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Category: Scientific Studies
Date 10-oct-1997
Title Changes in visual Acuity in Patients Receiving Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic Care
Author Robert Kessinger, D.C.; Dessy Boneva, D.C
Main Condition/ Disease  Visual Disturbance
Source Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research (JVSR); 2(1), Jan 1998
Abstract This study involving 67 subjects investigated the relationship between upper cervical specific chiropractic care and changes in visual acuity. The subjects were evaluated for each eye before and 6-weeks after chiropractic care. Results indicated statistically significant improvement in visual acuity in both right and left eyes.
Summary In this study it is noted that “considerable evidence attests an association between visual disorders and head/cervical neck trauma” although the body of study is not great with reported cases being only case reports or small studies. In previous cases and the ones by Gorman et al on my website it is difficult to differentiate what type of manual adjusting was performed, with non-specific manipulation of the entire spine having been initiated. Gorman et al however do mention cervical adjusting although it again is not clear as to which cervical vertebral segment was actually adjusted. Kessinger and Boneva set out to analyze whether there is a difference in results between non-specifically manipulating the entire spine and when adjusting specific segments of the cervical spine. The authors cite the work of Terret and Gorman which put forward theories as to cause of visual disturbance following spinal/head trauma. These theories include “irritation of the cervical sympathetic nervous system causing vertebral artery spasm and decreasing blood flow to the brain”; “including the fibers surrounding the internal carotids which supply posterior orbit, orbital muscles, dilatory muscles of the pupil and muscles of the eyelid” and “cells enter a state of hibernation when cerebral blood flow is between 0.10 ml/g/min (cell lethality) and 0.15 ml/g/min (normal)” According to the authors it is also “not unreasonable to assume that ischemic changes in vasculature associated with the sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation, or pressure to the eyes per se could elicit changes in vision.” Remember in my newsletter on Parkinson’s disease the surgeon Fernandez-Noda suggests coiling and kinking of the vertebral and carotid arteries resulting in reduced flow of oxygenated blood to the brain cells. There is evidence that C1 (atlas) adjustments have always elicited a parasympathetic response and further vertebral subluxation theory proposing the misalignment of vertebrae giving rise to neurological impairment is gaining support from researchers. Thus it should be fair to conclude that visual disturbances can be reversed or reduced with appropriate targeted specific upper cervical care. Of the 67 subjects in this case, 59 had a demonstrated C1 listing (subluxation) and the other 8 had a C2 listing. Upper cervical specific chiropractic care was carried out to the appropriate segment with adjustments being administered in follow-up if thermographic changes were found. The results indicated a statistically significant change in both left and right eye visual acuity following chiropractic care, although to actual vertebral listing revealed no correlation. The upper cervical adjustment procedures used in the study show improvement in visual acuity linked to correction of the upper cervical subluxation and the observed effects seem to be longer term than would be expected from a stimulus-response reaction. A promising study with more research required.
Keywords upper cervical chiropractic, vertebral subluxation, visual acuity

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