• Natalie Lo

Could acupuncture actually work to cure glaucoma?

Would you stick needles into your eyes as a treatment? Believe it or not, acupuncture, a form of traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body, has been used as a treatment for glaucoma. Glaucoma is one of the world’s most prevalent eye diseases and is a leading cause of blindness in adults. Though it sounds strange, lowering the pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure, or IOP) and simultaneously increasing ocular blood flow through acupuncture is a proven treatment for glaucoma, and people have been using acupuncture as a method to lower IOP.


Image: https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/acupuncture/5-things-to-know-about-cosmetic-acupuncture


Researchers studied the effect of acupuncture on the IOP of glaucoma patients, with both regular and electroacupuncture (acupuncture where small electric waves are sent through the needle). The study found that the IOP was reduced 60 minutes after acupuncture was performed, which according to the researchers who published this study, clearly indicates that acupuncture can be used to treat glaucoma.


The validity of the above statement has been called into question by countless across the globe. As is the case with various other forms of traditional medicines, acupuncture’s effectiveness is highly contested among Western opthamologists. A review of these claims by the Cochrane Review states that it is impossible to draw reliable conclusions about the effectiveness of acupuncture on glaucoma for several reasons. Firstly, the treatment differs from person to person; for example, what type of needle is used, what length of time it remains in the eye for and more. Additionally, due to ethical considerations imposed by many North American and European countries, we cannot compare this method of treatment to the standard treatment of care in countries in which the standard treatment has been established; traditional (e.g. non naturopathic) medical providers would not test out eye acupuncture on patients.


Overall, whether acupuncture is a method that you would like to try in an attempt to relieve glaucoma is a personal choice; some may be disgusted and scared of the unconventional technique, while others may be willing to embrace it.


Sources: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2020/7208081/

https://www.cochrane.org/CD006030/EYES_acupuncture-treatment-people-glaucoma

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