How our eyes function play a big role in how our bodies interact with the external environment. Our posture will adapt to keep our eyes horizontal to the horizon. Our eyes are closely connected with our ears to reflexively turn our gaze towards sounds that may require our immediate attention. Given what an important role our eyes play in our overall posture and function, I believe they are structures commonly overlooked and left untreated. As osteopaths, we can do more than just refer out to an optometrist for eyeglass prescriptions.
For osteopaths, treating the eyes could be the difference between success with a patient or not. I’ve learned this first hand. I first started to appreciate the effect that strain and tension the eyes play on the body while struggling to release a rib in a patient’s upper back. Previous to coming to me, every osteopath she saw had failed in helping her. I didn’t have much success either until, I finally saw the tension in her eyes and orbit and released them. As soon as that released, her rib was instantly changed and her pain stayed gone.
Since then, I have spent more time considering the eyes in my osteopathic treatments. It has helped me understand the body in a more profound way than I previously had. Here’s some reasons that I think every osteopath should learn to treat the eyes:
They Can Be a Source of Musculoskeletal Pain:
If our eyes play such a strong role in our posture and how our bodies interact with the environment, then we know that how they function may have a global effect. In the An Osteopathic Approach To The Eye advanced course for osteopaths, osteopaths are taught multiple ways to evaluate a patient to sense how strain in eyes can cause global effects. This can happen from dysfunctional vision or eye glass prescriptions that work but are too strong or too weak.
Having been treating eyes for several years now, I have often seen improved range of motion of the cervical spine and thoracic region immediately after releasing structural strain in the eyes. This can also mean improved posture in your patients if their eye strain is affecting their posture.
They Can Give You Amazing Insight Into Venous Drainage In The Head:
Poor venous drainage out of the skull will show up in the eyes. They will feel more dense and less resilient. This will affect their ability to work properly. After working with eyes for a long time, I have come to appreciate how the eyes are a great place to monitor how well the venous system is draining blood from the head.
Not only can they give you information on how well blood is draining out of the skull, but they can be used to sense into the cavernous sinus and will guide you as to whether or not your treatment is successfully effecting venous drainage out of the skull.
In An Osteopathic Approach To The Eye course, you are introduced to a concept and techniques that can be used to effectively drain venous blood not just out of the eye and orbit, but all the way out of the skull. This is very powerful and can be helpful in any situation where you may want to decrease pressure in the eye and orbit.
Eyes Are A Gateway Into The Brain:
The eyes are an extension of the brain. The optic nerve fibers traverse the brain end up in the occipital lobe. Therefore, the eyes can be used to palpate into the brain in a way that cannot be accomplished with any other structure. Patients have often described feeling their brain “relaxing” using one of the releases taught in this course.
Treating the eyes osteopathically can be powerful for your patients. It can add a new dimension to your treatments and help you get results where you may not have in the past. Many of the concepts applied in treating the eyes mentioned above and others not mentioned, can then be applied to other places in the body adding a deeper understanding and application of osteopathic principles. Treating the eyes can help your break through with some of the patients that you may be struggling with and help you have more success with your patients.
Review of “An Osteopathic Approach To The Eye”:
“Daniel, one of my patients used to have 5% vision in one eye and none in the other (retinopathy of prematurity). When she had her daughter a couple of years ago her cataracts got worse, and her vision declined. I used your approach on her eyes on Wednesday. She told me this morning that everything looks brighter and bigger now; and that she now can’t bear to look at the lurid pink running top her husband bought her, because it irritates her eyes. Previously, she hadn’t realised that it was lurid pink at all. She’s coming back for another treatment next week. Love your work!” John Smartt (Sydney, Australia)