Impaired vision according to Chinese Medicine

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Impaired vision can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like impaired vision here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here impaired vision is often associated with dizziness, tinnitus and insomnia in the pattern “Liver Yang Rising”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause impaired vision.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of impaired vision we’ve identified four herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat impaired vision.

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause impaired vision

In Chinese Medicine impaired vision is a symptom for 4 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Yang Rising

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red

Long term Liver Yin Deficiency causes Liver Yang rising upwards. The treatment should be focused on subduing rising Yang as well as nourishing Liver Yin and Blood. It is also called Arrogant Liver Yang.

In addition to impaired vision, other symptoms associated with Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, tinnitus and insomnia.

Liver Yang Rising is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Liver Yang Rising here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to impaired vision, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and insomnia.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency is often treated with E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Donkey-Hide Gelatin - E Jiao - as a key herb). E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that pacify and extinguish internal wind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes Yin".

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Cracked

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can be caused by prolonged overwork, excessive sexual activity, chronic long term illnesses, consumption of Body Fluids by Heat, prolonged blood loss, overdosage of Kidney Yang tonics herbs, smoking and Kidney depleting foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juices.

In addition to impaired vision, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and tinnitus.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome, Prolonged Periods or Irregular Menstruation.

Kidney Yin Deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi), Floating (Fu)

Tongue color: Red

Liver Yang Rising can create Interior Wind if the condition is not treated for a long time. It can be divided to three categories based on the cause of the pattern: Liver Yin Deficiency, Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency or Liver Blood Deficiency.

In addition to impaired vision, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, tinnitus and insomnia.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising here

Four herbal formulas that might help with impaired vision

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Why might Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin help with impaired vision?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Yang Rising' of which impaired vision is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, tinnitus and insomnia.

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin here

E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Source date: the Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin. Nourishes Blood. Calms the Liver. Extinguishes Wind.

Why might E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang help with impaired vision?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency' of which impaired vision is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Blood Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and insomnia.

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang here

Er Zhi Wan

Source date: 1534 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Liver Yin. Nourishes Kidney Yin.

Why might Er Zhi Wan help with impaired vision?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yin Deficiency' of which impaired vision is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Er Zhi Wan here

Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang

Source date: 1918 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Sedates the Liver. Axtinguishes Wind. Nourishes the Yin. Anchors the yang.

Why might Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang help with impaired vision?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising' of which impaired vision is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, tinnitus and insomnia.

Read more about Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang here

Acupuncture points used for impaired vision

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat impaired vision

Why might Abalone Shell (Shi Jue Ming) help with impaired vision?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impaired vision and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impaired vision as a symptom (such as Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin for instance).

Abalone Shells is a Cold herb that tastes Salty. It targets the Kidney, the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms ascending Liver Yang. Clears Liver Heat that is obstructing the vision.

Read more about Abalone Shells here

Why might Saiga Antelope's Horn (Ling Yang Jiao) help with impaired vision?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impaired vision and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impaired vision as a symptom (such as Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang for instance).

Saiga Antelope's Horns is a Cold herb that tastes Salty. It targets the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Clears Internal Liver Wind, subdues Yang. Clears Liver Fire and brightens the eyes. Eliminates toxins and reduces fever.

Read more about Saiga Antelope's Horns here

Why might Dragon Bone (Long Gu) help with impaired vision?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impaired vision and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impaired vision as a symptom (such as Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang for instance).

Dragon Bones is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Calms the spirit. Anchors ascendant Liver Yang. Stops leakage of Bodily Fluids.

Read more about Dragon Bones here

Why might Eclipta Herb (Mo Han Lian) help with impaired vision?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impaired vision and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impaired vision as a symptom (such as Er Zhi Wan for instance).

Eclipta Herbs is a Cold herb that tastes Sour and Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies Yin of the Liver and Kidneys. Clears Blood Heat and stops bleeding.

Read more about Eclipta Herbs here

Why might Hematite (Dai Zhe Shi) help with impaired vision?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impaired vision and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impaired vision as a symptom (such as Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang for instance).

Hematite is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Stomach, the Heart, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Calms the Liver, anchors uprising Yang and clears Liver Fire. Moves Qi downward. Cools the Blood, stops bleeding.

Read more about Hematite here