Acupuncture treats lazy eye
Around five per cent of people around the world suffer from amblyopia. It is a condition that features poor vision in one eye compared to the other and is known in laymanâ€™s terms as â€œlazy eyeâ€. Now a new study suggests that acupuncture might be a valuable treatment for this troublesome condition.
Whatever you call it, amblyopia or lazy eye, the condition is the most common cause of vision problems in children and it can be corrected with glasses if caught at an early age. However, both glasses and contact lenses become less effective after age seven. After this age a patch has traditionally been used. Patches however can cause social issues and make balanced vision when doing homework difficult. The other alternative for older children is eye drops but they can temporarily blur sight in the good eye.
Now a new study from China has suggested that acupuncture might be a viable alternative treatment for these older children.
For the study children between the ages of seven and twelve suffering from lazy eye were recruited. All of the children had been wearing glasses for at least sixteen weeks. Half of the children were randomly assigned to wear an eye patch over the eye for two hours every day. The other half attended five acupuncture sessions every week. Both groupâ€™s treatment lasted 25 weeks and all of the kids were given new glasses to wear and asked to perform an hour of vision activities each day.
Among those who wore the eye patch seventeen per cent overcame their lazy eye. In the acupuncture group 42 per cent overcame the condition. So acupuncture was more than twice as effective as eye patch treatment.
If you are wincing at the idea of acupuncture for the eye because you are picturing needles near those delicate eyeballs then fear not, as always with acupuncture the needles were used at vision-related points on the body. The researchers speculate that this result might have been due to an increase in blood flow to the eyes and the brain.
Access to acupuncturists with knowledge of treating lazy eye may be an issue outside of China but this certainly points to a valuable treatment option for a widespread condition.