On first glance, the eyes and liver have about as much in common as milk and champagne. And if you imbibed too much of the latter this holiday season, you may be excused for thinking that bubbly’s only link to eyesight is to induce drunken double vision.
But according to Dr. Marc Grossman, O.D., L.Ac (author, lecturer, and consultant to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point), in traditional Chinese medicine—a discipline that goes back more than 2 millennia—all diseases involving the eye are closely related to the liver.
Blurry vision, Myopia, floaters in the eyes, dry eyes, or color blindness have been linked to liver blood deficiencies. Liver blood deficiency can be caused by scarring of the liver or anemia. Both of these problems prevent the flow of blood through the liver. Blood from the liver is believed to moisten and nourish the eyes.
Bloodshot eyes, pain, and burning sensations in the eyes are linked to liver heat. Liver heat is usually associated with an inflammation in the liver.
Your eyeball turning upwards or moving involuntarily has been linked with internal liver wind. Internal liver wind is normally associated with extreme heat in the liver. This can be caused by extreme high blood pressure or emotional stress.
Strange as it may seem, your liver and your eyes really are linked in many ways.
The head bone’s connected to the neck bone.
Echoing the core principle of holistic medicine, Dr. Grossman declares, “The body does not work as a series of parts in isolation, but as a dynamically integrated living system. Every cell in the body has receptors for neurotransmitters, so in a real sense every cell is a nerve cell.… This biological awareness of every cell is really the foundation of vision.”
The webzine Natural News further explains: “A healthy liver is soft and open. This softness permits the free flow of blood and energy throughout the body directly to the eyes. A healthy liver keeps the blood clean and pure and thus directly improves eyesight.” Thus, when we rejuvenate the liver, we directly promote healthy vision. And the good news is, it’s actually quite easy—though maintaining a healthy liver is about more than just laying off the champers.
Natural News calls diet the “foundation of all rejuvenation regimes” and notes that beta carotene – found in carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, cantaloupe, squash, and cabbage—is a powerful immune booster. As well, leafy greens cleanse the blood and eliminate liver inflammation. Notable liver-regenerating herbs include burdock, taraxacum, barberry, scute root, and nettle. (You can purchase these in the form of easy-to-use liver-cleansing products at many drug- and grocery stores.)
If, like many other people, you are unable to incorporate all the healthy foods you need in your normal everyday diet, you may want to consider an eye health vitamin or supplement. This way you will know without all the figuring and measuring that you are getting the right amounts of the antioxidants that your body needs on a daily basis.
You may know these better as antioxidants. Two strong antioxidants that provide help in removing free-radicals from our liver and eyes are lutein and zeaxanthin. Both of these antioxidants are found naturally in our eyes. They are found in relatively high concentrations in the lens and retina of the eyes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin act to protect our eyes from damaging ultra-violet blue light. As we age it is important to make sure that our bodies have these antioxidants to protect the eye. With proper amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin it is possible to prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration.
Another important antioxidant for both the liver and the eye is alpha-lipoic acid or ALA as it is often referred to. This antioxidant has been shown to help prevent cataracts in the eyes and helps to dissolve toxic substances in the liver.
Traditional Chinese medicine holds that, to function optimally, the eyes require an abundance of yin essences (blood and other bodily fluids that moisten and nourish the organs and tissues). In this view, dry eyes reflect a yin deficiency. Natural News recommends combating dry eyes with such classic herbs as eyebright and goldenseal, which are very effective in clearing inflammation from the liver channel. Chinese herbs such as rehmannia and lycium also promote eye health by refreshing and maintaining the blood, as well as the yin essence that circulates to the eyes.
Dr. Grossman also advocates eschewing carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic beverages, and instead drinking 8 to 10 glasses of purified water a day to hydrate your eyes. Excessive caffeine and alcohol are very hard on the liver. Sclerosis of the liver is just one problem that is associated with excessive alcohol use. Water on the other hand helps to flush impurities out of our bodies.
Exercise Your Eyes
Not only does Dr. Grossman advocate exercising for 30 minutes a day to maintain overall health and reduce stress, but he also notes that “eye exercises can help bring energy and blood to the eyes, thereby helping drain away toxins or congestion.”
Whether the exercises can drain off toxins or allow blood to flow more freely is still being researched. We do know that exercise is one way to increase your visual acuity. This is one of the reasons that we developed the Rebuild Your Vision Program. Many of the vision problems that in the past were treated with corrective lenses or surgery can be repaired with simple eye exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own home.