- Apr 9, 2006
I just heard about this yesterday while sitting in the WalMart auto-service waiting room. The whole village is excited about what this acupuncturist is doing. He's got people lined up to get his treatment. Hot Springs Village is a retirement community about 15 miles north of Hot Springs. I have not talked to any of the patients. Three people from the village were telling me about the treatment, although none of them were patients.
Macular Degeneration and Micro-Acupuncture
Macular degeneration (MD), is a disease that makes it difficult for sufferers to read or even clearly identify people's faces. Macular degeneration is also the leading cause of partial or total blindness in people over age 50.
Macular degeneration affects about 13 million people in this country and, until recently, there have been very few non-surgical treatments available in the United States.
Gail Brent, a licensed acupuncturist based in San Diego, is one of a handful of practitioners who has been trained in a relatively new procedure called Micro Acupuncture.
In 1984, Danish physician Dr. Freddy Dahlgren, along with Dr. Per Otte, conducted research that ultimately resulted in the discovery of Micro Acupuncture, a procedure that successfully improved eye health for those suffering from eye diseases such as MD, glaucoma, cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy.
Together, Otte and Dahlgren have treated over 5,000 patients in Europe using Micro Acupuncture. Otte has since moved to the United States and opened a clinic in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.
According to his statistics, 98 percent of people who are treated for macular degeneration with Micro Acupuncture may see a marked improvement in their vision.
Macular Degeneration - Definition
So what exactly is macular degeneration? The Macular Degeneration Foundation, a charitable medical research and educational organization, describes it this way, Your retina contains an extraordinary photosensitive array of cells that line the back of your eye. The light falling onto these cells in the retina is transformed into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain centers that process and interpret them.
The most concentrated collection of photosensitive cells in your retina, including those that enable critical color and fine detail vision, are found in the Bulls-Eye center zone in an area called the macula.
Macular degeneration is the name given to that group of diseases that causes sight-sensing cells in the macular zone of the retina to malfunction or lose function and results in debilitating loss of vital central or detail vision.
There are two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Most people develop the dry type. Yellowish deposits called drusen accumulate beneath the retina causing it to lose some of its function and causing the macula to lose sensitivity to light.
Dry macular degeneration rarely results in total blindness. Wet macular degeneration, also referred to as choroidal neovascularization, subretinal neovascularization, exudative or disciform degeneration, affects about 10 percent of those with MD and is more severe.
It is caused by the growth of new blood vessels under the macula. When the blood vessels leak, they cause nearby cells to weaken resulting in the destruction of nerve tissue. At first, vision is distorted and blurred. Eventually, sometimes in just a matter of weeks, total or partial blindness occurs.
Brent, who has been in practice for six years, is certified by Otte to perform Micro Acupuncture treatments. When a patient sees Brent for MD, they are first given a visual acuity test and then a visual field scan that determines the amount of damage to the macula. The test is painless and does not require dilation eye drops.
Using a visual field scanning machine, Brent has the patient focus on a central point while lights, varying in intensity, are flashed on a screen inside the machine. This test produces a map of the patient's vision that allows Brent to assess the level of degeneration in the macula. From here, she can determine the level of treatment required.
I don't use the machine for diagnosis. The results are used as a reference point from which to start, Brent said.
The acupuncture points for eye diseases outlined by the Micro Acupuncture procedure are located in the palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet and in the forehead. Each treatment lasts about 20 minutes. The first phase of the procedure consists of five treatments and then the patient is re-evaluated by doing another visual field scan.
After five treatments, if there is any [positive] change [in the visual field scan], then I know I can help the patient, Brent explained.
Once a patient has completed the first phase of the procedure and has noticed an improvement in his or her vision, treatment continues until progress plateaus or the patient is satisfied with the level of improvement and is ready to stop. Brent cautions that Micro Acupuncture is not a cure.
However, she is quick to note that when the procedure is effective, it improves the vision and prevents further degeneration. It is so rewarding for me to see a patient¹s quality of life improve.
Gail Brent, L.Ac., can be reached at 619-276-3661. For more information on Micro Acupuncture visit www.microacupuncture.com
Micro Acupuncture™ is a new procedure involving 48 newly discovered acupuncture points located in the hands and feet only, and not associated with any other acupuncture system. These points were discovered by Dr. Freddy Dahlgren, D.Ss., D.Ac., M.Ac.F., M.D. in Denmark in 1984 and researched by both Dr. Dahlgren and Per G. Otte, D.Sc., D.Ac., M.Ac.F., who now resides in the United States. More than 5,000 people had been treated with this procedure throughout Europe prior to 1992.
Micro Acupuncture™ is used for a variety of medical conditions. One condition that has been noted is improved vision for people suffering from Macular Degeneration and other vision disorders.
Each new patient treated for a vision disorder follows a series of treatments and tests. An initial vision field scan is performed before any treatments begin. The Chief Acupuncturist reviews both the scan and the personal information sheet during an initial interview. If she determines, based on her findings, that MicroAcupuncture™ will help, the patient is scheduled for a series of 5 to 6 treatments over a two day period. Acupuncture needles are placed in the hands and feet for twenty minutes during each treatment. Patients generally receive three treatments each day they are at the clinic.
After the first five or six treatments, a second visual field scan is performed to note any change. The Chief Acupuncturist reviews the second scan and determines if improvement in the vision is noted. In over ninety percent of cases reviewed patients show satisfactory improvement indicating that continued treatment will further improve the vision. These patients will receive three treatments each day for the remainder of the week, totaling 14 treatments over the course of 5 days. Many patients will stay for 2 weeks, receiving a total of 28 treatments for their first visit.
On average, one week of MicroAcupuncture™ treatments will be effective for approximately 4-6 months, 2 weeks of treatments may last about 1 year. It is suggested that patients return within that time frame for additional treatments, or whenever a decrease in vision is noticed.
Our clinical experience is that over 90% of patients treated show an improvement in their acuity or vision field. The remaining 10 percent may be actually stabilizing their vision, which in itself is a win. We have not yet noticed anyone who has actually lost vision due to the procedure. Patients with active hemorrhaging in the eye in a location not suitable for laser treatment are likely to benefit from MicroAcupuncture™ treatments. MicroAcupuncture™ can help minimize the leakage and improve the vision.
Reduced vision is a part of the aging process that can be temporarily halted, but not cured. MicroAcupuncture™ can help slow the aging process and its effects on vision, but it requires continual updating to maintain the level. Stress, nutrition and life style all affect the aging process and effectiveness of the treatments.
There are only a few doctors in the world who are performing this procedure which is approved by Medicina Alternative, a department of the World Health Organization. Otte is also certified by the Academia Sinica Peoples Republic of China.
The number of needles that are used for a vision treatment will vary from 12 to 19 per patient. Below are photographs of where the needles are placed.
Patients share 20 minute treatments, three times a day, in a comfortable lounge