Refractive error (myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism) is a very common problem worldwide. Fortunately, it is very easily treated with glasses and contact lenses. The inconvenience of these lenses has led to the increasing popularity of laser refractive -surgery, which has been very successful in treating most forms of refractive error. However, not everyone is comfortable with wearing glasses or contact lenses or having surgery. So if you can't tolerate lenses and are unwilling to undergo surgery, do you have any other alteratives to deal with refractive error and astigmatism?
(Image adapted from the internet)
Not everyone can tolerate wearing spectacles or contact lenses. There may be a variety of reasons for this, including eczema around the face and allergy to contact lens solutions.
So if you can't tolerate lenses and are unwilling to undergo surgery, are there any alteratives to deal with refractive error and astigmatism?
Yes there are!
If you look hard enough, there will always be something that is suited for your eyes and your vision comfort. There are different natural healing techniques that you can try. These include simple eye exercises to acupuncture to herbal remedies. Most of these help by alleviating eye strain and reducing visual symptoms of these refractive errors. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that these remedies can actually reduce the amount of refractive error or astigmatism that you have.
So what are the 7 natural therapies that may help to relieve your symptoms of astigmatism and refractive error?
1. HEALTHY DIET AND LIFESTYLE
This sounds very obvious, but has to be reinforced at the risk of sounding repetitive. A healthy diet and lifestyle ensures a healthy body, which in turn is vital in maintaining your vision and eye health. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, especially those rich with antioxidants.
Fruits with high antioxidant content include Acai berries, chinese wolfberries (goji berries), bilberries, red grapes, plums, cherries, melons and citrus fruits.
(Images adapted from the internet)
The powerful antioxidant properties of the acai and wolfberry have only recently been discovered. However, they are not the miracle panacea or all diseases that some dubiously claim them to be.
Vegetables with high antioxidant content include dark leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard), tomatoes, orange peppers, carrots and celery.
Make sure you achieve your daily recommended vitamin and mineral intake. Drink plenty of water, filtered or purified if possible. Avoid cigarette smoke and fumes. The healthier your general health, the better your eyes will be able to function and cope with any visual problems from the astigmatism and refractive error.
2. RELAXATION AND REST
It is amazing how many will ignore your eyes when they tell you that they are tired and fatigued. When your eyes are tired, they can feel more dry and irritable. In addition, you may also experience frontal headaches. Your concentration falls and you become less effective and efficient at what you do. Resting and relaxing the eye muscles may help to relieve the stress and strain in your eyes. This is particularly beneficial for those who have refractive error or astigmatism that has not been corrected with glasses or lenses.
Eye relaxation techniques include blinking, palming, compress and massage.
Eye exercises may help to relax the muscles around the eye and reduce eye strain. Some believe that imbalances in the tension of eye muscles pulling on the eyeball and in focusing light result in tiredness and strain in the eyes. Exercises may help to correct this imbalance, particularly by relaxing the eye muscles that have gone into spasm. Relaxation of these tense and overworked muscles can help to relieve the symptoms of eye fatigue from uncorrected astigmatism and refractive error.
Eye exercise techniques include the eye focusing exercise, swinging exercise and eye rolling exercise.
4. EYE ACUPRESSURE
Eye acupressure involves massaging the major acupressure points that are beneficial to the eye. This is believed to correct any deficiencies in the nourishment of the eye. This also relaxes the eye and facial muscles, and relieves any eye strain and blurring of the vision from fatigue.
In children, stress and anxiety may aggravate and worsen symptoms of uncorrected refractive error. Acupressure can reduce the severity of the ailment by promoting relaxation and relieving anxiety.
Acupressure for the eye is designed to relieve or unblock any disruptions to chi flow to the eye. By correcting these deficiencies, it is hoped that balance within the eye environment will be restored. The number and frequency of treatments required will depend on the severity of imbalance of the meridia related to the eye.
5. HERBAL REMEDIES
Some herbs and concoctions may be able to help reduce the effects of refractive error. Some believe that these herbs help to improve the overall general health, with a corresponding improvement in eye health. Others believe that there may be a therapeutic effect from natural biochemicals, including antioxidants, contained within the herbs themselves.
Beneficial herbs include bilberry, curcumin, gentian root, grapeseed extract, ginkgo biloba, and pine bark extract (pycnogenol). For the best results and outcomes from the mixing and preparations of these herbs, it is best to visit a qualified herbalist for a consultation.
Rose water has also been touted by some complementary therapists as having a positive effect on relieving symptoms of refractive error in tired eyes. It may provide a lubricating and soothing effect to the eye, although no clinical evidence has been found to suggest that rose water is better compared to the more conventional lubricating eye drops. As with anything to do with the eyes, please take the necessary precautions (handwashing and storage in clean conditions) to prevent infection.
6. HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES
Some homeopathic remedies may be able to alleviate the symptoms of refractive error and astigmatism. These include:
Lilium tigrinum: Useful in astigmatism. A person needing ulium tigrinum often experiences pain extending to the back of the head and blurry vision. It may help to restore power to the weak ciliary muscle.
Physostigma: This is beneficial for those who are experiencing face and eye spasms, and pain over the eye sockets especially when lifting the eyelids. A person requiring physostigma may feel spinal irritation and generalized muscle tension.
Ruta graveolens: Beneficial for those in whom the vision feels dimmed. A person requiring ruta graveolens often feels weak and tired, and has eyes that burn and feel hot.
Apis mellifica: Helpful for those with incorrectly aligned eyes or stiffness. A person requiring apis mellifica often experiences a heavy sensation at the back of the head and vertigo when sneezing.
7. TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)
In TCM, most eye diseases are due to deficiencies in the liver, spleen, and stomach meridia. Traditional herbal remedies are combined with acupuncture to address these imbalances. The formulations of herbs and chi correction points depend upon the cause of the imbalance. It is important to consult a certified TCM practitioner before embarking on a course of TCM treatments.
Acupuncture points for the eye include: Bladder 1, Bladder 2, Gallbladder 1, Gall Bladder 37, Stomach 1, Stomach 36, Liver 4, Kidney 3, Spleen 6, Triple Warmer 6 and Conception Vessel 4.
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