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Home > Newsletters > November 2004 >

Ask the Doctor

Q: I have eye nystagmus since childhood. Does acupuncture help  stop congenital eye nystagmus and improve vision acuity?

A: Because congenital conditions are part of the constitution a person is born with, they can be more difficult to treat than other conditions.
However, constitutional conditions can often be greatly improved and symptoms eliminated, as pathogenic factors are reduced and the body strengthened. The degree of improvement varies by individual and the many factors affecting that individual’s health.

Acupuncture has been helpful to heal many eye conditions, and slow the progression of eye diseases including Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, and Glaucoma. Acupuncture is especially effective when combined with the other major components of Chinese Medicine: Chinese Herbs, Diet & Lifestyle adjustments, and Qi Gong exercise.

An acupuncturist would need to perform a thorough examination of your medical history, signs, and symptoms to determine your particular patterns of disharmony and appropriate treatment plan. However, the western diagnosis of nystagmus would fall in the category of “Internal Wind,” in Chinese medicine. Internal Wind is always associated with the Liver, as viewed by Chinese medicine. Because your condition is congenital, The Kidneys are also involved, as the Kidneys contain the root of your constitutional inheritance, called “Jing.” When the Yin and Jing of the Kidneys are insufficient, the body is not properly nourished, and the Yang can rise in excess and generate Internal Wind, which is characterized by tics, tremors, convulsions, deviated eyes or tongue, dizziness, numbness, or other forms of uncontrollable movement or paralysis. Western diagnoses like Parkinson’s disease and Bells Palsy, are other examples of what Chinese Medicine would call Internal Wind. The eyes themselves are associated with the Liver meridian as well, as a branch of the Liver meridian travels to the eye.
Therefore, healthy vision is very much related to the state of the Liver.

There are specific acupuncture points (and herbs, and exercises) that work to quell Internal Wind, heal eye disorders and improve vision. Points that address these imbalances would be used, along with others to address your coexisting patterns of disharmony. The body is like a mini-universe, and good health depends on the entire system functioning properly and in unison.
Your acupuncturist can be your partner in achieving this so that you heal as much as you can, help prevent the condition from worsening as you age, and promoting an increased sense of health, Vitality and ease.

Generally speaking, the longer a person has had a condition, the longer treatment takes. One clinical case study by Dr. Bernard Seif, SMC, EdD, NMD, describes a 35 year old individual with nystagmus for 3 years, possibly related to a structural brain problem he’d had for 30 years for which he had declined surgery. From the standpoint of Chinese Medicine, he had a number of signs and symptoms that suggested overall patterns of disharmony that needed to be addressed. Through a combination of acupuncture, Qi Gong, and other aspects of Chinese medicine, the patient came to see his situation as an “absence of balance in my being, rather than a structural problem with my brain.” He experienced improvement in the nystagmus from the first treatment. He received treatment once a month (due to time constraints) and did Qi Gong exercises as homework. After 2 ˝ years of treatment, the nystagmus was eliminated completely, even though the structural brain problem remained. Because you have had the western diagnosis of nystagmus your entire life, long-term treatment is recommended. I would suggest at least weekly treatments in the initial stages. Later, treatments could be spaced out a little more as the body begins to hold corrections on its own for longer periods of time. It is impossible to predict the speed or amount of improvement of the nystagmus, however, improvement is quite possible, and the many benefits of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine may make the long-term investment very worthwhile, especially if the approaches you have taken in the past have not provided sufficient help for your condition, or have been otherwise problematic.

About our Doctor:

Viveka S. Rucker, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., Dipl, C.H. practices Traditional Chinese Medicine in Woodland Hills, California. Her general practice includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, bodywork, and Qi Gong exercise. She also specializes in Facial Acupuncture Renewal. (818) 554-5418

This Month's Articles

November 2004
Volume 2, Number 7

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Recent Research

Ask The Doctor


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