Baltimore—Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States, and the fact that it lacks regulatory oversight creates some cause for concern. However, when it comes to glaucoma, it appears that CAM use is modest and mostly benign, but also backed by little evidence of efficacy, said Derek S. Welsbie, MD, PhD.
Dr. Welsbie noted that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health estimates that Americans are spending $34 billion a year on CAM. However, studies of glaucoma patients seen at university-based practices in the United States and Canada found only 5% and 14% of participants, respectively, were using CAM for their disease.
Across the two studies, megavitamins/antioxidants, bilberry, gingko biloba, carrots, and a topical formulation of n-acetylcarnosine (Bright Eyes) were the most commonly reported CAM agents being used. The prevalence of marijuana usage for glaucoma is difficult to determine accurately, but in two studies, self-reported usage was ≤2%, noted Dr. Welsbie, assistant professor of ophthalmology, The Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore.
“The most commonly used CAM agents correspond with the top hits of a Google search for alternative medicine and glaucoma, suggesting patients are turning to the Internet as their leading source of information,” Dr. Welsbie said. “Particularly notable is the fact that the top hits are links to university websites.”
Lack of scientific support