It was brought to my attention by a recent article that myopia (near-sightedness, which is seeing things close up but needing glasses for distance) is exploding in populations around the World. Myopia in the UK has doubled in the past 60 years. The U.S. population of myopia sufferers, up to the end of the baby-boomers, has tripled in the past 30 years! Something is going on and it’s worth taking a closer look.
The eyes work to focus on an object with the help of muscles that change the shape. One way for looking close up and another for looking off in the distance. As we “evolve” or pass tendencies on to each generation based on the habits, afflictions, stresses, etc, dealt with by each passing generation, it is important to look at both genetic changes, epigenetic stressors and environmental/toxicity issues that may be affecting how our eyes work. As I am not a geneticist, I will address the latter issue.
Stress may be defined in many ways; physical, environmental, emotional, chemical, pathogenic, good, bad, etc. Let’s say, for the focus of this blog-post, that stress is anything that strains how our body functions. Having said this, doing nothing for too long is stressful.
Now that we’ve defined stress, let’s look at what kinds of stress most affect the eyes and our vision. When I was in school learning Chinese Medicine, having come from Allopathic or Western Medicine, I had a hard time with some of the transition as some of the same words meant different things. I was told that the Liver opens to the eyes. This didn’t make sense to me, so, yes, I was the guy whose hand kept popping up…at least for the first few weeks. What did make sense to me was that the liver, a major detoxification organ, had an important job to do and if it lagged in this job, toxicity built up in the system and affected function in various areas of the body; joints/connective tissue, digestive system and the eyes.
Now that I’ve been in Practice for 20 years, I have seen this manifest countless times. It is a fact, in my mind and has helped me help thousands of people get well. There are foods, herbs and nutrients we use to help the liver function better. There are also nutrients that have been identified as to having direct impact on the function of our eyes, lutein, being just one of them. Whether we have an “excess” or something that needs to be removed (toxicity) or a “deficiency,” something that needs to bolstered or tonified (nutrient deficit), it is important to identify said stress and correct it.
There is also, in the case of myopia, the concern for not getting adequate exercise for the muscles we use to focus on distant objects. Kids spend more time indoors and in front of screens, as do adults. Here-in lies the key to this article. We are getting sedentary to a point where it is statistically jumping off the charts, not just with weight, muscle-to-fat ratios and sky-rocketing blood sugar, but with diminished eye-sight, at least in seeing things at a distance. “Use it or lose it,” comes to mind.
Myopic thinking also contributes to myopia. Interestingly, most people wouldn’t buy into this, but there is such strong association, it is hard to argue, otherwise. It is defined as lacking imagination, foresight or intelligent thinking. In other words, short-sightedness or not seeing the big picture. This is a metaphysical example of health and a great example of how the mind and body are not separate and that they do affect one another. So, practice flexibility and “big picture” thinking…expand your perspective and your vision may very well expand with it…but be patient and give it time. Changing anything doesn’t happen overnight.
The other issue I want to bring up in this 30 year U.S. window of increased myopia is fast-food or nutrient-deficient foods and sugar. Our intake of heavily-processed, high levels of poor-grade salt and processed sugar have made us sick. This kind of stress is so culturally-supported that I sometimes have to be very direct with Patients who will get argumentative like an addict does at times during their withdrawal. Only when they reach “the other side” will rational statements come forth and thank you’s about how much better they are feeling or how much they feel like themselves for the first time in a long time.
I have actually gotten people out of their recently acquired glasses, too, through exercises, reduced screen times, diet and cleanses/juicing (depending on the Patient). So, get away from the TV/Computer/Cell-Phone, stand up and look off into the distance and if you need further help, reach out and let’s see what we can accomplish. I think you’ll like what you see.
Paul Gerst L.Ac.
Pooler Acupuncture at Ranicki Chiropractic Wellness Center
New Energy Natural Health Solutions (nenhs.com)