If you study a horizontal section of an eyeball you will see the complexity of the eye and perhaps, like me, wonder why more things do not go wrong. Light has to travel through the conjunctiva and cornea through a variety of channels and fluids to affect the retina, which is a collection of nerve endings and light sensitive cells which are at the end of the fibres which join together and become the optic nerve. These, in turn, transmits the impulses to the optic centres at the back of the brain. Problems anywhere along this pathway will lead to visual disturbance. Neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis may show up as double vision and specific problems are discussed here under their own title.
The function of the eye is to bring the rays of light that enter to a sharp focus on a layer of light-sensitive receptors at the back of the eye known as the retina. Light rays are bent towards the retina mostly as the light passes through the cornea and the anterior and posterior chambers of the eye, which are fluid-filled. However, part of the adjustment occurs through the lens. The lens is itself contractible, controlled by the ciliary muscles. This ability to change the width of the lens is known as accommodation. In our youth the lens is elastic and objects can be sharply focused by accommodation but from the age of eight years onwards and usually by middle age the elasticity of the lens becomes reduced and the unaided eye can no longer see objects as clearly. This condition of diminishing close accommodation is known as presbyopia. At some point it is most common for adults to require reading glasses, for fine print in particular.
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. This often presents as redness associated with discharge, and treatment is similar to that for conjunctivitis.
Consider the remedies Graphites, Sulphur, Apis and Euphrasia from your preferred homeopathic manual.
The fluid extract of Euphrasia can be used in a dilution of two drops to one eyebath of water.
Avoid topical antibiotics if possible because these will kill the good bugs as well as the bad and allow the possibility of a difficult bacteria to enter the eye.
A blurring of vision may be created by faulty accommodation but things tend to come back into focus either in the distance or close up, depending on the type of problem. Blurred vision at any distance is liable to be either traumatic or due to a disease process affecting the neurological pathways and should initially be dealt with by a specialist.
Any problem with vision, whether acute in onset or gradual, should be reviewed by a specialist for a firm diagnosis.
Eye exercises may make a profound difference, especially those known as Bates eye methods. In principle, Bates and other eye training techniques teach the brain to ‘see’, not ‘look’, by a series of exercises. The techniques are best taught, although books can be found on the subject but time and patience are required.
Stress and tiredness cause changes in muscle tension and may therefore affect the shape of the lens, thereby altering an individual’s ability to accommodate. ‘Eye strain’ does not actually exist but persisting anxiety and tiredness may come close to creating something along those lines.
The use of spectacles and contact lenses should be considered in divided doses throughout the day and review the diet with a nutritionist to find out why the deficiency has occurred.
Blurred vision or problems not corrected with spectacles or contact lenses must be reviewed by an ophthalmic specialist.
This is a medical term for protruding eyeballs. Genetic or hereditary protrusion is, of course, not a medical problem but the development of exophthalmos usually indicates some pathology. Sadly, the common cause is emaciation of the face, through starvation, but this is not true exophthalmos because it is really only a relative widening of the eyes in comparison to the surrounding tissues. Unilateral exophthalmos is usually associated with tumour growth in the orbit or eye socket but by far the most common cause of exophthalmos, typically bilaterally, is Graves’ disease. This is a condition of hyperthyroidism at its extreme. The raised levels of thyroxine, and in particular another hormone called long-acting thyroid stimulator, encourage the small amount of fat that lies behind the eyeball in the orbit to grow excessively. This increased fatty tissue pushes the eyeballs forward.
The development of exophthalmos requires a medical opinion.
Once a full diagnosis has been made a complementary medical practitioner may be able to offer treatment for the underlying condition but, unfortunately, exophthalmos is not reversible.
In extreme circumstances operative procedures may be feasible.
Floaters are small black dots of irregular shape that are visible by all of us if we look. They are caused by small amounts of debris in the vitreous humour of the eye. Floaters are usually not noticed but trauma or diseases of the retina may cause larger fragments, which become disturbing.
An increasing number of floaters should be viewed by an eye specialist.
Sadly, I have not come across any alternative or orthodox therapies that can help with floaters. They are often broken down and reabsorbed by the body and may not, therefore, be a persistent problem.
Hypnotherapy may be beneficial in helping to ignore the visual annoyance.
Glaucoma is an increase in pressure within the eye, usually caused by an obstruction to the outflow of the fluid in the eye. There is, rarely, an increase in production of this fluid, which is not drained quickly enough and this results in an imbalance.
There may be some correlation between longstanding glaucoma and the amount of a type of a protein called collagen found in the tissues of the body, which acts as a type of scaffolding. An excess of collagen may block the outlet, as may abnormalities in the tissues at the back of the eye. There are two types of glaucoma:
Acute glaucoma Acute glaucoma presents with a severe pulsating pain in the eye, blurred vision and, commonly, nausea or vomiting. The pupil will be dilated and fixed and does not respond to light as it should. Acute glaucoma can occur in one eye only.
Chronic glaucoma This may have no symptoms until the condition has been present for several years. It is noticed as a gradual loss of peripheral vision and if left untreated will result in tunnel vision, which is exactly as it sounds. If no action is taken then pain, blurring, headaches and nausea will eventually result. I have one patient whose eyeball pressure rose at times of stress. This is not a well-recognized factor, but it may be that stress can cause glaucoma.
Acute glaucoma is a medical emergency. If untreated, the pain will be excruciating and blindness will ensue. Rush to an emergency department and therapy needs to be started within 48hr.
Any disturbance of vision must be checked initially by an optician who will refer you to your family practitioner who will decide on whether a specialist is required. Do not delay because many conditions can progress rapidly to blindness.
Many studies support the belief that allergy may play a major part in chronic glaucoma. Food allergy testing is a highly recommended procedure.
Vitamin C is known to reduce inner eye pressure and in chronic glaucoma should be used at a dose of Ig per 10kg of body weight in divided doses with meals through the day. One gram of vitamin C can be taken every 15min in acute glaucoma and every hour once treatment has been initiated. Take natural food state vitamin C, otherwise at these levels you are guaranteed to upset your digestion.
Blueberry extract – anthocyanoside, 15mg per foot of height taken three times a day initially may be used in chronic glaucoma. Continued use of this compound should be monitored by a complementary practitioner with experience in this area.
Learn a relaxation/meditation technique.
Homeopathic remedies may be chosen on the symptoms but the remedies Spigelia and Phosphorus should be reviewed initially. Spigelia 6 should be taken every 15min on the way to the hospital in acute glaucoma.
Do not refuse orthodox eyedrop treatment, regardless of trying alternative therapies.
MYOPIA AND HYPERMETROPIA
A normal eye produces a sharp image on the retina of an object at a distance by not bending, or accommodating, the lens at all. However, not all eyes are the same. Some are too long from front to back and the focus forms in front of the retina causing a blurred vision . This can be corrected by providing the individual with a concave spectacle or contact lens.
Other eyes are too short, in which case they form the positive image behind the retina once again causing blurring . This problem is corrected by a convex or positive spectacle or contact lens.
Not all blurred vision is created by defects of light refraction, and disease or damage to the retina or optic nerves may be the reason. Vitamin C and nutritional deficiencies can also cause problems, as can tiredness and stress.
Any visual problem can reduce confidence and, in the case of short-sightedness, close the world around an individual. Simple pleasures like going to the theatre, a football match or taking part in field games become more difficult and a vanity concerning wearing glasses or contact lenses can often lead to mild but repairable psychological difficulties. Children in particular may not wish to disclose their ‘failing’ and an eye test is advisable for any child who is failing at school or is becoming less sociable. A change in hand-eye co-ordination may well be a visual problem.
One must always ask the question when confronted with a visual problem: ‘what do I not want to see?’
Difficulty in seeing at night or in a darkened environment may be a matter of becoming short-sighted . However, deficiency of a chemical called rhodopsin, which is found in association with vitamin A, may stop the specialized pigment cells in the retina from working properly. Other causes include glaucoma and decreased circulation to the retina. The symptoms may be most noticeable when driving at night.
Any problem with vision should be checked by a GP or ophthalmic specialist.
Ensure that your glasses or contact lenses are correct.
Increase the intake of yellow/orange and deep-green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin and squash. Supplementation may be made by taking lmg of beta-carotene or 2,000iu of vitamin A per foot of height in divided doses throughout the day.
Anthocyanidin extract from blueberry can be taken at 20mg per foot of height in divided doses.
The homeopathic remedies Belladonna and Nux vomica may be useful if taken at potency 30 each night for ten days. Other remedies can be chosen for poor night-time vision but these should be selected on your constitution as a whole by a homeopath.
Tobacco can affect night vision and smoking should be stopped.