Treat Macular Degeneration with Acupuncture

Treat Macular Degeneration with Acupuncture

It may seem inconceivable that a 2,000+ year old ancient practice could address a modern day threat like macular degeneration. Yet, the application of acupuncture has shown to inexplicably prompt healing mechanisms which could benefit your health in many ways, including your vision. 

A licensed acupuncturist will look at your whole health picture, not just your symptoms. Painless hair thin needles (never in your eye) are placed along specific body meridians (pathways) used to “manipulate” your life energy force, aka Qi (“chee”). This approach allows for some beneficial results that may make you think about considering how to treat macular degeneration with acupuncture.

Increasing Circulation

One of the major concerns for retinal health is blood flow. When circulation to the back of your eye is compromised, macular degeneration could begin to develop. Decreased blood flow means less oxygen and nutrition resulting in more inflammation and weakened protection. Conventional medicine attempts to increase blood flow and decrease inflammation of the retina through varied invasive procedures including direct ocular injections. Acupuncture may be a less invasive option as the small, painless needles are never inserted in the eye. 

A study of sixty eyes of 43 AMD (age-related macular degeneration) patients and 53 eyes of 35 healthy individuals over the age of 50, looked at RFI (Retinal Function Imager) analysis of blood flow velocity of secondary and tertiary branches of ocular arteries and veins. Researchers of the study from the Department of Ophthalmology, The Edith Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, Israel, which was published in Current Eye Research (2014) concluded that, 

“Decreased blood flow velocity in retinal arteries in patients with AMD was found. Despite the fact that AMD is essentially a choroidal [blood vessel] disease, retinal vessels show a functional abnormality, which may suggest that the vascular abnormality in this disease is more generalized.”

Although acupuncture is considered an “energy manipulative” practice, conventional medicine cites much of the mechanism of this application is due to increased blood flow through painless needle stimulation. Increased circulation through acupuncture treatment has shown to enhance a multitude of health benefits. One benefit includes bringing anti-inflammatory compounds to the retina via improved circulation. 

In a report by Retina Today, two studies are cited regarding the circulatory, anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture on macular degeneration, stating that,

“[Acupuncture] Treatment has been shown to decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines, suggesting applications for chronic inflammatory conditions such as dry eye disease [aka dry AMD].”

Getting Right to the Point

The protocol of applying acupuncture treatment dates back to ancient text that was developed through many observational reports. Some of these publishings are the result of Chinese soldiers returning from the battlefield. At that time, one of the major choices of weaponry was the bow and arrow. Soldiers would suffer arrow wounds only to find that after the wounds were treated, other parts of a soldier’s body responded positively. Eventually these points were recored and are believed to be one of several manifestations of acupuncture treatment. 

Eventually, more point correlations were discovered through needle manipulation which created a network of pathways called meridians. Each pathway connects to specific organs and other systemic associations. These locations could be used to determine the best course of treatment for ailments linked accordingly. 

When it comes to macular degeneration, according to Acufinder, some of the acupuncture points that may be utilized include: 

  • BL [bladder]1 – Between the upper nose and inner eye
  • BL2 – End of inner (medial) eyebrow
  • GB [gallbladder] 1 – Outer (lateral) side of the eye
  • GB 20 – Between back (posterior) skull and upper trapezius (shoulder) muscle
  • GB 37 – Outer side of the mid-lower leg between calf and shin
  • ST [stomach] 1 – Just under the middle of the eye
  • ST 36 – Upper outside lower leg just below the knee
  • KI [kidney] 3 – Just above the outer ankle
  • LI [large intestine] 4 – Top of web between index finger and thumb
  • LV [liver] 3 – Top of foot between the big toe and adjacent toe
  • SP [spleen] 6 – Lower side leg

Some people are surprised to receive acupuncture in locations far from their affected area. However, according to the ancient acupuncture meridian chart, these points all work hand-in-hand to heal a correlating ailment. 

Organ Connection

As mentioned, acupuncture correlates with meridians which are associated with different systemic organs. My Kawartha, a Canadian media group, reported on ‘Acupuncture For Eye Conditions’ by licensed acupuncturist Lori Mitchell. 

According to the report, 

“…the liver meridian is often implicated in eye disease, because the liver “opens to the eyes.” It is the primary energy flow responsible for supporting vision health; however, all internal organs nourish the eyes, as all meridians either run through the eyes, or if out of balance, can affect vision health.”

The report continues to show the acupuncture organ meridian connection to eye health such as:   

  • Sclera (white of eye) – lung
  • Eye and pupil – kidney
  • Cornea and iris – liver
  • Retina – kidney and liver
  • Eye veins and arteries – heart
  • Bottom eyelid – stomach
  • Top eyelid – spleen

Using organ connection with specific point locations, an acupuncturist could increase circulation as well as boost immune system response to treat macular degeneration.

Acupuncture AMD Studies 

Several small studies have shown how acupuncture is a viable option for treating AMD. One study used a particular acupuncture practice called emayaoling. This type of acupuncture involves rotating and moving specific needles for an “active” response. 

This study was conducted by researchers from Zhejiang People’s Hospital, Hangzhou, China using a total of 110 participants suffering with AMD. The study protocol was described as follows, 

“The treatment was given once every two days in the two groups and for 3 months continuously. The visit was followed up for 3 months. Before and after treatment, as well as at follow-up, the eyesight, the effect on macular area and the macular retinal structure [the macular nerve fiber layer (MNFL), retinal neurepithelium layer (RNL), pigment epithelium and choroid capillary composite lay (PECCL)] were evaluated separately.”

Results and conclusion stated,

“After treatment and at follow-up, the eyesight was improved as compared with that before treatment in the two groups, The emayaoling acupuncture technique achieves better clinical therapeutic effects on treatment of early AMD as compared with the regular acupuncture.”

Another study using self-administered micro-current therapy at acupuncture points around the eye also showed promise. As reported by Crane, 

“August Reader, MD, a neuro-retinologist, and Grace Halloran, PhD, completed a double blind study that indicated positive results from micro-current stimulation for patients with Age-related Macular Degeneration…Over a one-year period 42 patients were trained in the use of self-treatment with microcurrent stimulation…The stimulator was used to deliver micro-current at 250 to 700 microAmps for five minutes…The average age of patients was 77.6 years. Treatment was 2 to 3 times per day, every day. Visual acuity and VF-14 tests were done every three months. Of these initial forty-two (42) patients, 36 (85.7%) showed improvement in visual acuity…”

Consult with a licensed acupuncturist to see if you may be a candidate to treat macular degeneration with acupuncture. This modality could also be used to strengthen your eyesight and possibly prevent or slow ocular disease as well.