Cross Your Heart, Hope to See, Stick a Needle in Your Eye

Study suggests acupuncture might help older children with lazy eye

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Acupuncture could be effective for treating amblyopia (lazy eye) in some older children, according to a report in Archives of Ophthalmology.

Correcting these types of refractive errors in children with glasses or contact lenses has been shown to be effective for those 3 to 7 years old, but only about 30 percent of older children from 7 to 12 respond to visual correction alone.

For the study, 43 randomly selected children with amblyopia were assigned to the acupuncture group and received five treatments per week targeting five acupoints, where a needle is inserted for the therapy. The other 45 children had their good eye patched for two hours a day and were instructed to do at least one hour of near-vision activities (reading, typing, etc.) with the so-called lazy eye.

After 15 weeks, vision acuity (determined by the lines you read during an eye exam) improved by pproximatey 1.8 lines in those who were patched and by 2.3 lines in those who underwent acupuncture. Of the patching group, an improvement of two lines or more occurred in 28 (or 66.7 percent) of the patients, while 31 (or 75.6 percent) of those in the acupuncture group showed improvement by two lines or more. Even more startling, lazy eye was considered resolved in 16.7 percent of patched eyes and 41.5 percent of eyes in the acupuncture group.

"Although the treatment effect of acupuncture appears promising, the mechanism underlying its success as a treatment for amblyopia remains unclear," wrote the authors.

About 0.3 percent to 5 percent of individuals worldwide have amblyopia. About a third to one-half of these cases is caused by differences in the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness between the two eyes, a condition known as anisometropia.

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Review Date: 
December 14, 2010
Last Updated:
December 14, 2010