That works for you.
Whether you have Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, floaters, Stargardt's Disease, Rod Cone Dystrophy, or another eye related condition, the Arkansas Acupuncture Center is here to help. Our facility is set in an environment that provides a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere for patients receiving treatments for their eye conditions. Patients are treated in groups, which creates a meeting place where they can trade stories and lend support. This is especially important for those coming to the clinic for the first time. Returning patients will sometimes plan ahead and schedule treatments with people they’ve met in past treatment sessions, creating an atmosphere of fellowship.
For patients who have never received treatments, the first day begins with a visual field scan and acuity tests to establish a baseline for each patient’s level of vision at that point in time. This is followed by a series of treatments for two days or three days, receiving three to four treatments each day, a total of six to eight treatments during this time.
The patient then undergoes a second series of tests to observe results obtained during the first treatment course. They continue treatments until they are finished, which can be anywhere from fourteen to thirty-four treatments given over a one to three week period. Because so many of the patients being treated are traveling from outside the area, treatments are intensive, sometimes up to four a day. Those who live close by often spread out their treatment course over two to four weeks.
Returning patients, those receiving ongoing therapy, generally receive treatments as needed, coming for treatment on average about once a year; sometimes more, sometimes less, undergoing the same intensive schedule of treatments offered to new patients.
Treatments vary among those with different eye conditions. No needles are placed in or around the eyes. Patients often wish to have other health conditions treated, but unless those conditions are related to their vision disorder, it is recommended that only those acupuncture points specific to the eye condition being treated are used.
The method used at the Arkansas Acupuncture Center for determining changes in the patient’s vision are subjective. The visual field test shows what the patient can see within 30 degrees of the visual field, or the central vision; vision that is usable to the patient. Acuity tests are used both to keep track of vision changes, but just as important, to determine the accuracy of the visual field test. If the acuity test does not “make sense” according to results of the visual field test, the visual field test is repeated.
To the right are samples of actual patients who are currently receiving treatment for Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa and glaucoma, and were duplicated here with the patient’s permission. Colors range from yellow to black. All shades of yellow represent normal or healthy vision; black shows no vision, or a blank spot in the central visual field.
The Plastic Bag Test
To understand what a patient with vision difficulty experiences, cut a Ziploc sandwich baggie in half so that you have only one sheet of plastic. Looking through a single sheet is what a patient may experience when green is present in the center of the scan. Fold the piece of plastic in half and you will see what the patient experiences when light red is covering the center. Fold again and you will see what it is like if there is dark red. Fold again for purple, then for black. At this point you can’t see anything through the plastic.
Although the plastic bag test is only a simplified representation of what a person with macular degeneration experiences, it give you an idea of what it would be like to be losing vision from this debilitating disease. It also allows the patient's family members to understand the visual field scan and to see what changes are taking place for the patient. In cases of macular degeneration, when there is a large dark spot in the center, even if the dark spot shrinks to half the original size, the patient still can't see. The scan shows actual changes in vision.
After a patient receives a series of treatments, ideally we see the colors lightening in the center; the black spot may shrink, or lighten to purple, then red. Red will often turn to green, and eventually to yellow.
In most cases the patient cannot retrieve all the vision they have lost, but most will benefit from receiving acupuncture treatments for the eyes. Much depends on how long they have had the disease, and what types of conventional interventions they have undergone; laser therapy, surgeries, etc. The patient must understand that each case is different and some will improve more than others. Some patients will improve vastly in the beginning of treatment; others will take more time, but most patients will gain some vision. Some patients cannot be helped, but these cases are not the norm.
Often a new patient will need more than a week of treatment to experience noticeable changes, needing to return to the clinic within four months for a second course. For example: take the case of a new patient who, after initial testing, has a black spot the size of a quarter in the center of the visual field, and after a week of treatment the spot is the size of a dime. Although the scan shows improvement, the patient still cannot see because no matter the size of the blind spot, their vision is compromised. In this case it takes more time and the patient is encouraged to return for further treatment.
The treatment offered at the Arkansas Acupuncture Center is not a cure, but a treatment that helps the eye heal from damage caused by the disease. In a degenerative eye disease, the tissue of the retina or optic nerve is not regenerating, therefore it is degenerating. All cells of the body regenerate on a regular basis, but when the cells stop regenerating due to a lack of proper circulation of blood, or there is some destructive force causing tissues damage, the cells degenerate. The goal of treatment is to establish better circulation of qi and blood, allowing the body to heal from the damage, helping they tissue to regenerate.