New research suggests vitamin B3 could protect optic nerve damage that associated with glaucoma and blindness.
Glaucoma is a family of diseases characterized by elevated eye pressure that damages the optic nerve and can cause permanent vision damage. There is no cure for glaucoma, so an ophthalmologist's goal is to detect glaucoma early and treat it with eye drops or surgery to reduce inner eye pressure.
Professor Jonathan Crowston and Dr. Flora Hui of the Center for Eye Research Australia conducted a recent study on patients with glaucoma. The researchers gave glaucoma patients high doses of vitamin B3 every day for 12 weeks, in addition to the patients' daily medication to lower eye pressure. At the conclusion of the study, patients showed significant improvement in their vision.
"For the first time, we have shown that daily high doses of vitamin B3 can lead to early and significant improvements in patients who are also receiving traditional treatments to lower eye pressure,'' Dr. Hui said. "As a safe therapy that is well tolerated by patients, vitamin B3 has potential as a clinical supplement to support patients who are receiving glaucoma treatment" (Medical Express).
Dr. Hui is optimistic that vitamin B3 can protect nerve cells from damage and help repair cells that have already begun to deteriorate. She likens taking daily vitamin B3 to adding oil to a car engine to help it run smoothly. The next step, she explained, is to conduct a larger trial to evaluate whether patients can continue to improve and slow the progression of glaucoma over time.
Should I Start Taking Vitamin B3?
You may wonder, "Should I begin taking daily vitamin B3 to protect my vision?" Before you begin any new medication, even a supplement, call your eye doctor. Your doctor can discuss natural glaucoma treatments that you can take in addition to your daily medication. Remember that all medicines can have side effects and can interact with other drugs. Always ask your doctor before beginning any new supplement or medicine.
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Even if you think your eyes are healthy, you could still be at risk for glaucoma. More than three million Americans have glaucoma, but only half are aware they have the disease. Because glaucoma rarely shows symptoms in the early stages, it is a difficult disease to diagnose. Most people do not notice any pain with elevated eye pressure. One of the first noticeable symptoms of glaucoma is peripheral vision loss, but most people do not realize it until they have lost a significant amount of vision (Glaucoma Research Foundation).
How to Prevent Glaucoma
There is no way to prevent glaucoma, but you can protect your vision by scheduling annual comprehensive eye exams. Comprehensive eye exams include a pressure test using a method called tonometry. If your pressure is high and your doctor diagnoses you with glaucoma, you can begin your treatment immediately.
Be proactive in preventive care by scheduling an annual comprehensive eye exam. If you are not under the supervision of a licensed eye care professional, you can find an eye doctor in your area and schedule an appointment today.