Acupuncture/ pressure

Benefits of acupuncture for treating lazy eye

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” is the loss of 1 eye’s ability to see details. It’s the most common cause of vision problems in children.

Researchers in Hong Kong and New York compared the effectiveness of 2-hour daily patching vs acupuncture in treating anisometropic (unequal refractive power of the eye) amblyopia in children.

First, the details.

  • 88 children with an amblyopic eye were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 16 weeks.
    • 2 hours of patching of the sound eye daily
    • 5 sessions of acupuncture weekly
  • All participants in our study received constant optical correction, plus 1 hour of near-vision activities daily, and were followed up at weeks 5, 10, 15, and 25.
  • The main outcome measure was the best corrected visual acuity in the amblyopic eye at 15 weeks — the best vision possible with spectacles.

And, the results.

  • The average best spectacle-corrected visual acuity of the amblyopic eye at 15 weeks improved by 1.83 and 2.27 lines in the patching and acupuncture groups, respectively.
    • After adjusting for the value recorded at the start of the study, this difference was significant.
  • The best spectacle-corrected visual acuity improved by 2 lines or more in 67% and 76% of eyes in the patching and acupuncture groups, respectively.
  • Amblyopia was resolved in 17% and 42% eyes in the patching and acupuncture groups, respectively.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Acupuncture produced equivalent treatment effect for anisometropic amblyopia, compared with patching, and was statistically superior.”

They would like to see more studies. However, they believe that acupuncture has the potentially to become an alternative treatment to occlusion (patch) therapy for amblyopia.

There are a few other non-English language studies (here), but the weight of the evidence isn’t conclusive.

12/14/10 20:52 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.