Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is abnormal visual development in one eye. Unequal signals from the eyes are sent to the brain until the brain chooses to focus on images from the stronger eye and ignore images from the weaker eye. Symptoms include eyes that turn in or out, eyes that appear not to work in tandem or poor vision and depth.
According to Friends For Sight, a Salt Lake City based society offering free vision screenings, amblyopia is almost 100 percent treatable if caught before age seven. Conventional medical treatment of amblyopia involves placing a patch over the strong eye, forcing the brain to accept images from the amblyopic eye. Generally, after a period of time the weak eye strengthens and the patch can be removed.
Recent research published in the August issue of Ophthalmology suggests that patching might not be the only effective treatment currently available. Scientists conducted a randomized, controlled, crossover study and demonstrated that acupuncture was as effective as patching in treating amblyopia.
Acupuncture is an ancient healing method that inserts needles in specific points along the body, called meridians, to stimulate a healing response. The beneficial effects of this process have also been seen in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), infantile colic, headache and nausea.
A patch over your child’s eye may seem more appealing than the insertion of needles, however, the needles used in acupuncture are not hollow and therefore do not break the skin. On the other hand, patches may be embarrassing to wear and children may be unwilling to wear the patch for the prescribed time.
This research offers hope to parents who before now had to rely on the patch for the treatment of amblyopia.