Look out for your eyes
How often do you think about the health of your eyes? Perhaps if you notice that you need new glasses? Or maybe if you get a stye or your eyes are dry and tired? Our eyes are one of the most hard working and important parts of our body and yet, we tend to take them for granted. Until that is, something major goes wrong.
As eye health is something very close to my heart, I thought this month I’d share some simple steps you can incorporate into your routine to help protect and nurture your eyes as well as explain the role acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have to play in supporting the health of your eyes.
Lifestyle steps for good eye health
As an underlying routine, always make sure you get your eyes checked by an optician at least every two years, whether you feel that you need it or not. A good optician will perform a number of checks which will pick up any potential issues early.
It’s also sensible to find out about your family’s health and eye history too, just in case there are any conditions which you may be more susceptible to.
Tempting as it is to stare at that golden sunset, don’t and avoid too much exposure to the sun during the course of the day. Ongoing UV exposure can increase your risk of developing Cataracts or possibly Macular Degeneration. Make a point of wearing proper sunglasses that provide protection (the level of protection should be on the label when you buy them marked as CE or BS EN 1836:2005).
There are also lots of household chores that are potentially dangerous to our eyes. Strimming in the garden, weeding around thorny or spikey plants, using paint stripper or paint. Think twice before you start and wear protective goggles or even sunglasses if you have nothing else to hand.
Lifestyle habits and changes
As with all aspects of your health, if you’ve got issues with your eyes, assessing your diet, daily routines and lifestyle are a great place to start. If you wear contact lenses, it is important to be scrupulous in your hygiene and always follow the proper instructions for use. Wash and dry your hands before touching your contact lenses or your eyes, use the proper cleaning solution and don’t reuse disposable lenses.
I know it’s not easy but try and give up smoking as the smoke is a harmful eye irritant and ensure you have a healthy balanced diet. Nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins C and E can help to slow the progress of age-related vision problems such as Macular Degeneration and you’ll find these in green leafy vegetables, oily fish such as salmon and citrus fruits. If you can, reduce your alcohol and caffeine consumption as these can been dehydrating.
Finally, take a moment to assess your screen time and stress levels. It’s not easy but try and limit the time you spend staring at a screen, whether that’s a desk top computer, TV, laptop, tablet or phone. Staring at a screen for long hours can cause blurred vision, double vision, dry, red eyes, irritation, headaches and neck or back pain.
Your levels of stress can also affect your eyes and even the medication you take may have an impact. All of which underlies the message that if you have got an issue with your eyes, it’s important to evaluate your lifestyle as a whole rather than just look at your eyes in isolation.
Chinese Medicine and eye health
Even if you’ve tried acupuncture, there is a chance you may not have considered it in relation to your eye health but as I’ve mentioned already, your eyes are an important organ and according to Chinese Medicine, they can affect or be affected by other health issues elsewhere in the body.
That means as a practitioner, in addition to asking you about your overall lifestyle, I would also discuss your health overall. So, for example, I might ask you questions about your immune system, digestion, and other health issues that may seem to be unrelated. Different parts of your eyes have a close connection with your liver, kidney, lungs, arteries and veins to the heart, spleen and stomach.
Eye treatment and acupuncture
The most common question I get asked about eye treatment often comes hand in hand with a look of terror. So, please rest assured, I am not going to stick needles in your eyes!
Acupuncture is a safe, natural and effective treatment for a vast range of eye issues including vision loss, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, Retinal Detachment, Optic Neuritis, Diabetic Retinopathy, Optic Nerve Atrophy and Cataracts. Acupuncture also has the advantage of not having any nasty side effects.
There are a number of different techniques that we can use as part of treatment which include micro-acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, massage and exercises as well as lifestyle advice.
Micro acupuncture is a relatively new acupuncture system that involves 48 acupuncture points only on the hands and feet. It can be used to treat a range of eye issues. Electro acupuncture is the practice the inclusion of small electric currents used to stimulate muscles and nerves and auriculotherapy describes any acupressure or acupuncture treatment that’s limited to your ears.
Apart from changes to lifestyle, there are a number of techniques that can help improve eye health, including gentle massage. Massage can help tired or dry eyes, increase blood circulation and release muscle tension and it’s also something you can do yourself every morning or evening. Alternatively, it can form part of an overall treatment.
If you’d like some advice on eye massage, I’ve just recorded a video about this which you can view here or sign up to my newsletter – the latest one has got a full description of what to do.
I’ve mentioned diet already, and I’ve also recently been writing about the Vision Diet. Again, if you’d like more information about this, you’ll find details in my latest newsletter where you’ll find I’ve also created a daily routine which will help with eye health and with your general wellbeing and health.
Above all else, my takeaway message for this month, is “take care of your eyes” regardless of whether you currently have any problems. By improving your overall health now, you improve your chances of not having issues in the future, and if you do have problems already, small lifestyle changes combined with treatment can do a lot to help tackle the cause and alleviate the symptoms.
If you’d like to know more about acupuncture or discuss any health issues, please get in touch.