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Chinese Medicine for Poor Vision

Acupuncture & Herbs to Strengthen "Eye Chi"

By Dr. Hong Chen (over 20 yrs experienced)

  In the July/August' 98 issue of Vitality I addressed the use of Chinese medicine in the treatment of allergies. This month I will look at the use of acupuncture and herbs for poor vision. Weak eyesight (amblyopia of vision) is a type of low sight function and ametropia, which still can't reach normal levels even when glasses are worn.

There appears to be a correlation between vision and work/study habits. For example, this condition can be caused by intense periods of study work by students, or long periods of time spent in front of computer screens, or even excess time spent in front of a TV set, as well as more complicated reasons listed below.

If weak eyesight is not diagnosed, treated, and corrected early, it will get worse. Generally, western medicine considers childhood the ideal time to treat weak eyesight, then adolescence,while an adult diagnosis and treatment does not offer a favorable prognosis. However, treatment with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine has an excellent record of result for all three age groups.

Causes of Weak Sight

According to the theory of both Chinese and Western medicine, the causes of weak vision are as follows:

  1. Congential insufficiency. Babies born with either big or small eyeballs, whose vision is left untreated, are candidates for congenital ametropia, which causes weak vision.
  2. Bad habits. Holding reading and writing materials too close the eyes; poor posture, bad lighting (too dull or too bright).
  3. Eyestrain. Avoid it with breaks during study time and computer work, monitor the time children spend in front of a TVset, and make sure they sit at least 10 feet away from the screen. (Note: The strength of the electromagnetic field coming from a TV or computer diminishes with distance, so the further away the better.)
  4. Late discovery and treatment: Because there are no overt signs of eye problems, it is not easy for parents to discover that their children have poor vision. Regular vision checks are a good preventive measure.
  5. Eyeglasses. Many children and some adults do not like to wear glasses. However, if people with weak eye sight do not wear them, the alternative is a gradual weakening of sight. Harsh, but true.
  6. Diet. The consumption of too much sugar, dairy products and junk foods may contribute to vision problems (in severe cases, diabetes can lead to blindness). A balanced diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes is recommended.

In general, Chinese medical theory believes that the eyes are governed by the liver, therfore a chronically poor diet which congests and weakens the liver will have a negative impact on eyesight. In other words, the eyes are the windows of the liver. Since the health of the eyes is partially dependent upon liver function, vision disorders can be greatly assisted by clearing and tonifying the liver.

Treatment of Weak Vision

In terms of Western medicine, treatment of weak eyesight in childhood or early adolescence offers the best result. There are a number of treatment methods, including: training by optical machine, covering therapy, and wearing prescription lenses for life. For adults  with weak eyesight the prognosis is not an optimistic one, and results of this type of treatment are marginal.

However, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have demonstrated good results in treatment of weak eyesight from childhood through to adulthood.

One of the treatment mechanisms is related to Chi energy. The existence of Chi has been proven by modern science and technology experiments as a life energy flow in the human body. Acupuncture can promote or enhance the Chi energy running through the eyes, optic nerves, and visual centre channels by stimulation around eyes and in special acu-points and visual nervous centre channels. This treatment will also stimulate and activate stagnant Chi, helping to restore the energy flow within the eyes' meridians.

When treated by acupunture, patients should experience a tingling feeling spreading throughout the eye area, indicating that the energy channels are open and working.

Chinese herbal medicine can adjust total life mechanism of the body and help it reach a balance of energy and provide nutrition for eyes. Some tonic herbs to nurture vision cells, enhance sight function, and also to improve function of liver and kidneys, are usually recommend to be taken by the patient.

The functions of these tonic herbs for improving eyesight has a long and successful history in China, and further proved by strict modern medicine experiments.

Chi Gong, a Chinese martial arts, can increase acupuncture power and obtain even better results by directing the Chi of the practitioner into specific acupuncture points. Therefore, the combination of methodologies - acupuncture, Chinses herbs and Chi Gong - cand greatly increase treatment results and really improve the vision ability of patients.

Clinic Case Reports

  1. Hu Xin, female, nine years old, both sights: 0.3, sight after wearing glasses: 0.6. She has been treated by Western medicine methods for two years - cover therapy (this involves covering the stronger eye with an eye-cover, and using only the weak eye to see, so that the weak eye is strengthened). Her doctor also used training by optical machine. However, her vision did not improve. Following a course of acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbs, her vision improved to a standard 1.0, or normal. The specific herbs included wolf-berry fruit (lycium barbarum), cassia seed (cassia tora or jue ming zi), chrysanthemum flowers (ju hua) etc. These herbs are known to strengthen eye function when used correctly.
  2. Allen, male, 28 years old. Airport worker. His left sight: 0.1 (very weak), right sight:1.0 (standard, normal). He cannot wear glasses because there is a big difference in ametropia between his eyes, as a result it interferes with his ability to work. Following as eye examination I used acupuncture and Chi Gong to improve his vision. With each session his left sight improved and, finally, it increased to a standard 1.0, normal. He is very happy with the results of his treatment, which has no side effects, and even better, he need not wear glasses.
  3. Ali, male, 41 years old. An editor. His left sight: 0.5 (0.6 after wearing glasses) weak vision, right sight: 1.0 (1.2 after wearing glasses) normal. I treated him with acupuncture. At the first session, I inserted acupuncture needles to special acu-points located on meridians around the eyes and optic nerves (these points are known as Zu taiyang pang gua jing and Zu shao yang dan jing). After 10 minutes, without wearing glasses, his left eye vision increaced to 0.8 (less). After 20 minutes, the left eye vision got very clear and increased to 0.8 (plus). At the second session, his left eye vision still kept at 0.8 (less) without glasses before treatment. After 10 minutes treatment, his left sight raised to 0.8 (plus) and clear. After 20 minutes, his left sight raised up to standard sight 1.0, without glasses.

As these case hitories demonstrate, acupuncture and Chinese herbs have a latent capacity and special place for treatment of vision problems.

For those wanting to strengthen their vision with Chinese herbs alone, a patent herb known as Qi Ju De Huan Wan can be used to improve eye functions and strengthen vision. However such herbs should be used carefully, under the supervision of experienced Chinese Medicine professionals. This is because weak vision can have numerous causes, and the condition cannot be properly and effectively treated until the precise cause is determined.

Chinese medicine doctors often will take the pulse of various organs and meridians in the body to determine if there is congestin or deficiency in a particular meridian. For example, if the liver pulse is "fast", then the treatment used will be different than if the liver pulse is weak or shows defeciency. As well, an examination of the tongue adds further information to the diagnosis.

Therefore, the acupuncture points and herbs used will very from one patient to the next, depending on the specific physiological condition of the individual constitution.

Preventive Measures

To prevent eye problems from developing, there are several lifestyle strategies that anyone can use. These include:

  1. Regular vision checks.
  2. Proper posture when sitting reading, studying, or watching TV.
  3. Good nutrition (avoidance of sugar is very helpful).
  4. regular exercise to stimulate circulation of Chi in the body, which in turn helps to clear blocked meridians and remove "toxic heat".

  Note: this article has been published on November 1998, issue of Vitality magazine. For  more information please contact Dr. Hong Chen at Chen Acupuncture Herbs Shiatsu Centre, 33 Lowbank (Steeles. E/ Bestview(between bayview and Leslie) /Harrington/Lowbank). Tel:    416 221-9074

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