Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, especially in older children with a poor response to the common patching therapy, a new study says.
Amblyopia, a state of miscommunication between the brain and the eyes, is characterized by vision problems in one eye. About 5 percent of individuals around the world suffer from lazy eye, considered as the most common cause of poor vision in children.
According to the study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, visual acuity with eyeglasses improved in more than 66 percent of the children receiving two hours of daily patching therapy, compared with more than 75 percent of the acupuncture group.
''These results suggest that the treatment effect of acupuncture is equivalent to that of patching for anisometropic amblyopia in older children," said lead researcher So Dennis Lam.
Chinese researchers failed to explain the mechanism through which acupuncture improved lazy eye. They, however, suggested that the treatment may have affected the regional blood flow in these children.
Previous studies have shown that acupuncture increases the blood flow in the brain and eye, stimulating the release of retinal nerve growth factors and subsequently leading to metabolic changes in the central nervous system.
While the findings of the present study have surprised many ophthalmologists, they still do not recommend parents to swap patches for acupuncture. Many of them believe further researches are needed to confirm these results.