Acupuncture Treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa

Acupuncture Can Improve the Eyesight of Those with Retinitis Pigmentosa

Night blindness and the progressive loss of vision which ultimately culminates in a near-complete loss of vision. It sounds nightmarish, but this is sadly a scary reality for the many patients suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa if they are unable to find effective treatments for this condition to reduce the inflammation in their retina.

Retinitis Pigmentosa is a rare genetic disorder, which affects around 1 in 4000 people worldwide. There is genetic component in RP, but one can slow down the process of RP and maintain relatively good vision by eating healthy and having regular acupuncture treatments. Early symptoms show up as restricted night visibility, tripping and stumbling, and clumsiness due to a loss of peripheral vision. Night vision loss can also speed up when people drink alcohol regularly, have diabetes or have chronic digestive issues. Furthermore, when people take anti-acid medications or have allergies, the inflammation in their retina can progress much faster.

Typical Treatments for Retinitis Pigmentosa

As a chronic degenerative disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa cannot be completely cured. It usually progresses until the patient loses his/her sight completely. The current treatment focuses on slowing down vision loss, restoring some sight and rehabilitation services to adjust to life with reduced or no sight.

Current medical treatments range from using high doses of Vitamin A to receiving a retinal implant. Trials are currently underway for gene replacement therapy and tissue or cell replacement treatment.

Alternative Medicine for Retinitis Pigmentosa

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine focus on improving vision and slowing down the progression of the disease. They do not offer a complete cure; however, acupuncture can clear up retinal inflammation and bring more fresh blood to the retina cells to slow down the disease process. In some studies, patients with retinitis pigmentosa can keep their vision for many years. Acupuncturists also advise people on ways to get rid of or cut down unhealthy habits, so the degeneration of the retina cells can slow down.

A Look at the TCM Treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) treatments for Retinitis Pigmentosa follows a two-pronged strategy – oral herbal medication and acupuncture. Both these treatments work in tandem to improve the blood circulation to the eyes and reduce inflammation, which are two key factors leading to retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and other eye problems. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can make our body produce more positive hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. When people are trying to change bad habits, they have less stress and an easier time doing so with the production of more “happy” hormones.

A recent study in China observed the eye health of 42 patients. They were diagnosed with deficiency of the liver-Yin and kidney-Yin according to TCM theory by experienced an acupuncturist and herbalist, who treated the patients with a modified Ming Mu Di Huang concoction. This treatment resulted in measurable improvement in visual acuity and visual fields. The study ruled that the TCM decoction protects photoreceptor cells in retinal degeneration, therefore delaying the progression of the disease.

Acupuncture for Retinitis Pigmentosa

Well researched acupuncture points are selected for needle insertion in acupuncture treatment – stimulation in these points are known to improve the activity and efficiency of the rod and cone cells of the retina. This reinvigorates the neural networks and biological activity of the retina cells.

Ma et al. used acupuncture therapy in 15 cases of Retinitis Pigmentosa, and the study showed that in 86.7% of the cases, visual acuity, visual field, and ERG indicators were statistically better.