Retinitis pigmentosa is a condition that causes vision impairment among 1 in 4,000 people. As we depend on vision for so many things, losing eyesight is devastating. Fortunately, here at Life Balance Clinic, patients have access to acupuncture as an effective treatment of retinitis pigmentosa in Illinois.
Retinitis pigmentosa commonly begins in childhood. The first symptom is typically difficulty seeing at night. Over time, peripheral vision narrows, leading to “tunnel vision” where patients may only see anything in the center of what was their vision field. This remaining vision is typically blurry and can be affected by flashing, swirling, or shimmering false lights.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disorder, with up to 300 possible genetic mutations responsible for its development. Some are more common than others, so medical research on correcting these harmful gene variations is a time-consuming process. All of these mutations cause the loss of light-sensing cells in the retina, the inside of your eye that detects light and color. The loss of light-sensing cells also destroys color-sensing cells, because they produce a substance that protects both cell types.
Conventional retinitis pigmentosa therapy is limited to vitamin A supplementation and a gene therapy for one specific mutation. Vitamin A supplements only slow the rate of vision loss by 17%, and gene therapy only stops further worsening and provides relatively mild improvement in some cases.
At Life Balance Clinic, Dr. Vadim Dekhtyar, DACM uses the AcuNova system of acupuncture as an effective retinitis pigmentosa treatment. AcuNova uses newly-discovered points on the hands and feet which may be more effective than whole-body acupuncture. It does more than simply slowing vision loss and can be used alongside any current or future intervention because of its safety. In fact, the AcuNova system can improve vision in retinitis pigmentosa by an average of 7.4 degrees, providing a significant boost to ability and quality of life.
What does the other evidence say? In 2014, a Johns Hopkins study found that six out of 12 patients enjoyed significant improvement after acupuncture. Three out of nine who had a stimulus threshold test showed a 13-53 times greater sensitivity in full-field stimulus threshold sensitivity, too.
Another study of 23 people tested the benefits of 10 acupuncture sessions. Here, uncorrected vision improved from 9% to 10.5% (20/222 to 20/190), and best-corrected vision improved from 23% to 30% (20/85 to 20/67). This means uncorrected vision increased by 16.7% and best-corrected vision by over 25%. A smaller trial found that electroacupuncture or other electrostimulation (which works in a similar mechanism to acupuncture) can improve visual function compared to a control group. Two of seven patients given electroacupuncture improved, but all in the control group worsened. These benefits were tied to the protective effect of optimizing blood flow to the eye.
If you have retinitis pigmentosa, acupuncture can help, so there’s no need to despair. As one of the few practitioners in the United States trained by Dr. Boel, the founder of AcuNova, Dr. Vadim Dekhtyar, DACM is sought out by many patients specifically requesting AcuNova treatment. To learn more, contact our acupuncture practice located in Glenview, IL.