Acupuncture may help some older children with lazy eye

December 13, 2010

Acupuncture could potentially become an alternative to patching for treating amblyopia (lazy eye) in some older children, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

About 0.3 percent to 5 percent of individuals worldwide have amblyopia, according to background information in the article. About one-third to one-half of the cases are caused by differences in the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness between the two eyes, a condition known as anisometropia. Correcting these refractive errors with glasses or contact lenses has been shown to be effective in children age 3 to 7 years, but among older children age 7 to 12, only 30 percent respond to visual correction alone.

Adding occlusion therapy--in which one eye is patched--increases this response rate to two-thirds, but some patients may not comply and those who do may experience emotional problems or reverse amblyopia, the authors note. Jianhao Zhao, M.D., of Joint Shantou International Eye Center of Shantou University and Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shantou, China, and colleagues compared acupuncture--which has also been used to treat dry eye and myopia--to patching in a randomized controlled trial involving 88 children.

Of these children, 43 were randomly assigned to the acupuncture group and received five treatments per week targeting five acupoints, or needle insertion sites. The remaining 45 children had their good eye patched for two hours a day and were instructed to do at least one hour of near-vision activities with the lazy eye, such as reading or typing.

After 15 weeks, visual acuity improved by about 1.8 lines in those whose eyes were patched and 2.3 lines in those who had acupuncture. An improvement of two lines or more occurred in 28 (66.7 percent) of those in the patching group and 31 (75.6 percent) of those in the acupuncture group. Lazy eye was considered resolved in 16.7 percent of patched eyes and 41.5 percent of eyes in the acupuncture group.

Both treatments were well tolerated; children had no problems complying with either therapy, and no serious adverse effects were found in either group. Acupuncture was performed after school to avoid interfering with participants' studies.

"Although the treatment effect of acupuncture appears promising, the mechanism underlying its success as a treatment for amblyopia remains unclear," the authors write. Targeting vision-related acupoints may change the activity of the visual cortex, the part of the brain that receives data from the eyes. It may also increase blood flow to the eye and surrounding structures as well as stimulate the generation of compounds that support the growth of retinal nerves, they note.

"The findings from this report indicate that the treatment effect of acupuncture for amblyopia is equivalent to the treatment effect of patching for amblyopia. However, only patients with anisometropic amblyopia were involved in our study and the follow-up period was relatively short," the authors conclude. "Moreover, acupuncture itself is a very complicated system of therapy. Differences exist among acupuncturists, and there are divergent manipulation modes, stimulation parameters, treatment styles and subjective sensations evoked by acupuncture stimulation. Because of the good results obtained in our study, the acupoints that we used could be considered for use in clinical practice."
-end-
(Arch Ophthalmol. 2010;128[12]:1510-1517. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor's Note: This study was supported in part by the Mr. Lai Seung Hung and Mrs. Lai Chan Pui Ngong Eye Fund and the Edith C. Blum Foundation. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Acupuncture Articles from Brightsurf:

Nonverbal doctor-patient rapport relieved pain during acupuncture treatment
When 22 acupuncture clinicians and 23 patients seeking pain relief mirrored each other's facial expressions during acupuncture treatment, patients experienced less pain, according to a new study.

Acupuncture before surgery means less pain, significantly fewer opioids for Veterans
Veterans who have acupuncture before surgery report less pain and need far fewer opioids to manage their discomfort, according to a randomized, controlled study being presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2020 annual meeting.

Acupuncture can reduce migraine headaches
Acupuncture can reduce migraine headaches compared to both sham (placebo) acupuncture and usual care, finds a new trial from China published by The BMJ today.

Acupuncture equals disease prevention say new studies
Well-recognized for its therapeutic effects, acupuncture is increasingly being appreciated for its ability to promote wellness and contribute to the prevention of a broad range of conditions.

Acupuncture may ease troublesome menopausal symptoms
A brief course of acupuncture may help to ease troublesome menopausal symptoms, suggests a small study published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Number of veterans affairs facilities offering acupuncture growing rapidly
Acupuncture is an increasingly important and effective component of chronic pain management and other areas of care in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Fertility study finds acupuncture ineffective for IVF birth rates
A study of over 800 Australian and New Zealand women undergoing acupuncture treatment during their IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle has confirmed no significant difference in live birth rates.

Acupuncture possible treatment for dental anxiety
Researchers have found evidence that acupuncture could help people who experience dental anxiety.

Harvard scientists ask 'what is the point?' in challenge to acupuncture researchers
The effectiveness of acupuncture compared to standard treatments has led to its growing inclusion in pain guidelines and in delivery organizations like the US military and Veterans Administration, yet many continue to believe acupuncture lacks scientific credibility.

Can acupuncture help alleviate menopausal symptoms?
An umbrella review from Duke Clinical Research Institute that was a comprehensive assessment of previous systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials has found that women who received acupuncture had less frequent and less severe vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause than women who did not have acupuncture.

Read More: Acupuncture News and Acupuncture Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.