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Category Archives: Eyes
There is growing interest by researchers worldwide in acupuncture for the eyes. Eye conditions are routinely treated with acupuncture in Chinese hospitals. Below are summaries of some recently published papers. You will not find research on every possible eye complaint, so do not be disappointed if yours is not there. You are always welcome to give me a call and discuss things.
Do take your eye health seriously. Our eyes are more challenged in the modern world, by things like long hours of screen use, or air conditioning in the workplace. See an optician for an eye examination at least every two years, even if you don’t wear glasses. It sometimes detects other underlying health problems.
With some conditions such as dry eye, recurrent conjunctivitis and blepharitis, there is much important lifestyle and self-care advice that I will suggest to you. It is important that you follow these recommendations if the treatment is to have maximum impact.
A team of American researchers led by the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has shown acupuncture can be a helpful addition to routine clinical treatment of dry eye. A cohort of 49 patients were randomly assigned to receive either true (24) or (25) sham acupuncture. Treatment was given twice, on consecutive days. One week after treatment, both groups exhibited improvements on the ocular surface disease index, but at six months, the improvement was significantly greater in the true acupuncture group. By three months, true acupuncture was associated with improvements in many subjective measures of dry eye symptoms (eg scratchiness, redness & discomfort), although several objective measures remained unchanged. Even though not statistically significant, true acupuncture patients required fewer artificial tears.
The researchers conclude that acupuncture can be an effective adjunct to routine clinical treatment of dry eye, especially given its low risk profile.
(Acupuncture and dry eye: current perspectives. A double-blinded randomized controlled trial and review of the literature. Clinical Ophthalmology, 24 April 2019.)
Researchers in the Department of Ophthalmology, University Hospital Dresden, Germany looking at acupuncture and glaucoma, have found that blood flow to the eyes can be improved by giving acupuncture to patients with primary open-angle glaucoma. Disturbances in ocular blood flow have been coming under scrutiny as a cause of visual field damage in glaucoma patients.
In the randomised study, 56 patients aged 32 to 69, were assigned to receive either a single acupuncture treatment using acupuncture points traditionally used to benefit eye health, or to a single treatment using points which are not specific to eye health. Ocular blood flow parameters were measured before treatment, and again ten minutes afterwards. Pulsatile ocular blood flow was seen to increase significantly after only the eye-specific acupuncture treatment.
(The short-term effect of acupuncture on different ocular blood flow parameters in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma: a randomized, clinical study. Clinical Ophthalmology, 19 July 2018.)
Investigators at the Singapore Eye Research Institute have found that acupuncture can help dry eyes by providing benefits in addition to those provided by artificial tears. A total of 150 patients aged 40 to 85, were randomly allocated to receive either artificial tears alone (Systane Ultra four times per day), artificial tears plus eight acupuncture sessions (delivered twice a week), or artificial tears plus a Chinese herbal supplement traditionally used for dry eyes. Treatment took place over a one month period.
Compared with the group using artificial tears alone, the acupuncture group reported lower symptom scores, and also reduced conjunctival redness. Inflammatory cytokine levels in tear fluid were significantly reduced following acupuncture. The herbal supplement did not significantly alter symptom scores. No adverse effects of acupuncture were noted.
The researchers conclude that treatment involving predominantly eye drops usually provides only temporary symptomatic relief. This study suggests that 30% of people with dry eye may not actually obtain relief from drops, so alternative treatments should be explored. For mild to moderate dry eye, acupuncture can be considered, provided that there is access to suitably trained and accredited professionals.
(Acupuncture & herbal formulation compared with artificial tears alone: evaluation of dry eye symptoms & associated tests in randomised clinical trial. BMJ Open Ophthalmology, 18 June 2018.)
Acupuncture has been found to offer objectively measurable improvements in tear film quantity in patients with certain types of dry eye. A total of 108 such patients were randomised to receive either acupuncture or artificial tears. Both groups were divided into three subgroups based on their type of dry eye: lipid tear deficiency, Sjogren dry eye and non-Sjogren dry eye. Acupuncture was given three times per week for four weeks. Artificial tears were permitted four times per day in both eyes, for four weeks.
After four weeks of treatment, compared to baseline measurements and control groups, tear film quantity had increased significantly in the acupuncture group for lipid tear deficiency and non-Sjogren dry eye, but not for the Sjogren dry eye group. Where the latter group is concerned, the authors speculate that the treatment period may have been too short, and that given the chronic degeneration of specialised cells which occurs in Sjogrens, a more complex approach to treatment may be necessary.
(Fourier-domain optical coherence tomography for monitoring the lower tear meniscus in dry eye after acupuncture treatment. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 2015.)