A recent study came out yesterday that has a lot of people talking. Acupuncture may be as effective in treating amblyopia (lazy eye) as patching.
From the CNN story Needles trump patches in treating kids’ eye problem:
In the randomized trial, researchers compared the effectiveness of two hours of daily patching therapy with acupuncture for treating lazy eye in 88 children aged 7 to 12. All children had already worn glasses for at least 16 weeks. 43 of the children were randomly assigned to the acupuncture treatment group, receiving five treatments per week that targeted five needle insertion sites. 45 children in the patch group had their stronger eye patched for two hours per day and were instructed to do activities such as reading and typing, which helps to strengthen near vision in the weaker eye.
What do I think about this? I don’t know. I’m not highly educated in acupuncture. I do think it has it’s place. I do know that patching alone is not as effective as vision therapy because patching treats one eye and not both. (See this recent post by Dr. Len Press for additional info). So it is not compelling that acupuncture is better than patching.
I also know that amblyopia is much more than a visual acuity problem. It is a problem of many visual skills including focusing and perception. So much more extensive research needs to be done. But this is a good sign that ophthalmologists and visual scientists are looking into complex areas of vision and visual treatment.
Before anyone undertakes acupuncture for amblyopia, I do recommend a comprehensive visual and eye health evaluation by an optometrist who specializes in children’s vision. If you need to find one, COVD is a great place to start.
So that is my opinion. What do you think about acupuncture for amblyopia?
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.