According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the eyes are related to the Wood Element and the Liver energetic organ system; however, the eyes are connected to all the vital organ systems and can reflect the health of the body through TCM eye diagnosis: The eye lid muscle relates to the Spleen; the inner and outer canthus relates to the Heart; the sclera relates to the lung; the iris relates to the Liver; the pupils relates to the Kidney.
The ability to have strong vision relates on an emotional level according to Five Elements Theory, and a Wood Element imbalance may result in a lack of planning and vision for a persons’ life in general. Liver imbalances predominate the patterns of imbalance that lead to poor vision, but the eyes are also susceptible to infection and other conditions when the body’s defenses, or Wei Qi, are weakened. Here are some of the more common patterns:
Liver Blood is responsible for moistening and nourishing the eyes according to TCM. Blood is a Yin substance. In addition to dry eyes, one may experience the following conditions due to Yin Deficiency:
- Near sightedness as seen with aging
- Blurry vision
- Floaters in the eyes
- Color blindness or dry eyes
- Night blindness
- Stars when standing
Liver Heat and the Eyes
Liver Qi Stagnation can lead to Heat; chronic Liver Heat will consume Yin. Therefore, Liver Yin Deficiency indications may be due to ongoing Liver Qi Stagnation that has not been addressed in a timely manner. Symptoms would include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Painful eyes
- Inflammation of tear ducts (likely Liver Fire overacting on Heart causing Heart Fire)
- A burning sensation of the eyes
- Anger and frustration
Liver Wind and the Eyes
Internal Wind is indicated with a sudden onset of symptoms and erratic movements. This can be a result of chronic Liver Qi Stagnation resulting in Liver Heat, as heat tends to rise upward and create a vortex of wind much as you would observe at a camp fire; all universal laws that apply to our outer world also apply to our inner bodily world. Common symptoms
- Eye lid twitching
- Eye lid flickering
- Excessive tearing
- Vertigo or dizziness
Spleen Deficiency and the Eyes
Several conditions of the eyes are related to Spleen Qi Deficiency with Dampness accumulating. Typically, there is not pain associated with these conditions which include:
- Eyelid cysts
- Eyelid edema
- Drooping eyelid
Kidney Deficiency and the Eyes
Wei Qi Deficiency and the Eyes
In Chinese medicine, disease arrises not only from internal imbalances and deficiencies, but also from external forces of nature that can have an impact on our health. These types of eye conditions would commonly be related to infections, seasonal allergies, and dust or pollen reactions. It is only when our body’s defenses have become weak that these external forces can have an impact on our health, thus, external invasions of pathogens are rooted in internal deficiency. Wei Qi is the protective Qi energy (likened to the immune response) that circulates at the surface of our body and protects us from pathogens; when Wei Qi is weak, we are vulnerable to all types of disease patterns.
Six Evils and Eye Health
Common external pathogens that impact the eyes are Wind, Damp, Fire, Dryness, Cold, and Summer Heat according to TCM. Of these six evil factors, Wind, Damp and Fire typically attack the eyes in acute cases. Wind is the leading pathogenic factor, which can easily bring other environmental “evils” into the eyes. Wind pathogens come on quickly; mixed with Fire bringing inflammation, ulceration, and redness; mixed with Dampness bringing mucus, edema, and secretions. This would be a common pattern with conjunctivitis or seasonal allergies, and should be distinguished from the internal patterns of Liver Wind, Spleen Damp, and Liver Fire; while the symptoms are similar, they have to be addressed differently for the best outcomes for great eye health.
Eye paralysis due to Bell's Palsy is well treated with acupuncture; the sooner that you receive treatment the faster and better you will respond. Bell's Palsy is considered an acute pathogenic invasion of Wind. Many people find they are afflicted with this after being exposed to actual wind, such as riding in a car with the window down.