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Spots in the Eye

What can I do about the spots before my eyes?

Question

I had a fall some years ago (from a wall after a rather wild party) and since then have had several black spots floating sporadically in my right eye. One moves around but returns to the middle of the eye and can be distracting when I drive. Is there anything I can do to reduce or eliminate them?

Answer

The eye is a fascinating organ; its sophisticated structure is a marvel of nature and the inspiration for the modern camera. Not surprisingly, it's incredibly sensitive and a trauma such as your fill could easily cause these spots. Let me explain about the structure of the eye. The retina is the most important and complex part. As light falls on it, this photo-energy is converted into electrical energy, which is picked up by the sensitive cells in the retina and transmitted via the main optic nerve (the 'cable' that carries the information) to the visual centre of the brain.

An efficient blood supply is essential for the retina, and indeed the whole mechanism of the eye. The retinal layer of nerve cells is sandwiched between two layers of blood supply: the choroid layer, which is full of capillaries and lymphatic blood vessels, and the capillaries of the central after that lie on the surface of the retina. The main source for the blood supply to the central artery comes from the vertebral arteries of the neck via branches of the vertebro-basilar circulatory network.

The slightest fluctuation in blood supply can cause visual impairment. Temporary spots are probably due to a short-term dip in blood supply to the retina. When the supply is normal, they disappear. Anaemia or low blood pressure can trigger such floaters, as may donating blood. Permanent floaters mainly occur because of small particles (tiny clots of blood or detached tissue) in the liquid that fills the inner chamber of the eye bathing the retinal surface.

Because the vertebral arteries carry the main blood supply to the retina, any disalignment of the vertebra, due to trauma, can cause impaired vision by reducing the flow of blood. Many people who have head injuries or whiplash experience poor vision, or partial loss. Manipulating the neck through therapies such as osteopathy or chiropractic can improve visual impairments caused by trauma. Patients with poor vision linked to chronic fatigue also report sudden brightness and clarity of vision after treatment.

The main line of treatment for temporary floaters is to keep the eye and its muscles well supplied with blood. To improve microcirculation, you must be in good health generally, so good nutrition, regular exercise, stress management and neck massage help.

Here are my suggestions:

    Diet

  • Avoid alcohol, coffee and excess salt, because they constrict blood vessels; alcohol also consumes surplus oxygen from the blood, so making the vision blurred. Also avoid yeast products as these cause fatigue due to gut fermentation which produces alcohol.
  • Drink lots of water: at least eight large glasses of still water daily between meals. Dehydration often affects vision; in fact, extreme dehydration can cause floaters. Also drink freshly juiced carrots and apples with a little fresh root ginger to boost energy.
  • Supplement

  • Take Ginkgo Biloba 2000: one daily for a month.
  • Massage

  • Massage the jaw on both sides and also the muscles of the neck going down to the shoulders. First massage the sides of the neck using a little oil (sweet almond, for instance). With your thumb and fingertips, massage the back of the head (occiput), especially an inch above the hairline where the tendons of the neck muscles are attached. They may be sore to the touch. When the neck muscles are related, massage the shoulders. Do this yourself when you have a shower, or ask a partner to do it once a week for two months. (To find more about massage for couples, see Health Notes on page 63.)
  • Yoga

  • Therapeutic Iyengar yoga helps blood flow through the vertebral artery by realigning the cervical spine, the part that is in the neck. The following postures are particularly helpful: cobra swing, spinal twist and semi-bridge. These postures are explained in Therapeutic Yoga, the book I co-wrote with Jiwan Brar.
  • Eye Exercises

  • Thousands of years ago, yoga practitioners developed specific exercises, which are very helpful for improving and maintaining good vision. They have been modified in recent, times, in, for example, Bates exercises - which you can find in W. H. Bates's book "Better Eyesight With out Glasses", Hind Pocket Books.
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