Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a hereditary disease that results in the loss of peripheral vision. The disease causes the progressive degeneration of structures, known as rods and cones, located in the retina. As the disease progresses, it typically establishes a person's peripheral vision. It often leaves the individual with clear central vision until the final stages of the disease. A novel treatment for RP is the use of acupuncture. Below are some common questions about the use of this technique in treating this disease.
1. When should acupuncture be started if you have been diagnosed with RP?
Retinitis Pigmentosa is a degenerative eye disease and will result in a steady declination in vision. Once that vision is lost it is very difficult, or impossible, to get it back. The sooner treatment is started, the sooner the degenerative effects of the disease can be halted and further loss of vision prevented.
2. How often do you repeat courses of treatment?
Treatment for RP consistors of two phases, an initial evaluation phase to determine an individual's response rate to acupuncture and ongoing maintenance. It is very important that an individual be examined before treatment begins, so that a baseline can be established by which progress can be evaluated. Measurable improvement in vision should be observed if the acupuncture techniques being used are effective for an individual. This initial phase typically involves five days of intensive therapy. If a measurable improvement is observed, then the initial intensive treatment can continue for another week. In the second phase, treatments are repeated 2 – 3 times per year, with each treatment lasting 1- 2 weeks.
3. What are the long term results?
Improvements in vision are typically observed within the first week of intensive therapy. These improvements can persist for 3 – 6 months, depending on the individual. Periodic treatments are required to maintain vision improvements.
4. What is the difference in only using acupuncture and using Chinese herbs with acupuncture?
Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are complementary techniques in the treatment of RP. Acupuncture helps to stop further degeneration by increasing blood flow to the eye and stimulating the optic nerve, photoreceptor cells, and visual centers of the brain. Traditional Chinese medicine uses herbs to treat under health problems. These can be metabolic, autoimmune, or problems with chronic inflammation.
5. Why does not acupuncture work in some cases?
Acupuncture works by sending signals to the brain to stimulate certain regions and provoke a specified response. If the brain has become damaged through physical injury or disease, it will not respond in the desired manner and will likely not produce the correct results. Severe emotional trauma and certain prescription drugs or narcotics will also prevent acupuncture from being effective.
6. Is intensive therapy more beneficial than long-term treatments and do people typically need more than one round of treatment?
Both intensive therapy and long-term treatments are effective. Intensive therapy will result in almost immediate results, that only require brief follow-up treatments to be maintained. Long-term treatments will produce regular results and must be continued on a regular basis to prevent further loss of vision.
7. What is the success rate of traditional acupuncture versus laser acupuncture?
Laser acupuncture is a new technique that uses light emitting diodes to produce low intensity lasers that replace needles. The effectiveness of this technique is comparable to traditional acupuncture, but may be more useful depending on the patient. Individuals with a phobia of needles may find laser treatment more comfortable.