Macular degeneration is an eye disease that normally affects the macula of older people. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for converting what we see into impulses that are transmitted to the brain. The visual clarity of people inflicted with condition is affected and reduced.

Early detection and preventive treatments are essential in addressing this eye condition. To date, the cure for macular degeneration has yet to be discovered. Thus, early diagnosis and treatment can greatly help in reducing vision loss that can lead to blindness.

Usual Treatments for Macular Degeneration

The steps undertaken to address this condition would depend on the stage and type of the disease you are experiencing. The treatments that are usually recommended for this condition include laser therapies and medication injections, among others.

Here are the two types of macular degeneration with their corresponding treatments:

•    Dry. This is the more common type of the disease. It occurs in stages. This happens when the light sensitive cells of the macula break down and blur the central vision gradually. Vitamins, minerals and fish oil are usually prescribed to provide the necessary nutrients that will prevent the condition from progressing or worsening. This can progress into the wet type later on.

•    Wet. This involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the retina. This can lead to the leakage of blood and fluid. The leakage will then raise the macula from its normal place that can cause rapid vision changes and blindness. This can be treated with therapy to destroy or reduce the abnormal blood vessels behind the retina. Lasers and drugs injected into the eye or arm may be used to target these vessels.

Acupuncture for Macular Degeneration

Lately, acupuncture has also been recommended to address this eye condition. Acupuncture is the Chinese practice of inserting thin needles in different specific points on the body. It is an alternative therapy that operates on the theory that stimulating the specified areas will help promote balance in the body and encourage healing.

Studies with regard to the positive effects of acupuncture on macular degeneration remain few. While it may not be considered as a cure for this condition, it may serve as an adjunct treatment but remember controlled long-term studies have not been performed.

One study showed that participants who received acupuncture treatment observed an 88% improvement in their condition as opposed to only 60% for the participants who only received traditional medications.  These results are purely subjective and rely purely on patient response.  The problem with macular degeneration is that there are very few symptoms until there is a sudden disastrous drop in vision.

The above study therefore needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

In the study mentioned above, the same acupuncture points were used to ensure that the results are accurate and reliable. The following acupuncture points were stimulated and were thought to be effective:

•    Gall bladder points 1, 14 and 37
•    Bladder points 1, 2, 18 and 23
•    Stomach points 2 and 40
•    Extra point taiyang.

In practice, your acupuncturist will customize a special treatment protocol that will address your specific health case. Thus, the acupuncturist may choose points different from those mentioned above depending on the type of macular degeneration you are experiencing.  How the acupuncturist would be able to tell the type of macular degeneration you were experiencing is also interesting, as they would be in no position to observe the back of the eye to tell – they would have to rely solely on the patient’s or optometrists report.

In our opinion even though acupuncture is not likely to hurt, it is far from a proven treatment, therefore should only be performed in conjunction with proven treatments.

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