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Myopia and Refractive Errors: Acupuncture Treatment in China

In China, acupuncture has been widely used for treating refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism) in children and adolescents, with a wealth of experience accumulated. Since 1964, plum-blossom needle therapy has been applied for myopia, with electro-plum blossom needles and auricular acupuncture developed post-1971.

Acupuncture points around the eye socket, such as Zanzhu, Yuyao, Jingming, Qingming, Taiyang, Sibai, can be directly needled. Points in distant areas related to the eyes, like Hegu, Waiguan, Taichong, Guangming, can also be used. After obtaining qi, needles are retained for 20 minutes, followed by a massage of tender points or acupoints around the eyes for several minutes, ideally inducing tearing. Additionally, plum-blossom needle tapping is used on local reflex areas around the eyes, about 20-30 times per point with moderate intensity. These treatments are typically done daily or every other day, with 10-15 sessions constituting one course of treatment.

For patients unable to attend frequent sessions, auricular acupuncture with embedded needles or acupressure can be utilized, targeting ear points like Eye, Liver, Kidney, Eye1, or Eye2, alternating between sides every 3-4 days or even weekly.

Acupuncture for treating myopia in children and adolescents has proven effective, with reported success rates ranging from 76% to 99%. While many patients experience improved vision during treatment, maintaining these results post-treatment can be challenging, with some reverting to pre-treatment vision levels, particularly those who already wear glasses. To enhance effectiveness, it's generally advised that patients not wear glasses during treatment.

Some patients continue to improve after treatment cessation, often due to their persistence in self-massage of acupoints. Regardless of the acupuncture method used, massage of acupoints around the eyes should begin during treatment.

Methods to enhance treatment effectiveness include promoting needle sensation along the meridian, combining acupuncture with traditional vision exercises, and laser acupuncture.

There are many classic acupoints around the eyes and several new ones close to the eye socket. When choosing points, inducing needle sensation to the eye area or maintaining longer stimulation (like embedded auricular acupuncture or acupressure) is ideal. Local acupoints near the eyes generally yield better results than distant points. Shallow needling in the inner margin reflex area and around the orbital area is usually sufficient for effective stimulation. Strong stimulation leads to significant ocular muscle reflexes without the need for deep needling. After obtaining needle sensation, needles are not retained, followed by 1-3 minutes of acupoint massage.

For needle-phobic children, finger massage on sensitive points along the orbital wall or rim can replace needling. During massage, precise location of acupoints close to the eye socket is less critical. The most sensitive area, like Zanzhu near the upper orbital wall, can be stimulated inward and upward with fingertips. This often produces significant tenderness and tearing, with immediate vision improvement in many patients. The patient's response to acupressure can also predict the prognosis: immediate vision improvement often indicates better treatment outcomes. Difficulty in finding tender points or lack of tearing despite pressure suggests a less favorable response.

To consolidate treatment effects, patients should be taught daily self-massage of eye area acupoints. The key to preventing or treating myopia lies in accurately locating tender points and providing sufficient stimulation. Simple light strokes around the eye socket are ineffective.


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