that makes them more susceptible to this disease. People with systemic heart disease like irregular heart beat are also more prone to developing normal-tension glaucoma. 

While all of these factors make certain people more likely to develop normal-tension glaucoma, researchers do not yet know what exactly causes this disease. 

Diagnosing Normal-Tension Glaucoma

This form of glaucoma comes without the usual telltale high levels of intraocular pressure. Because of this, it can be a bit more difficult to diagnose. If you fall into one of the subgroups of people prone to this disease and want to get checked for it, here is what to expect. 

Normal-tension glaucoma is usually diagnosed through an ophthalmoscope exam. This device allows the eye doctor to examine the optic nerves for damage. If the nerves appear red or cupped, you may have normal-tension glaucoma. 

A second way that normal-tension glaucoma is diagnosed is through the visual field test. This test allows doctors to map out a patient’s visual field. Blank spots in the field may indicate nerve damage, and therefore indicate normal-tension glaucoma. 

Because doctors and scientists know so little about this disease, their first reaction is often to suggest that patients go on medication or get laser surgery. While these can be effective treatments, there are natural ways you can fight this disease starting at any age. 

Preventing Normal-Tension Glaucoma

Scientists are unsure of what exactly causes normal-tension glaucoma. So, there is no cure or way of preventing this disease with 100 percent certainty. However, like with most eye conditions, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing it. 

Taking Care of Your Blood Pressure

Because blood pressure plays a vital role in the development of this disease, regulating your blood pressure can also help you prevent normal-tension glaucoma. 

So what can you do to regulate blood pressure? Pretty much the normal things you do (or we hope you do) to take care of your health already. Exercising regularly, eating healthy, and reducing your sodium intake earlier in life can all help you maintain good blood pressure and lower your risk of developing normal-tension glaucoma. 

While scientists are unsure whether adjusting your blood pressure can help treat the disease if you already have it, it certainly can’t hurt to take care of your body in general now in hopes of preventing the development of health and eye issues later. 

Diet

Of course, there are also a number of foods that you can eat to help strengthen your eyes and prevent normal-tension glaucoma naturally. Some of the best are dark leafy green vegetables. 

If you’ve been reading our blog, you know we recommend leafy green vegetables as a support for healthy vision in almost every single post. But why? It all comes down to the amount of carotenoids they contain. 

If you need a brief refresher on carotenoids, no worries. These nutrients are essentially responsible for the pigmentation of fruits and vegetables. So, the more vivid the color of your produce, the more carotenoids it will contain. The more carotenoids it contains, the better it will be for your eyes. 

But how do carotenoids help alleviate glaucoma? Carotenoids, like vitamins A and C, help reduce the amount of oxidative stress your eye experiences. Normal-tension glaucoma puts your eyes under a lot of oxidative stress. Antioxidants like carotenoids and these vitamins can do wonders for counteracting that stress. Plus, eating them before glaucoma develops can dramatically strengthen your eyes. This will reduce your risk for eye disease in the first place. 

After all, natural eye health starts with your diet.

Supplements

If dark green veggies aren’t your thing, that’s okay! There are other ways you can ensure you are getting enough of these essential nutrients to help prevent normal-tension glaucoma. One of the easiest ways is by taking supplements. 

But what supplements should you take? A study recently published in Current Neuropharmacology suggests that ginkgo biloba may be just the ticket. While this plant has been proven to help lower intraocular pressure, which is the problem for most glaucoma patients, it has also been proven to reduce oxidative stress. This means that ginkgo biloba is a great way to prevent glaucoma from developing in your eyes.

Ginkgo biloba isn’t really edible in leaf or seed form. So, the best way to take advantage of this plant’s benefits is to take the extract. You can buy pure ginkgo biloba supplements, but it may be even easier to take in this nutrient powerhouse through the Rebuild Your Vision Ocu-Plus Formula. When you take this supplement, not only do you get a good dose of ginkgo biloba, but you also get the proper dosages of 16 other eye-healthy vitamins and minerals. Many of these components also act as antioxidants, making them the perfect defender against normal-tension glaucoma. 

While little is known about the causes of normal-tension glaucoma, the good news is that since it is a form of glaucoma, we at least know what we can do to strengthen our vision to prevent and alleviate this disease. By keeping up with a healthy diet or supplement regimen and exercising moderately, you can ensure longevity for not only your eye health, but your health overall.

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About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics (just like his brother) with the dream of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he joined Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent nearly two decades studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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