Difficulty seeing is a common problem, especially for older people. In fact, after fear of death, loss of vision is the second greatest worry among elderly people.[i]
Here at West Mesa Wellness we encourage patients to focus on prevention. To that end, Dr. Greif has collected the following research on natural solutions to preventing vision loss.
The statistics are sobering: 45 million people worldwide are blind, with 180 million having some type of visual handicap.[ii] Nine out of ten blind people live in developing countries. What’s worse, a staggering 80% of blindness is considered to be preventable.
Chiropractic May Improve Eyesight
Research indicates that chiropractic care may help improve eyesight, and in some cases reverse vision loss. Specifically, spinal abnormalities can affect eyesight, correcting dysfunctional areas in the spine known as vertebral subluxations may promote optimal vision. Chiropractors, like Dr. Greif, restore function and movement to the spine with specialized maneuvers known as chiropractic adjustments.
In a comprehensive survey of Swedish chiropractic patients, over 14% reported improved vision following chiropractic adjustments.[iii]
Another study documented the case of a female patient who had severe visual dysfunction caused by a brain aberration (Arnold-Chiari malformation). After chiropractic care, her capacity to see, read and perform smooth tracking eye movements vastly improved.[iv]
In another case, a 22 year old man underwent chiropractic adjustments to correct vertebral subluxation, and subsequently, showed a measurable rise in visual sensitivity.[v]
Additional Research Suggests Chiropractic May Help
Even a degenerative ocular condition like glaucoma, a disorder marked by high pressure within the eyeball, may improve with chiropractic care. One study noted immediate improvements in patients after chiropractic adjustments, with continued enhancement over the following week.[vi]
Another case study involved a patient who had endured vision loss from a facial fracture caused by a fall. After 20 chiropractic visits, the patient enjoyed complete visual recovery.[vii]
Healthy Lifestyles Ward off Vision Loss
Vision loss related to type 2 diabetes is a major cause of difficulty seeing. Fortunately, diabetes may often be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as focusing on proper nutrition, exercise and stress management.
What’s more is that research indicates that other leading forms of vision loss may also be prevented by taking these measures.
Eat Right for Eyesight
A wealth of evidence reveals that nutrition plays a major role in preventing vision problems.
For instance, eating poor-quality carbohydrates, such as junk food, appears to be linked to the development of cataracts.[viii]
The top nutrients supporting vision health include vitamins A, C, E, the B vitamin group, lutein, zeaxanthin; and some minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, selenium, and finally iodine. It’s also believed that omega-3 fatty acids also play their part.
Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Antioxidants
When people with are-related macular degeneration (ARMD) took a supplement containing vitamins and lutein (a pigment found in leafy green vegetables), macular pigment ocular density (MOPD) increased.[ix] MOPD is used to measure macular degeneration and any thickening indicates improvement.
Other successful studies used lutein supplements too, but also added another carotenoid called zeaxanthin. This powerful combinations increased MOPD significantly.[x] Both lutein and zeaxanthin occur naturally in the macular pigment and help protect the retina from oxidative, or free radical damage.
A 2008 study recommends supplementing with carotenoids and antioxidants (free radical-neutralizing compounds), including vitamins C and E along with zinc and copper, to help stave off ARMD and preserve eye health.[xi]
Omega-3s to the Rescue
A ground-breaking ARMD study (TOZAL) added omega-3 fatty acids to the lutein-zeaxanthin-antioxidant mix. The addition of these essential fats helped stabilized ARMD in an astounding 77% of participants. This same group also showed improvement on vision tests.[xii]
Omega-3 also figured prominently in a glaucoma research project in 2007 that used animals. Results proved that supplementation with dietary omega-3s reduced intraocular pressure.[xiii]
Blueberries Help Protect Vision
Another interesting study focused on blueberries as a possible source for eyesight support. Blueberries contain anthocyanins, which are water soluble pigments known as flavonoids. One animal study found that, in as little as four weeks, these useful anthocyanins can be detected in the ocular tissues where they provide vision benefits.[xiv]
Other reports confirm that eating blueberries increases a person’s antioxidant status and delivers a wide range of positive biological effects.[xv]
Parental nutrition in both father and mother is important to brain and vision development in babies before they are even conceived.[xvi]
A raft of studies show that supplementing an infant’s diet with an important essential fatty acid commonly known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acids) improves visual development.[xvii] DHA continues to influence a child’s maturing ocular system well through the third year of life.[xviii]
DHA and another substance, called arachidonic acid (ARA), are found naturally in breast milk. This miracle baby food also contains other undefined components critical to long-term stereoscopic development[xix], which allows both eyes to work together to create one three-dimensional image.
Healthy eyesight in babies requires a steady stream of other nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamins C and E, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, iodine and copper.[xx]
The next time you call or stop in to see us here at West Mesa Wellness, feel free to ask Dr. Greif for additional information about natural approaches to preventing vision loss. And don’t forget: Regular chiropractic visits can help keep you bright-eyed by maintaining nervous system and brain health.
Dr. Greif’s Notes
Common Eye Disorders
In developed countries, among the most common causes of vision loss are macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetes complications.[xxi]
Macular Degeneration: Thinning of the macula (center part of the inner eye’s lining) results in the loss of central vision.
Cataracts: The lens of the eye develops clouding, which blocks light and can lead to vision loss or blindness if untreated.
Glaucoma: Pressure increases within the eyeball, resulting in loss of vision. Thankfully, current treatments are effective at slowing or halting the disease.
Diabetes Complications: Vascular strain caused by diabetes can damage blood vessels in the back of the eye and cause vision loss or dysfunction.
[i] Exp Eye Res 2007;84:229-45.
[ii] Ophthalmologe 2004;101:741-63.
[iii] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999;22:559-64.
[iv] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2005;28.
[v] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1996;19:415-8.
[vi] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2000;23:428.
[vii] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999;22:615.
[viii] Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:1502-8.
[ix] Optometry 2007;78:213-9.
[x] Ophthalmic Phsiol Opt 2007;27:329-35.
[xi] Ophthamology 2008;115:324-333.
[xii] BMC Ophthalmol 2007;7:3.
[xiii] Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2007;48:756-62.
[xiv] J Agric Food Chem 2008;56:705-12.
[xv] J Agric Food Chem 2002;50:7731-7.
[xvi] Nutri Health 2007;19:143-61.
[xvii] Prostaglandins, Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2007;76:189-203.
[xviii] Pediatrics 2003;112:177-83.
[xix] Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:152-9.
[xx] J Nutri Health 2007;19:85-102.
[xxi] Am Fam Physician 2008;77:1431-6.