With the solar eclipse only about a week away — mark your calendar for August 21! — eye health has become a major topic of conversation. When you listen to the news, you constantly hear about the dangers of looking directly into the sun and the importance of viewing the solar eclipse through a pair of specialized glasses. As long as you follow these guidelines, you can enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a total solar eclipse without causing long-term (or even permanent) damage to your eyes.
The truth is, it is important to think about the health of your eyes more regularly — not just around rare events like the upcoming solar eclipse. There are lots of eye problems that can develop over a person’s lifetime, ranging from chronic blurry vision to serious diseases like glaucoma, and it is important to be aware of prevention and treatment methods.
You might be surprised to learn that chiropractic care has the potential to maintain and even improve the health of your eyes. Over the last few decades, multiple scientific studies have shown that eye health is closely associated with spinal alignment, so a regular chiropractic adjustment can help you maintain the long-term health of your eyes and address eye problems that you already have. Read on to find out more about the connection between spinal alignment and eye health.
Spinal Alignment and Blood Flow to the Eyes
Like all of your organs, your eyes rely on the circulatory system to function properly. Blood flow to the eyes provides the rod cells and cone cells with the oxygen and nutrients that are necessary to support vision. The vertebral arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the eyes. However, when the spine is out of alignment, the five spinal bones below the skull (collectively known as the cervical vertebrae) can constrict the vertebral arteries, which can prevent blood flow to the eyes. Depending on the degree of the arterial constrictions, some of the possible health consequences include:
- Blurred vision
- Headaches / migraines due to vision trouble
The Connection Between Blindness and Idiopathic Scoliosis
In 1986, researchers in Italy conducted a study on 46 children who had been blind since birth or early infancy. They found that a significant proportion of the children (59 percent) exhibited “structural deviations of the spine,” including multiple short curves that are commonly associated with idiopathic scoliosis. Although there is no evidence that chiropractic are can actually cure childhood blindness, this research serves as evidence of the connection spinal alignment and the ability of the eyes to function properly.
How Posture Can Affect Eye Movements
More recently, in 2015, researchers interested in oculomotor control conducted a study with the goal of understanding the relationship between posture and eye movements. For this study, they recruited 36 healthy test subjects and conducted an experiment in which each test subject’s posture was altered using orthotic shoe inserts. By providing either medial or lateral arch support, the shoe inserts changed the alignment of the test subject’s spine. Then, the researchers used cutting-edge vision analysis technology to evaluate how the postural changes impacted the test subject’s vision. They concluded that postural changes can play a crucial role in vergence eye movements. Vergence eye movements are the simultaneous movements of the eyes in opposite directions, and they provide the foundation for binocular vision. From this study, one can conclude suggests that proper posture and spinal alignment play an important role in healthy vision.
The Potential for Chiropractic Care to Improve Glaucoma Symptoms
An intriguing case study from 2000 suggests that spinal manipulation can even improve the symptoms of individuals with severe glaucoma. In this case study, a 25-year-old female patient with congenital glaucoma was suffering from back pain, neck pain, and regular migraines, so she sought chiropractic treatment. At the time that treatment was initiated, the patient had completely lost vision in her left eye, and she had also lost most of the vision in her right eye. However, after only one chiropractic treatment, there was a significant improvement in the vision in her right eye. After four chiropractic sessions, the change was even more significant. In the end, the patient’s vision level in her right eye went from about 2% of normal to about 20% of normal — not a miracle cure, but a significant improvement nonetheless. Of course, because this case study only includes data from a single patient, the authors were unable to draw any concrete conclusions about the efficacy of spinal manipulation as a management strategy for glaucoma. Nevertheless, it may be worth it for glaucoma patients to give chiropractic care a try.
Just like you, the chiropractors at Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness are looking forward to the total solar eclipse — and we are just as passionate about making sure that you maintain your eye health throughout your life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!