wear glasses or contact lenses?
You may not realize it, but your eyes are the focus of one of the most stubborn tussles going between doctoring and holism. Most ophthalmologists (eye specialists) insist that nothing can be done to change near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism unless you're willing to undergo laser surgery.
Vision educators and other holistic types beg to differ. They say that seeing problems may be related to poor nutrition, poor circulation, misuse of the eyes and emotional and psychological factors.
I've long rejected the hypothesis that we're powerless to change how we see. If that were true, why would my teacher and her piano inevitably jump into clearer focus every week at my singing lesson? Clearly, my eyes are grooving on something we're doing. To test the allopathic hypothesis even further, I visit an acupuncturist who claims to improve vision problems within one session.
A long trek to Bayview and Steeles brings me to traditional Chinese medical doctor Hong Chen's office. We start by checking my current level of vision using an eye chart. Then she inserts acupuncture needles into the back of my neck, my hands and, most ominously, around my eyes. I could swear one contacts my skull. Each needle is twisted between her fingers several times during the 20 minutes they're in. The one above the inside corner of my left eye is so painful, I resort to the word "Fuck!" when she touches it.
A new eye test reveals no change; if anything, I'm seeing worse, and I've just about given up when Dr. Chen removes the needles to give me a massage. Suddenly, I hear a cracking noise in the back of my head and look up to realize I can now clearly see the first three rows of the eye chart without my glasses!
Overall, my vision has improved by one line on the chart. A day later, I can still feel my eyes sliding into better functioning in an on-and-off kind of way. It'll take at least 5 sessions, though -- at $70 a pop -- to create lasting improvement, she says.
A gentler holistic approach involves shifting to a healthy diet and regular use of ocular exercises, perhaps under a vision educator's watchful eye. This approach, I can attest, needs commitment and dedication.
If you're tired of your glasses and not willing to invest in a holistic approach, laser surgery is an option. It's pricey, costing about $1,900 to $2,400 per eye, and there are some risks, including infection, severe dry eye syndrome and, in a few unfortunate cases, blindness. You'll find unbiased info at http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/lasik/default.htm.
"The ophthalmological world doesn't think there's anything a person can do that will have a negative or positive impact on their vision (besides glasses and laser surgery). A lot of holistic medicine people will say they can cure this, but the medical profession doesn't really believe it."
HAROLD STEIN, ophthalmologist
"All indications suggest that laser surgery is safe. However, it's very early in this technology, and in five, 10 or 15 years we may see some side effects. Homeopathic arnica helps surgical wounds heal. The nutrient lutein and the herb bilberry (250 to 500 mg of each per day) are recommended both in the context of eye surgery and for general eye health."
RICHARD DODD, naturopathic doctor
"Laser eye surgery may not treat the underlying problem causing near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism. Near-sightedness is a manifestation of disharmony of the person. As to the idea that individuals cannot change their own vision, I disagree. The individual has all the power to change their eye pathology."
EDWARD KONDROT, Phoenix ophthalmologist, author of Healing The Eye The Natural Way
"We have seen dramatic improvement when people take responsibility for the way they see the world, increase circulation through improved health and nutrition and change the way they use their eyes."
ELIZABETH ABRAHAM , founder Vision Education Centre