I can’t tell you how many times I get asked why we have an eye chart in our examination room at the office. One reason is patients with certain headache symptoms may actually have a vision problem that they need corrective lenses for to correct the headache. Another reason is a problem with your spine may be causing problems with your eyes. Over the years many chiropractors have encountered instances where the vision of a patient improved following chiropractic care. In fact, many peer reviewed journals have been filled with case reports and other articles regarding this phenomenon. These articles site improvements in vision, motor function of the eye, pressure within the eye and pupil size. In our own office, we have seen improvement with patients who have chronic watering eyes, a child with an eye that drifts to the side, and another patient who comes in saying she knows she needs adjusted because her eyes are getting a bit blurry.
So what is the rationale behind these changes that chiropractic care can make on eyesight? One well known research team that is composed of a chiropractor and an ophthalmologist believes it has something to do with the blood supply to the eye. Dr. Gorman, an ophthalmologist, believes the neck affects the innervation of the vertebral arteries which ultimately supply blood to the eye and its surrounding structures. If the neck is out of alignment, the nerves going to the vertebral arteries are more sensitive and can constrict the arteries. As a result, the cells of the retina and other structures of the eye become somewhat ischemic. This ischemia doesn’t kill the cells, but causes them to not function properly. Upon restoration of normal blood supply, when the neck misalignment is corrected, the improved oxygenation of the involved cells can restore normal function.
To be clear, chiropractic is not a treatment for blindness or other disorders of the eyes. However, by correcting misalignments in the spine, patients benefit on many levels which often have little to do with their musculoskeletal complaints.