by Mats Sexton, LAc, DiplAc
More often than not, when people are diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease such as macular degeneration, they are told by their ophthalmologist, “There’s nothing you can do.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. The growing field of Chinese medicine ophthalmology can be a savior for vision.
While most people associate Chinese medicine with acupuncture only, there are actually five branches to this comprehensive and holistic approach to wellness, including massage, herbology, nutrition and exercise.
Undoubtedly, most people wince when the words “acupuncture” and “eyes” are used in the same sentence. However, there are several acupuncture protocols that use acupoints on the hands and feet which can help with vision. AcuNova, developed in Denmark by John Boel, takes a neurologic approach to disease and involves the insertion of just two tiny needles in the hand and two in the feet. Some recipients of a series of about 20 treatments have even begun driving again. Typically, the acupuncturist will use additional points on the limbs to help with overall systemic health. But, to be clear, no needles go in the eyes!
Chinese medicine does not view macular degeneration as an eye disease, but rather it’s regarded as a systemic circulatory issue. The plaques or “drusen” that build up in the retina are virtually the same as any other atherosclerotic plaques found throughout our bodies as we age. Thus, if only the eyes are considered in the course of treatment, there is little chance for lasting visual improvement and restoration of overall health.
Nutrition is a top priority. While the typical course of action is to take eye vitamins, the better course is to actually eat real food. Bodies crave whole foods and need to eat surprisingly little to equal the amount of nutrients in the supplements. About two leaves of kale, a handful of almonds and an orange will provide the same nutrients as the leading eye supplements. Increasing intake of vegetables and leafy greens in general is a fundamental step to improving vision.
Along with nutrition, herbology in Chinese medicine can be an important tool to complement the effects of treatment. Unlike most vitamin supplements, the ingredients in Chinese herbals are often things we don’t typically eat, such as flowers, roots and other parts of plants. Chinese “tea pills” are inexpensive, easy to swallow and a very effective addition to any course of treatment.
Lastly, some form of daily aerobic activity such as yoga, tai chi, walking, running or swimming is mandatory in helping your eye condition and systemic well-being. For the more adventurous, there are programs for blind snow skiing and tandem bicycling. There is no need to give up your favorite activities because of low vision. Inactivity invites stagnation, poor circulation and a decline in our body’s ability to properly move blood through our vessels, food through our gut and even to think clearly.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease, consider opening your eyes to a new kind of treatment like Chinese medicine. Despite what you may have been told, there actually is quite a lot you can do to improve your sight.
Mats Sexton, LAc, DiplAc has been practicing Chinese medicine for 20 years and has specialized in the treatment of degenerative eye diseases since 2003. He is licensed through the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice and is committed to improving and saving the sight of his clients while making the experience enjoyable and educational. For more information, call 952-922-2141 or visit PinDoctor.com.
by Mats Sexton, LAc, DiplAc