Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can elevate inner eye pressure to dangerous levels and damage the optic nerve, causing permanent vision loss. Today, more than three million Americans have glaucoma, but half are unaware they have the disease.
Emerging Glaucoma Treatments
Scientists are always seeking new treatments that will prevent the death of retinal cells and regenerate diseased nerve fibers in the optic nerve. In the past, researchers found that a particular molecule called NAD declines in the retina as people age and it puts retinal cells at risk for degeneration.
Studies have found nicotinamide, a water-soluble form of vitamin B-3, prevented NAD depletion and reduced the risk of glaucoma in animals. Nicotinamide is found in foods like poultry, fish, eggs, and cereal grains.
A new study in Sweden is exploring a new potential neuroprotective therapy for glaucoma. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and St. Erik Eye Hospital are testing nicotinamide on animal and cell models for glaucoma.
Pete Williams is Assistant Professor and Research Group Leader for glaucoma at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Karolinska Institutet, and St. Erik Eye Hospital. “What we have demonstrated in cell and animal models is directly making its way to patients in the Swedish health care system,” said Williams. “This exemplifies our commitment to generating translatable treatments for glaucoma” (Medical Xpress).
Is Vitamin B3 Safe as a Supplement?
If you have glaucoma or glaucoma runs in your family, you may think you should begin taking vitamin B3. However, you should not start any new supplements or vitamins without talking to your doctor.
If you have questions about new glaucoma treatments or natural treatments, call to make an appointment with your eye doctor. All medications can have side effects and can interact with other drugs.
Comprehensive Eye Exams Detect Glaucoma Early
Glaucoma can be a tricky disease to diagnose because it usually does not cause pain or symptoms in the early stages. By the time a patient begins to notice peripheral vision loss, permanent damage has already occurred. Therefore, it’s essential to have a yearly comprehensive eye exam with dilation. During an eye exam, your doctor will perform many assessments and test for common eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. There is no way to prevent glaucoma, but annual exams will help detect glaucoma early and prevent permanent eye damage.
Call your eye care center and make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam with your ophthalmologist. Are you at increased risk for glaucoma? Take our Glaucoma Risk Assessment and discover whether you could be at high risk for the disease.