What Are Common Problems With Vision?
From Modern Western Medicine
Most visual disorders arise from errors of refraction, or a failure of the eye to focus light properly on the optic nerve, which is a postage stamp-sized group of nerves at the back of the eye. The cause of these problems are misshapen eyeballs; either they are too long (in the case of near-sightedness or myopia) or too short (in the case of far-sightedness or hyperopia). Distortions in the shape of the eye prevent the eye from focusing images properly on the optic nerve. Both problems can be corrected with glasses or contacted lens.
After the age of 40, the lens of the eye can lose flexibility and cause problems focusing on nearby objects, a condition called presbyopia. Reading glasses are usually prescribed by an ophthalmologist, or eye doctor. If there are two or more refractory problems, bifocals, or trifocals may be needed.
Another common problem affecting the eyes, especially among the elderly is cataracts, or the gradual hardening of the lens. The lens becomes increasing opaque, as cloud-like images start to appear. Vision is blurred and hazy; halos appear around the lights; and the person may have difficulty seeing at night. Eyeglasses may compensate, but surgery is often recommended to replace the damaged lens with a plastic implant.
For people 60 years and older, a small area at the center of the retina where cells detect light and color—a group of cells called macular—can degenerate, making the ability to see find details difficult, if not impossible. Straight lines or details begin to appear wavy or distorted. Peripheral vision usually remains, however. Laser surgery can sometimes be helpful.
Glaucoma is a disorder in which the pressure within the eye increases and, in the process, damage blood vessels that supply the retina and optic nerve. An early sign of glaucoma is a gradual loss of peripheral vision, but a routine eye test can determine if the intercellular pressure is increasing. Medication can control and reduce the pressure within the eye and sometimes laser surgery is necessary.
From Traditional Medicine
Chinese medicine maintains that the eyes are nourished by the liver; the liver meridian runs through the tissues surrounding the eyes and brings qi, or life force, to the entire area. When qi is diminished to the eyes, distortions begin to occur, including myopia, hyperopia, cataracts, and glaucoma. All forms of eye disorders are therefore seen as a liver imbalance and treated by restoring qi to the area around the eyes.
Of all the organs in the human body, the liver has the greatest regenerative powers. More than ½ the liver can be impaired and the organ can still heal and regenerate, given the right conditions. The foods listed below will enhance liver function and allow the organ to heal itself.
Finally, pioneer scientist Nathan Pritikin, creator of the Pritikin diet and exercise program, maintained that glaucoma and cataracts occur because the tiny vessels within the eye become blocked with atherosclerosis, the result of a diet excessively high in fat and cholesterol. In order to improve vision, Pritikin recommended sufficient reduction of animal foods to reduce fats and cholesterol. The recommendations listed below are consistent with Pritikin’s advice.
- See the section on the Liver in Part IV for ways to enhance liver function.
- Avoid eating 3 hours before bed so that the liver has time to regenerate in the evening and at night, without having to work hard at assisting digestion.
- Two days a week, drink lemon water instead of breakfast. Chinese healers maintain that moderate amounts of sour taste strengthen and purify the liver.
- Do not overeat.
- Get plenty of exercise and rest.
- Do the eye exercises listed below for myopia and hyperopia.
Food to Eat
- Raw vegetables, especially sprouts and greens, leafy vegetables
- Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrots, winter squash, pumpkins, cantaloupe, and apricots
- Black sesame seeds
- Dried, unripe raspberries (for blurred vision)
- Whole grains
- Almonds and sunflower and sesame seeds
Foods to Avoid
- Fried foods
- Refined grain products
- Dairy products
- Nuts (except almonds)
Do the following exercises several times per day. Hold your index finger up to the level of your mouth at a distance of about 2 feet in front of your mouth. Focus on a detailed object, poster, or work of art at a distance of 10 to 20 feet. Hold the focus for 10 seconds. Shift your focus to the top of your index finger. Hold the focus on your finger for 10 seconds. Shift your focus again to the object at a distance. Hold the focus for 10 seconds. This is two repetitions of this exercise. Do at least 10 repetitions, at least three times a day. The exercise strengthens the eye muscles and restores the eye’s ability to make accurate refractions.
See a licensed homeopath for a constitutional treatment.
For glaucoma, take 30C of belladonna every 15 minutes for up to 10 doses when symptoms start. This remedy also treats blurred vision and pain in one eye, made worse by bright lights.
- Beta-carotene: 15 – 30 mg daily may prevent onset of cataracts
- Vitamin C: 500 mg per day to prevent cataracts