What is Ophthalmology of Chinese Medicine?



Chinese and Western medicines were developed by two different philosophies. They have their own strengths. For some refractory/not be cure diseases from the Western's view, Ophthalmology of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may cure/improve vision of those patients with such diseases.


Ophthalmology of Chinese medicine is a valuable part of the cultural heritage in our country. It was evolved and developed from the past experience of thousands years.


Currently, the practitioner combines the current ophthalmology knowledge and modern diagnostic techniques into the theory of TCM. They advance the understanding of the diseases, hence heightening the treatment efficacy.

History of Ophthalmology of Chinese Medicine


Ophthalmology of Chinese medicine were forming in ancient China (Southern and Northern dynasties). The ancients interpreted the physiological and pathological phenomena of body by ancient Chinese philosophical knowledge. At that time, they had initial understanding of ocular anatomy and its physiological functions.  In the period of Sui Tang dynasties(589-907), some monographs recorded surgical procedures about cataract, pterygium, chalazion, concretion, etc. In Ming dynasty (around mid-16th century), "Silversea Subtleties" summed up the achievements in ophthalmology before the Ming dynasty. It recorded a lot of diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and became an important reference of Ophthalmology until now.  This book was translated into English by Western scholars and widely spread in the world. 


Characteristics of Ophthalmology of Chinese Medicine


5 wheels

Because of the different philosophies of Chinese and Western medicines, both have different strengths in the treatment of ocular diseases. Chinese medicine give a better treatment effect for functional or degenerative eye diseases while the Western is better in treating diseases needed by surgery.

One of the theories from the past has still been using in Ophthalmology of Chinese Medicine. It is the “theory of five wheels”(五輪學說). It classified the different areas of eye into five viscera (五臟) listed in the table beside and shown in the above figure.

In modern Ophthalmology of Chinese medicine, we exploit modern diagnostic techniques and pathology of knowledge to achieve a more accurate diagnosis and most effective treatment for patients. For certain eye diseases (such as glaucoma, macular degeneration needed surgical treatment, etc) can be treated by both specialties to achieve the best treatment effect.

Structure (Name of wheel)

Viscera (臟)

Black part of eyeball , includes cornea (Wind-wheel 風輪)

Liver (肝)

Inner and outer Canthi (Blood-wheel血輪)

Heart (心)

Eyelids (Flesh-wheel肉輪)

Spleen (脾)

White part of eyeball, include Inter-palpebral Conjunctiva & Sclera) (Qi-wheel氣輪)

Lung (肺)

Pupil, include Structures beyond Pupil (Retina, Optic Pathway)(Water-wheel水輪)

Kidney (腎)

To know more about Ophthalmology of TCM, please visit our Blog (available in Chinese Version currently)



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