Frequent visits to chiropractor can impair vision: Doctors

Bengaluru: If you are a frequent visitor to a chiropractor to get your neck adjusted, then you might even risk vision loss.

Doctors say that energetic thrusts and rotations performed in high-velocity neck manipulation can damage blood vessels in retina causing abnormal bleeding in the eye.

They also said that due to the sensitivity of the retina cells  even small injuries can end up in vision problems. 

Dr Rajesh R., senior consultant vitreo retina & ocular oncology, Sankara Eye Hospital, said, “Chiropractic treatment is the alternative method for the diagnosis or massages of muscles, bones, spinal cord, neck, etc. Sometimes it can get pressed or twisted wrongly due to force on that area which could lead to severe damage to the retina. The primary ailments can be a sprain, nerves getting scissored or one nerve overlapping on another, breathing problems, all due to the high-velocity pressure."

A study conducted by the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center also stated that high-velocity neck manipulation can cause stress on the eye and result in spotty vision.

Dr Rekha S., senior vitreoretina surgeon at Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital Bengaluru, said, “Upper spinal manipulation with the HVLA technique involves high velocity, low-amplitude thrusts on the cervical spine administered posteriorly. The force, velocity, and extent of these movements can lead to vertebral and internal carotid arterial dissection, embolic phenomenon, or direct effect over the eye.”

The central retinal artery occlusion, posterior vitreous detachment and its associated complications like pre-retinal hemorrhages, vitreous hemorrhage, retinal tears, retinal detachment, Wallenberg syndrome, Horner syndrome, loss of vision, and ptosis are all amongst the eye-related problems that have been associated with chiropractic upper spinal manipulations, she said.

Experts said that sprained areas need proper care and treatment so going to a physiotherapist, or someone who has good knowledge of anatomy is a must. "Abnormal postures, exercising in a wrong manner, wrong way of massaging can lead to the areas getting more prone to further consequences, resulting in loss of vision or spotty vision," they added.

As for prevention, Dr Rekha pointed out that chiropractors and other medical personnel should enquire about history of the cervical vascular disease, especially in older patients. "Upper spinal manipulation is associated with ophthalmological adverse effects of unknown frequency. Ophthalmologists should be aware of its risks. Early diagnosis and treatment provide the best results," she added.

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