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Patients with Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Source: Health CMi

Acupuncture benefits vision for patients with ischemic optic neuropathy. In a recent investigation, acupuncture improved visual acuity and light sensitivity while reducing defects of the visual field for patients with nonarteritic ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). The researchers note the improvements suggest “that regular and continuous acupuncture treatment contributed to the recovery of the visual function of these patients. This may be because acupuncture promoted the blood circulation of artery in the brain and eyes and around the optic disc.” They add, “acupuncture repaired and reconstructed the visual pathways.”

Nonarteritic ischemic optic neuropathy is a common optic neuropathy for patients over the age of 50. Risk factors include diabetes and hypertension. Signs and symptoms include unilateral loss of eyesight, visual defects and optic disc swelling or paleness. Researchers from the Department of Ophthalmology at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine conducted the study. The researchers note “this is the first report about acupuncture treatment for degenerative damage of the optic nerve caused by NAION.”

Sterile, disposable needles of 0.25 x 40 mm were used. The following acupuncture points were administered for patients:

BL1 (Jingming)
EX-HN7 (Qiuhou, M-HN-8)
GB14 (Yangbai)
DU19 (Baihui)
EX-HN1 (Sishencong)
EX-HN6 (Taiyang)
GB20 (Fengchi)
Pizhixue (Qiaoming)
LI4 (Hegu)
SJ5 (Waiguan)
Deqi sensation was evoked with manual acupuncture for select acupoints. LI4 and SJ5 were connected with electroacupuncture. Intensity levels were set to patient tolerance between 0.1 mA and 1.0 mA. The electroacupuncture device was set to disperse-dense waves. The acupuncture treatments were 5 times per week for 8 weeks. Needle retention time was 20 minutes per acupuncture session.

The total effective rate for visual acuity improvement after 8 weeks of acupuncture was 81.71%. Mean light sensitivity improved from 17.47 dB prior to acupuncture to 20.34 dB after acupuncture treatment. Mean defect improved from 9.39 dB prior to acupuncture to 6.30 dB after acupuncture treatment. The average latency of the P100 wave also improved with acupuncture treatment.

New cases of nonarteritic ischemic optic neuropathy affect thousands of individuals every year. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) that was funded in part by Research to Prevent Blindness (New York) indicates that approximately “5,700 new cases of acute nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy may be expected to occur each year” in the United States. Current therapies include glucocorticoids, hypotensive drugs, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, hyperbaric oxygen, and optic nerve sheath decompression procedures.

The recent study conducted by researchers from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and the China-Japan Friendship Hospital indicates that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment modality for NAION. Given the clinical successes documented in the study, additional research investigating the potential synergistic and additive properties of acupuncture combined with conventional therapies may help to develop superior patient treatment protocols.


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