Nutrition and Healing
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  • Ginkgo for glaucoma

    Q: I was recently diagnosed with normal-tension glaucoma. My ophthalmologist said it’s a relatively rare form of glaucoma and he’s considering several treatment options for me. But, in the meantime, I was wondering if there are any natural options I might also consider?

    Dr. Wright: For those readers who may not be familiar with it, normal-tension glaucoma is a form of glaucoma in which there’s no increased pressure in the eye (which is one of the typical hallmarks of glaucoma), but there is still damage to the optic nerve and retina. No one knows for sure how this happens, but, as my colleague and regular Nutrition & Healing columnist Kerry Bone wrote several years ago, it appears that Gingko can help those people suffering from it.

    In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, 27 patients with visual field damage resulting from normal-tension glaucoma received either 120 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract (equivalent to 6 g herb) or placebo.

    The researchers gave the subjects visual field tests at baseline and at the end of each four-week treatment phase. At the end of the study, the researchers noted a significant improvement in the Ginkgo group’s visual field, and none of the participants reported any side effects from
    taking the Ginkgo. The authors concluded that their results suggest that Ginkgo biloba extract can improve pre-existing visual field damage in some individuals with normal tension glaucoma.

    “Effect of Ginkgo biloba extract on pre-existing visual field damage in normal tension glaucoma.” Ophthalmology 2003; 110: 359-364

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