Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Needles trump patches in Amblyopia.

Ann Curley of CNN reported that acupuncture is helping to improve vision in children with lazy eye - also called amblyopia, this affects an estimated .3 to 5 percent of people worldwide. It occurs when one eye is weaker than the other and the vision signals from the weaker eye are improperly processed by the brain. Amblyopia happens when the nerve pathway from one eye to the brain does not develop during childhood. This leads to the abnormal eye sending a blurred image or the wrong image to the brain confusing or ignoring the image from the weaker eye.

This reporting was based on a study published online in the Archives of Ophthalmology. For the study, researchers compared the effectiveness of two hours of daily patching therapy with acupuncture for treating lazy eye in 88 children aged seven to 12, all of whom had already worn glasses for at least 16 weeks. After 15 weeks of both therapies, vision clarity improved in more than 66 percent of the patch group and more than 75 percent of the acupuncture group. Lazy eye was declared resolved in 41.5 percent of the acupuncture group and in 16.7 percent of the patched eye group

HealthDay reported, About half the children were treated five times a week with acupuncture, targeting five specific acupuncture needle insertion points (located at the top of the head and the eyebrow region, as well as the legs and hands). Meanwhile, the other half were given two hours a day of patch therapy, combined with a minimum of one hour per day of near-vision exercises, such as reading. Then, after about four months of treatment, the research team found that overall visual acuity improved markedly more among the acupuncture group relative to the patch group.

MedPage noted that the mechanism why acupuncture works remains unclear, but researchers led by Dr Dennis Lam at the The Joint Shantou International Eye Center say that acupuncture at vision-related acupoints may modulate the activity of the visual cortex. What's more, acupuncture has also been shown to be effective in increasing blood flow to the cerebral and ocular vasculatures, stimulating the expression or retinal nerve growth factors and leading to metabolic changes in the central nervous system.

As an aside I find this commercial involving acupuncture hilarious!


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