While a significant percentage of our society experiences declining vision, there appears to be a limited understanding of what can be done about it. In addition to corrective lenses or surgical procedures, massage therapists with an understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can make a substantial contribution to the maintenance of sight. Principles of TCM can guide bodyworkers in choosing acupressure locations to therapeutically support client eye health.
General TCM Theory for the Eyes
Although massage therapists are not intended to be TCM diagnosticians, the following principles will be of value to enhancing assessment and acupressure skills.
According to TCM, diseases involving the eye are closely related to a liver imbalance. Whenever studying TCM theory, it is important to recall that a reference to an organ may include the actual organ, but also takes into account the accompanying meridian and its energy. So while an eye disorder may correspond to a liver imbalance, the liver itself may actually be healthy.
In addition to the liver’s primary role in vision, the eye is nourished by all of the internal organs in the body. Specifically, the health of different parts of the eye reflects the health of the following organ systems:
- The pupil and lens of the eye reflect kidney health
- The sclera reflects lung health
- The arteries and veins, as well as the inner and outer canthus, reflect heart health
- The flesh around the eye reflects spleen health
- The cornea and iris reflect liver health
Because an imbalance in any of the internal organs can be witnessed in different parts of the eye, taking note of a person’s eyes can help in choosing a protocol. Abnormal eye coloration suggests a pathological cause. For example, a client with a discoloration of the sclera would benefit from bodywork on the lung (reflective of the sclera) and liver (applicable for all eye imbalances) meridians. If the sclera discoloring is due to an abundance of inflamed blood vessels, the therapist might want to also work with the heart meridian.
Abnormal eye color is also representative of a system out of balance. Before making this connection, a therapist must understand the colors associated with each major organ system:
- Heart is associated with the color red
- Kidney is associated with the colors blue or black
- Spleen is associated with the colors orange or yellow
- Liver is associated with the color green
- Lung is associated with the color white
These color indicators help a therapist decide what meridian system is most important to address. For example, a client with bags beneath the eyes would likely benefit from bodywork to balance the spleen (reflected in the flesh around the eyes). If those bags were blue or black, the spleen bodywork could be supported with kidney meridian acupressure.
Specific Eye Acupressure Points
Applying acupressure to points around the eyes can be a powerful adjunct to a massage session. Some of the major therapeutic points are:
Urinary Bladder 1 – Located where the inner corner of the eye meets the nose. This point is advised for all types of eye problems, especially early-stage cataracts, glaucoma, conjunctivitis and blurry vision.
Urinary Bladder 2 – Located in the depressions at the inner (close to midline) ends of the eyebrows. Similar to Urinary Bladder 1, this point is advised for all types of eye problems, especially early-stage cataracts, glaucoma, conjunctivitis and blurry vision.
Yuyao (extra point) – Located at the midpoint of the eyebrow in the hollow. This point is good for eye problems related to worry, excessive studying and mental strain.
Triple Warmer 23 – Located in the depression at the outside end of the eyebrow. This local point benefits many eye and facial problems, including eye tics, burning eyes, watery eyes and blurry vision.
Gallbladder 1 – Located in the cavities on the outside corners of the eye sockets. This point is good for conjunctivitis, red and sore eyes, photophobia, dry, itchy eyes, early-stage cataracts, blurred vision and temporal headaches (especially when related to vision problems).
Stomach 1 – Located directly below the pupil on the infraorbital ridge bone. This point is indicated for sinus congestion, itchy, burning, dry eyes (especially when related to colds or allergies).
Acupressure on points near the eyes must be done gently, slowly and with clean hands. Do not massage on an open wound, a scar, burn or infection.
Using TCM theory will help massage therapists better understand a client’s eye complaints, improve assessment skills and result in a more directed, therapeutic treatment. In addition to regular visits to eye doctors, clients can also turn to massage to help improve and support the health of their eyes.
www.acufinder.com, Acupressure Points for Better Vision, Dr. Marc Grossman, OD, LAc, 2006.
www.acupuncturetoday.com, Natural Vision Improvement: An Alternative to Lasik Surgery, Deborah E. Banker, MD, December 2001.