The treatment of conditions affecting vision such as myopia (short sightedness), colour blindness, squint and diseases of the retina by acupuncture are beyond the scope of this article. But in case of non-specific eye diseases such as chronic dryness, acupuncture can usually achieve dramatic improvement. More serious conditions such as optic atrophy show a more variable response, but nonetheless acupuncture offers the possibility of controlling these conditions, at least in a proportion of patients.
Non-Specific eye diseases in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
In terms of TCM differentiation, the following four syndromes are most commonly involved.
Clinical manifestations: Red eyes, acute attack. Eyes feel dry and hot. Eyes may water and feel aversion to bright light. Fever and discharge of thick yellow fluid may be there.
Key points: Fengchi GB-20, Hegu L.I.-4, Waiguan SJ-5 and local points.
Clinical manifestations: Red, painful and dry eyes. Watering of eyes. It may be worse in the afternoons or at night. Heat sensation in the head. Nausea and headache may occur.
Key points: Xingjian LIV-2, Taichong LIV-3, Waiguan SJ-5, Fengchi GB-20, Hegu L.I.-4, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Taixi KID-3, Guangming GB-37, Xiaxi GB-43 and local points.
Clinical manifestations: Dry, gritty eyes, blurred vision, photophobia, and dizziness.
Key points: Ququan LIV-8, Guanyuan REN-4, Zusanli ST-36, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Geshu BL-17, Ganshu BL-18, Pishu BL- 20.
Clinical manifestations: Red, sore and dry eyes Symptoms continue for long term and worse in the afternoon or at night. You may have night sweats.
Key Points: Taixi KID-3, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Zhaohai KID-6, Shenshu BL-23, Guanyuan REN-4 and local points.
Optic neuritis responds to acupuncture in many cases. In those patients who respond to treatment there is a chance of restoring vision. Optic atrophy appears to be more difficult to treat, but in the absence any other effective treatment one can try to prevent further deterioration of the sight. The chronic type of glaucoma is suitable for acupuncture and there will be signs of improvement after 4-5 treatments. Acupuncture is also effective in the early stages of glaucoma, and is more effective in the young and middle-aged than in the elderly.
This article has followed the TCM approach by taking the symptoms as a starting point in order to understand the disease. The Western medicine approach defines the disease on the basis of the patho-physiological process. But patients with such conditions are seeking out acupuncture treatment.
The treatment of eye diseases by acupuncture is by Richard Blackwell and Hugh Macpherson.
The author is Head of the Department of Acupuncture, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi.This treatment is now being made available in India at his clinic in Delhi.