Magnesium For The Eyes

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a crucial role in the body by assisting more than 300 enzymes to carry out multiple chemical reactions such as the regulation of blood sugar, blood pressure, muscles, and nerve functions as well as building protein and strong bones. Magnesium is known to play an important role in eye health, especially in patients with glaucoma. It is a common eye condition where the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain is damaged. This leads to progressive loss of vision. Magnesium deficiency is associated with many ophthalmic diseases. Although magnesium is one of the most abundant nutrients in our body, many people are still deficient, and unaware.1, 2

Understanding magnesium for the eyes

Importance and benefits of magnesium for the eyes

Around 50% of magnesium is found in our bones, 50% in tissues and organs, and 1% in the bloodstream. Magnesium deficiency has been shown to contribute to the development of many neurological diseases such as migraine, Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular disease. Interestingly, magnesium, like vitamin C, has also been shown to play an important role in the development and normal functioning of our eyes.2

Magnesium is present in high concentration within many parts of the eyes including the cornea, lens, retina and anterior chamber. Magnesium within the cornea prevents dry eye disease and infection. Because magnesium is vital in cellular metabolism and the regulation of intracellular anionic balance, this means it is also important for the maintenance of the ocular structure, the structure of the eye. This was shown in a study that compared the magnesium level in healthy patients to the magnesium level of patients with Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG). The magnesium level of the healthy patients was estimated at 6.7mg/L compared to 3mg/L of the patients with POAG. This shows the importance of magnesium levels for normal ocular tissue function.2 3

Many animal studies have shown that magnesium deficiency has a negative impact on eye health. An experiment on rats found that a deficiency in magnesium in the developmental stages of growth can cause myelination disorders and cell death in the optic nerve. Also, magnesium has been found to be important in the maintenance of healthy ocular surfaces in the prevention of infections and dryness of the eyes.2

In addition, the high levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate in our retinal circulation and optic nerve can cause neurotoxicity and even cell death which can negatively affect eye health. However, optimum levels of magnesium in your body can block the release of glutamate and protect eye health. 2

How does it affect the eyes


Magnesium intake has been found to improve the ocular blood flow in patients with glaucoma and also protect the retinal ganglion cell against oxidative stress and cell death. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve which leads to progressive vision loss. The risk factors associated with glaucoma include vascular dysregulation in ocular blood flow and oxidative stress. Magnesium can be used as a treatment in patients with these risk factors in order to prevent or treat glaucoma.2

Vascular dysregulation is defined as a condition where blood flow is not properly regulated and distributed to meet the demands of different tissues. Patients with glaucoma have a reduction of blood flow in many ocular tissues including the retina, optic nerve, iris and choroid due to systemic hypertension, also known as high blood pressure in the arteries. Magnesium supplements as a treatment can work to protect the ocular tissues by regulating ocular blood flow and reducing oxidative stress. Studies also show that magnesium can increase ocular vasodilation and ocular blood flow. It does this by reducing the production of cytokines free radicals and preventing intracellular calcium entry which leads to a reduction ineduces ganglion cell injury, and death of neurons.2

Oxidative stress is involved in the development of glaucoma, and an unstable ocular blood flow can lead to the production of free oxygen radicals and cause oxidative damage in the retinal ganglion cells. Taking magnesium supplements can reduce oxidative stress and vasorelaxation in glaucoma patients. In addition, magnesium supplementation has been found to lower intraocular eye pressure (IOP). This is because magnesium works the same way as drugs such as channel blockers by blocking the uptake of calcium which relaxes the arteries. Magnesium deficiency causes an excess influx of calcium, and an overload of calcium leads to cellular swelling and cell death. An excess of calcium also causes oxidative stress and the production of free radicals which, as mentioned before, are risk factors for glaucoma.2

A study involved giving 10 glaucoma patients 121.5 mg of magnesium twice daily for one month and found that at the end of the 4 weeks of treatment, both the visual field and peripheral blood flow improved. Therefore, it can be concluded that magnesium has a great effect on eye health in patients with glaucoma.2

In addition to this, low magnesium has also been associated with inflammation which is involved in the progression of POAG. This is due to the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. A rat study found that magnesium deficiency led to the development of inflammatory disease and magnesium supplementation reduced inflammatory and immunological responses.3

Eye twitching

One of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency is eye twitching. Eye twitching is very common and is rarely a sign of something serious, and they are often linked to stress, anxiety, tiredness, caffeine, alcohol and certain medicines. Magnesium can act as a muscle relaxer, so a high intake of this nutrient can help reduce eye twitching. Taking 250-400 mg daily of magnesium oxide can help reduce the symptoms of muscle spasms and help you live a healthy lifestyle.4

Best sources of magnesium for eyes

To prevent magnesium deficiency and the development of disease, it is important to include magnesium-rich food in your diet or take a supplement. Magnesium is naturally occurring in many foods including plant foods (dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fortified cereals) as well as fish, poultry and beef.1

The best foods for magnesium include

  • Cashews, Almonds and Peanuts
  • Peanut Butter
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Spinach
  • Salmon
  • Pumpkin seeds

You can also take supplements of magnesium. This may be prescribed to you if your body is having trouble absorbing magnesium. Over-the-counter supplements can come in different forms, but liquid types such as magnesium citrate or magnesium chloride may be better absorbed by the body than tablets such as magnesium oxide and sulphate. However, it is important to be aware that high doses of magnesium, specifically magnesium hydroxide, can have a laxative effect.1


How much magnesium should I take for glaucoma?

A daily intake of 200-600mg of magnesium is optimal for improving eye health in patients with glaucoma and living a healthy lifestyle.5

Does magnesium help dry eyes?

A Dry eye is a condition caused by your eyes not producing enough tears or your tears evaporating too quickly. A deficiency in magnesium is linked to dry eye syndrome. Therefore, magnesium as well as vitamins A, C, D, E and B6 can help ease chronic and severe dry eyes. Adding these nutrients to your daily diet can reduce symptoms and discomfort.6

Can magnesium cure glaucoma?

Magnesium does not cure glaucoma but can significantly improve eye health in patients with glaucoma. 


Magnesium is an essential nutrient for the healthy function of many different parts of our body including the heart, bones, muscles and nerves. A low diet of magnesium can cause significant health problems, so it is important to include magnesium-rich foods in your diet in order to live a healthy lifestyle. Magnesium is especially important in eye health and has been shown to improve the visual field and retinal circulation in patients with glaucoma. Studies with both humans and animals show that a supplement of magnesium greatly improves eye health and though there have been studies showing these positive effects, further research should be conducted to open up even more therapeutic treatments for eye health through the use of magnesium.  


  1. Boston 677 Huntington Avenue, Ma 02115 +1495‑1000. Magnesium [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. 2019 [cited 2022 Dec 16]. Available from:
  2. Ekici F, Korkmaz Ş, Karaca EE, Sül S, Tufan HA, Aydın B, et al. The role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of glaucoma. Int Sch Res Notices [Internet]. 2014 Oct 13 [cited 2022 Dec 16];2014:745439. Available from:
  3. Elghobashy M, Lamont HC, Morelli-Batters A, Masood I, Hill LJ. Magnesium and its role in primary open angle glaucoma; a novel therapeutic? Frontiers in Ophthalmology [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 16];2. Available from:
  4. Summit EA of L. Eyelid twitches: 8 things you should know [Internet]. Eyecare Associates of Lee’s Summit. 2017 [cited 2022 Dec 16]. Available from:
  5. Natural approaches to supporting glaucoma treatment [Internet]. Napiers. [cited 2022 Dec 16]. Available from:
  6. Dry eye: cause, symptoms & supplements [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 16]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Suad Mussa

Bachelor of Science – BSc, Biology. Queen Mary University of London

Suad Mussa is a biology graduate with a strong passion for medical writing and educating the public about health and wellbeing.

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