An indicator of poor health-failing eyesight.
This problem is often passed down through generations, like "lazy-eye" (amblyopia). To shed some light on treating and preventing eye problems requires looking at nutrition and other factors that affect our eyes.
The eye is a good barometer of your general health. Why?
Tiny capillaries feeding eye tissues can become clogged by large sugar molecules, especially if you have diabetes. Layers of harmful blood fats may also form clots inside the eye's tiny blood vessels.
The most common cause of eye trouble is simply a lack of proper nutrition.
For example, without enough vitamin C the lens of the eye tends to crystallize over time. After losing flexibility the lens has difficulty focusing on objects, especially at close distances.
Sometimes eye problems occur when poor diet and normal exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet rays) combine. When sufficient nutrients exist in the diet, light is a boon to health. Similarly, sun tanning and skin cancer problems tend to occur only when the skin receives a low supply of healthy nutrients.
Another problem occurs when anti-oxidants form as a normal body process because of excessive stress, radiation or your body's toxic condition. Lack of anti-oxidants to control free radicals can cause damage to cell walls, breaking them down to allow foreign particles to enter in or nutrients to leak out. This process kills or maims the cell.
Many people notice that after a debilitating illness their eyes are worse. This only makes sense when we realize that if we have eaten poorly during an illness, our bodies use their reserves of nutrients to heal themselves. This nutritional deficiency often occurs after an illness and restricts incoming nutrients from reaching the eyes, and the eyes suffer. Not only has the deficiency damaged eye tissues, but the body has used up its nutritional reserves from the liver and other organs.
Many people do not connect their lifestyles and the lack of proper nutrition with their health problems. But you can reverse many eye problems, in some cases blindness itself, by simply improving your diet.
Let's Focus on the Eyes
Nutrition, Herbs and Exercise For Better, Eyesight
Your eyes are connected to all parts of your body through your nerves, blood and lymphs.
Hence, any health program you choose that includes exercise, good food, proper rest and positive thoughts will have a positive influence on your eyes.
Like the rest of your body, the muscles in your eyes need exercise.
One exercise for eye muscles is rolling the eyes. Here is another method: Start by looking up to the right and then diagonally down to the left. Repeat several times, and then switch to the other side by looking up to the left and then down to the right. Next move your eyes to the extreme left, then up and down in that position. Do the same on the right side. Tracing lazy eights (an infinity sign or 8 tipped on its side: -) with your eyes is another beneficial exercise.
The eyes also benefit from good general nutrition.
The idea that carrots are good for your eyes stems from the fact that carrots are high in beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A.
Vitamin A is probably the single most important vitamin for your eyes. Many eye disorders are treated by high doses of this vitamin (50,000 to 100,000 IU per day for no more than two or three weeks).
Some eye problems are the result of free radical damage, including macular degeneration and cataracts. Therefore, antioxidants such as zinc, vitamin C and vitamin E with Selenium may help to preserve your eyesight as well as your circulatory and immune systems. Usually herbs that assist your eyes also aid circulation, nerves and other organs like the kidneys and liver, which have a strong energetic connection with the eyes.
The following herbs have proven themselves helpful for eye problems.
EW is the most popular herbal formula for eye problems.
This combination contains golden seal root, bayberry bark ant eyebright. All three of these herbs have astringent qualities, helping tone and strengthen the eyes.
Goldenseal contains bitter, astringing alkaloids that remove redness and help fight infection. This herb has been used alone to treat pink eye. A note of caution: Goldenseal does lower blood sugar.
Eyebright is an herb with a long tradition of use for eye problems. The flowers look like eyes. Eyebright has been used alone to treat cataracts, conjunctivitis, eye inflammation, eye strain, styes, glaucoma and pink eye.
Less well known is the fact that eyebright has also- been used for congestion, earaches, sinus problems, sneezing and hoarseness. Thus, eyebright is an eye, ear, nose and throat remedy.
Bayberry is an astringent that contracts swollen tissue, helping to reduce eye inflammation and redness.
This combination of herbs has been used for eye problems like cataracts, conjunctivitis, blood shot eyes, glaucoma ' pink eye and styes. The famous herbalist Dr. John Christopher used this formula with the addition of capsicum to restore failing eyesight.
Many people take this formula internally, but this method is less effective than using EW as an eyewash.
As the trade name EW suggests, it was originally designed to be used as an EyeWash. Maximum benefits are obtained when EW is used in this manner. (See directions for making an eyewash)
After using this formula many people report that mucus starts oozing from their eyes. This is a sign that the eyes are cleansing and healing. Please be aware of this and continue this process until the mucus flow stops.
Bilberry, another popular herb used for eye care, is a small shrub belonging to the heath family and a close relative of the cranberry, blueberry and huckleberry. Native to northern Europe and Asia, the berries have been eaten fresh or made into jams and jellies.
The berries contain substances called anthocyanins, which have been implicated in P-vitamin activity. Anthocyanins are widely distributed in the plant kingdom, and the P-vitamin effect is even more pronounced in other herbs, especially citrus fi-uits. This effect involves strengthening the tiny blood capillaries in peripheral circulation and reducing the permeability of the capillary membranes.
Another benefit of anthocyanocides was discovered in laboratory studies where human subjects received oral doses of bilberry and experienced improved night vision. The effect appeared four hours after the administration of bilberry and lasted for 24 hours. Patients who were sensitive to light also improved with oral doses of bilberry.
Bilberry has also been shown to reduce eye strain caused by air pollution and helps remove the chemicals from the eyes that cause cataracts.
This occurs because anti-oxidants preserve not only the eyes, but all cells from the effects of aging.
Many herbalists are unaware that bilberry has been used for diarrhea and indigestion in children; and anemia, diabetes, diarrhea, kidney stones, vomiting and water retention in adults. A close cousin of bilberry, the blueberry, is also useful for treating eye diseases, such as macular degeneration.
Perfect Eyes (a combination)
Perfect Eyes is formulated to provide your eyes with the antioxidant and nutritional support they need to keep your eyes as healthy as they can be. Perfect Eyes replaces Eyebright Plus which contains bilberry, eyebright and 3 mg per capsule of lutein.
Perfect Eyes contains these same ingredients plus a few more eye-benefiting nutrients, including N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC).
Aging bodies can easily convert NAC into the eye-protecting antioxidant glutathione, which makes NAC supplementation an important element in protecting the eye from harmful free radical damage.
Perfect Eyes also contains taurine (an amino acid that protects proteins in the eye lens), zinc gluconate and selenium (powerful antioxidants that are particularly beneficial to older individuals), and quercetin and hesperidin (two bioflavonoids that act as antioxidants to protect against toxic damage to the eye).
Treating Special Eye Problems
The role nutrition and other factors play in the most common eye disorders
Astigmatism can be minimized and largely prevented by reducing stress if the problem is not genetic.
Astigmatism may originate from regular but abnormal pressure on the cornea and lens by the muscles attached to the eye or to the lens from inside the eye. Eyestrain, poor posture and reading in poor light can contribute to this.
To reduce eye strain, use the Bates method of palming to rest your eyes. Every hour stop for a minute, close your eyes, cover them with the palms of your hands and take a few deep breaths. Open your eyes, roll them from side to side, look far, look near and keep changing your focusing distance.
Bloodshot Eyes have been treated successfully by various herbal teas used as an eyewashes.
Goldenseal contains alkaloids (once the principle active ingredient in an overthe-counter eye drop product) and has worked well for this problem.
Red raspberry, chickweed or chamomile tea may also be used.
Blurred Vision has been helped by large doses of vitamin A (25,000 to 50,000 IU) and potassium (100 mg) each day. EW combination has been used as an eyewash for this condition.
Cataracts are caused by free radical damage to the lens of the eye, making the eye cloudy or opaque.
To prevent and help reverse cataracts, anti-oxidant nutrients have been used, including zinc, Vitamin E with selenium, vitamin C.
In addition, Vitamin A, L-Lysine, manganese, selenium, panthenic acid (135), Thiamin (Bl) and Riboflavin (132) may help.
Many people have reported dissolving their own cataracts using the EW eyewash (see formula above).
Bilberry is another herb used to treat this disorder.
Note from Four Winds Nutrition
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) is an inflammation of the lining of the eyelid caused by infection or other irritation. Goldenseal, chamomile, chickweed or EW have proven helpful as an eyewash for this condition.
These teas may be applied with an eyewash cup or as a compress.
For a compress, soak a piece of sterile cotton in the tea and place the cotton over the closed eyes. Large doses of vitaminA (up to 100,000 IU per day for a short period) have been commonly used by natural healers.
Vitamin A has also helped when applied externally (around, not in the eye). In addition, Chinese formula IFC has been helpful in all inflammatory conditions.
Dry Eyes or Dry Tear Ducts may signal a lack of vitamin A or other essential fatty acids.
Black currant oil, evening primrose oil and/or vitamin A would be good supplements to try. Vitamin C, vitamin B6 and zinc may also help. Dry eyes may call for the use of Chinese formula Blood Build tcm .
Floaters are bits of debris that you can see floating in the fluid inside the eye.
They are not serious unless a large number of them exist. In her publication Nature's Treasure Chest Joan Vandergriff indicates floaters are a sign of hypoglycemia. So you may want to consider the possibility of blood sugar problems. In the January/ February 1990 issue of the "Nature's Field" newsletter, one reader wrote in a letter to the editor that an increase of foods rich in sulfur, fasting, carrot and spinach juice may dissolve floaters .
Glaucoma is a serious eye disease characterized by an increase in the pressure in the fluid inside the eye. Glaucoma can cause the eyeball to harden, damaging the retina and the optic nerve, which can lead to blindness. So consult a doctor before embarking on any self-treatment.
Large doses of vitamin C (up to 10,000 mg) may help. B-Complex vitamins, vitamin A, germanium, eyebright and EW eyewash have also been used. Avoid licorice root and niacin if you have glaucoma.
A good general combination to use is MegaChel, which contains most of these elements.
Itchy Eyes could be a sign of a lack of B-complex vitamins, especially riboflavin (B2). Itchy eyes can also be caused by sinus irritation, in which case Sinus Support might help.
Macular degeneration is progressive visual loss due to degeneration of the macula, a yellow spot in the center of the retina and the area of the most sharp vision.
This disease occurs when circulation to the eye is restricted, or the blood vessels weaken and bleed in the center of the retina. Consequently, cells may die and cause blind spots at the center of vision. This situation may encourage new blood vessels to grow, distorting the concave roundness of the retina. What you see as a straight line may be curved at these distorted points.
This condition is usually age-related and shows a lack of anti-oxidants and minerals in the blood.
To prevent and treat this condition, avoid sources of free radicals, such as rancid food. Add legumes (high in protein), yellow vegetables, and such berries as cherries, blackberries and blueberrieg.
Supplement your diet with vitamin C three times a day, vitamin E with Selenium and zinc (45 mg a day). In addition to these supplements take ginkgo biloba extract three times a day. Ginkgo biloba extract displays the ability to prevent damage from free radicals to the retina and macula.
Diabetics tend to have more eye problems and should control sugar intake, in addition to increasing chromium and anti-oxidants. Take vitamins A, B, C, E and minerals selenium, germanium and zinc. Herbs that may help include astragalus, reishi mushroom, ginkgo biloba, bilberry and adaptogens like shizandra, suma and ginseng, including Siberian. Adding HCl like PDA and food enzymes will help your body to absorb these elements.
Nearsightedness (Myopia) and Farsightedness (Hyperopea) are associated with lack of vitamin D in childhood and low tissue levels of chromium. Excessive sugar and denatured (overcooked) protein intake are also implicated. Severe diarrhea, dehydration or diabetes can also cause myopia. In addition, poor lighting has been associated with this eye problem.
Nutrients that improve glucose metabolism help treat myopia.
For example, vitamin B6 and chromium help the ciliary muscle change the shape of the lens, which helps you focus better.
Another approach to treating this condition includes choosing foods with more vitamin A, B complex, vitamin E, large amounts of vitamin C and general mineral supplements, especially trace minerals like chromium. Also use a vitamin D supplement to help calcium utilization.
Treatment for hyperopea is similar to the treatment for myopia but include more vitamin B 12 in your diet.
Night Blindness was experienced during World War II by British pilots, who used Bilberry to aid their night vision. Many herbalists specifically recommend bilberry for night blindness. Vitamin A may also be helpful.
Photophobia is a condition you may have if your eyes are extremely sensitive to light.
Lack of vitamin A is possibly the cause. You might also notice your eyes becoming sensitive to light when you are severely fatigued. This is because adrenal exhaustion can cause your pupils to dilate wide open. So you might want to try building up the adrenals with licorice, Eleuthero (Ginseng) or other adaptogens.
Spots, officially called scotoma, may signal a blind spot in your visual field indicating trouble with the retina. "Seeing spots" may be helped with large doses of vitamin A.
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Disclaimer: We do not directly dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of herbs or supplements as a form of treatment for illness. The information found on this Web Site is for educational purposes only and to empower people with knowledge to take care of their own health. We disclaim any liability if the reader uses or prescribes any remedies, natural or otherwise, for him/herself or another. Always consult a licensed health professional should a need be indicated.