Ophthalmology – eyes are very precious
Preamble - issuing of new chapters to My book Ecological Medicine
Date of Issue - October 2020
This page is a copy of the new updated Chapter 40, Ophthalmology, from My book Ecological Medicine - The Antidote to Big Pharma and Fast Foods.
Ecological Medicine has 79 chapters and 5 appendices. It is an ongoing project and as I extend my knowledge, I will add new ideas all the time by updating already existing chapters.
So that people who have already bought Ecological Medicine do not feel as if they have an out of date copy, I will make these updated chapters available free online as they are written. Also, at regular intervals, Ecological Medicine will be reprinted and these reprints will incorporate all the chapter updates that have occurred since the last print.
You can purchase the whole book from these links
Download of revised Chapter 40 Ophthalmology Ecological Medicine
You can download this new chapter here:
Full Text of revised Chapter 40 Ophthalmology Ecological Medicine
– eyes are so very precious
– get the dose of vitamin C right and prevent much
Thank you, Dr Jose Mendonca, brilliant maxillofacial surgeon, for your ideas and insights
The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye. Charlotte Brontë, 21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855, in Jane Eyre
There seems to be a general acceptance that we will lose sight with age and little can be done to prevent this. Not so! When sight is the prize, motivation and determination improve. Sight is so precious and prevention all important.
All eyes – those of mammals and insects – evolved in full-spectrum sunshine. We have receptors in the retina for all wave-lengths, essential not just for vision but also for our circadian rhythms. Sunglasses are not good for the eyes. A pin-hole pupil protects the lens from light damage. Bright light is also essential for the eye to exercise the muscles of the iris and ciliary body. Further protection is afforded by vitamin C; be aware that most eye damage is driven by sugar. So, when indoors, use bright full-spectrum light – ideally window light, or employ full-spectrum and incandescent light bulbs. Artificial LED, halogen, blue light etc are no replacement.
Ensure good antioxidant status with vitamin See (whoops - I mean vitamin C!). The business of sight requires huge amounts of energy. The job of the retina is to convert the stimulus of a photon landing on it into an electrical signal that the brain can work with. The brain weighs 2% of body weight but consumes 20% of all the energy generated. The retina, weight for weight, demands energy at a rate 10 times higher than the brain. No system can generate energy perfectly without some collateral damage. These damaging units are free radicals. For the chemist, free radicals have an unpaired electron – this makes them very sticky and in sticking they denature and cause damage leading to degeneration. Indeed, this is part of the mechanism that results in the three major eye diseases of cataract, glaucoma and macular degeneration. To mop up these free radicals we need an excellent antioxidant system (see Chapter 36 for how to quench the inflammatory fire with good doses of antioxidant).
Why spectacles can be the problem
There is a general acceptance that, especially with ageing, reading glasses become essential. However, it is biologically plausible, and there is excellent and growing evidence to support this, that glasses cause macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. How so?
We see because light is focused on the retina. However, it is not just the lens of the eye which achieves such; the whole of the eye is involved. We need to see at a distance and close to. To achieve this, the lens is constantly changing shape, as is the whole structure of the eye. The muscles of the eye change the shape of the eye from a sphere to an egg and this pulls the retina forward for distance vison or back for close vision. Think about it – the ciliary muscles contract to focus on near objects; not only does this allow the lens to fatten, but its anchor is in the sclera, the tough but flexible shell of the eye, so this too will pull the eye into an egg shape so the retina falls back.
The eye needs constant exercise and practice to stay in focus. Essentially the shape of the eye is the coarse tuning and may take days to adjust whilst the lens is the fine tuning and can bring focus in seconds. For the connective tissue of the eye to remain elastic to allow these changes you need lots of vitamin C.
The problem with spectacles is they make the eyes lazy – the muscles of the eye no longer have to work hard to focus the lens and keep the eyeball in shape. The muscles weaken through lack of exercise, so the eyeball and lens become stiff and out of shape. It is the old story – use it or lose it. Spectacles, like drugs, are addictive and make for short-term gain, long-term pain. Why do we do it? Follow the money.
This is the commonest problem, which manifests typically in the late 40s with difficulty reading. I suspect this is largely due to the lens stiffening owing to vitamin C deficiency. The lens needs to be elastic so it can ‘fatten’ to focus on things close to. If this elasticity is lost, the focal point is behind the retina. The same focusing problem arises as the ciliary muscles weaken with the lens not fattening and, guess what, lack of eye exercise renders them weaker. The eye elongates and becomes egg-shaped to compensate.
Being short-sighted or ‘myopic’
The myopic eye is egg-shaped, so the focal point is in front of the retina. The myopic eye can see objects close to, but distance vison is poor. Spectacles to correct distance vision perpetuate the egg shape. The problems of an egg-shaped eyeball include:
- The vitreous membrane no longer fits snuggly at the back of the eye – it starts to peel off and you see floaters. And with this peeling off you can get retinal detachment!
- The blood vessels to the back of the eye may be stretched, so they are more vulnerable
to damage from sugar and free radicals, with potential for bleeds and macular degeneration.
- The quality of the vitreous humour changes so oxygen can diffuse more readily – the back of the eye is oxygen rich, the lens is oxygen poor, but too much oxygen to the lens drives cataracts. Vitamin C further mops up the free radicals generated by oxygen.
- The flow of aqueous humour from behind the lens to in front is blocked and this drives glaucoma.
How to keep the eyeball in shape
To keep your eyeballs in shape:
- Take vitamin C to bowel tolerance to keep all the tissues of the eye elastic.
- Exercise your eyes. If you are doing close work, every so often look up and focus on something in the distance before returning to close work. A simple exercise is to hold one finger close to your nose and one at arm’s length – focus on one then t’other. As you do so you will see two copies of the other.
- Choose a hobby that involves looking at and focusing on things in the distance – such
as ball games or bird-watching. When I go walking, I am glued to the sight of my terrier Nancy hunting in the distance!
- Blink often – occasionally screw your eyes up tight to massage and stretch the eyeball.
- Always work in bright, full-spectrum light.
What to do if you already use glasses
To re-strengthen your eyes you can do the following:
- Wear a pair of glasses which are half a dioptre too weak. Initially things will be slightly out of focus.
- Do all the above exercises wearing these weaker glasses and take vitamin C. After a few weeks, possibly months, you will have sharp vision.
- Repeat the process with a weaker pair.
- Do the above exercises to keep your eyes in shape.
If you apply this process to children, then change their glasses by a quarter of a dioptre at a time – the child may not want to see for other reasons (such as a really boring teacher) and not be so motivated to focus on distal objects. Play ball games, take them orienteering. I no longer need glasses for reading. Dr Jose Mendonca, diagnosed with myopia and pre- scribed spectacles since the age of 11, now flies a plane and reads with minimal corrective lenses and has been improving since 2018.
Symptoms of acute eye problems
- Any loss of vision requires urgent assess- ment by a professional
- Any major inflammation or pain or eye injury needs the same
- Mild inflammations, such as conjuncti- vitis, can be effectively treated by iodine oil – see Chapter 32.
- Be incentivised by any eye symptom to re-read this section!
Table 40.1: What causes eye problems and how to stop the destructive process*
*Note from Craig: I wear spectacles for both long vision and short vision, and having just read this section, am now motivated to try out these easy solutions. I do the PK diet and vitamin C interventions but will need to work on the ‘exercises’ and ‘eye-life-style’ interventions. The fact that changing eyeball shape has an effect on vision was determined (not first) by my mathematical hero, Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), in his famous ‘bodkin in the eyeball’ experiment. Newton inserted a bodkin (a long, flat needle) behind his eye and observed what effect the distortion of his eyeball shape had on his vision. More than this, he stimulated his retina in many spots and noted a ‘phosphene’ or glowing spot that resulted from the pressure. From this he was able to ‘map’ his own retina against where he saw the spots. This map conformed to the map on the back of a rabbit’s retina that he had made by shining light from a window, through a pinhole, into the rabbit’s eye that had an opening cut away from the sclera allowing him to see into the rabbit’s eye. Thus, Newton showed how the rays of light enter our eye by an optical system now called the camera design and how the retina represents the outside world but with inversion (up is down and left is right). This self-experiment is not recommended – it took a long while before Newton’s eyesight returned to normal and he was lucky not to have blinded himself in pursuit of knowledge. (It is not recommended for rabbits either!)
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