Blindness & Acupuncture
If the eyeball is still intact, acupuncture may relieve neurogenic blindness. Diagnosis and prompt appropriate treatment is especially important with eye problems, however, and acupuncture should not be the treatment of first choice for most intra-eyeball problems. Glaucoma (increased intracocular pressure) is a frequent cause of blindness which can usually be controlled by early treatment with drugs or surgery. Cataracts (opaque lenses) can be removed surgically. There is some evidence, however, that acupuncture can improve eye physiology and has even been helpful in treating glaucoma and cataracts. It can be used in conjunction with chemical treatment of glaucoma and to discourage the development of incipient cataracts. Retinitis pigmentosa is a progressive deterioration of the retina, for which there is no effective standard medical or surgical treatment. Acupuncture may be helpful in some cases of this disease. Blindness from optic nerve pathology, nerve damage from prenatal rubella, birth trauma or post-natal diseases, may respond well to acupuncture. Brain tumors putting pressure on the optic nerve should, of course, be ruled out by appropriate diagnostic tests before acupuncture is attempted. After removal of a brain tumor, however, the optic nerve may have residual damage and not function adequately until after acupuncture. Lesions of the optic nerve or of the nerves controlling the eye muscles from multiple sclerosis usually respond well to acupuncture. Diplopia (double vision) may be relieved after only two or three treatments. Acupuncture needles are, of course, not inserted into the eyes. Some of the points used are on the arms or legs. Many patients have their vision restored by the time they have had six treatments but others require many more for maximum benefit.