By Li Zheng and Steven Zhou

Glaucoma is a vision-impairing condition that can cause blindness. It does so by damaging the optic nerve, which connects the eyes to the brain and allows us to receive visual information that is then processed and interpreted. Damage to the optic nerve is caused by high fluid pressure inside the eye and is known as intraocular pressure. These high pressure levels are caused by improper production or drainage of fluid inside our eyes, called the aqueous humor. However, what causes glaucoma?

Causes of and contributors to glaucoma include:

  • Having a family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • High and low blood pressure
  • Eye injuries
  • Use of steroids
  • Belonging to certain ethnic groups that are prone to glaucoma like African-Americans, Russians, Hispanics, and those of Scandinavian descent.
  • Poor circulation around the eyes

Common symptoms that can indicate the onset of glaucoma include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches
  • Eye pain
  • Seeing rainbow halos around lights
  • Seeing spots of light
  • Nausea and vomiting

Types of glaucoma:

There are four common types of glaucoma and eight types of secondary glaucoma.

The most common type of glaucoma found in the United States is "open-angle glaucoma”. This type accounts for 90% of all glaucoma cases found in the US. It is caused due to the trabecular meshwork being relatively blocked.

The other 3 common types of glaucoma are angle-closure glaucoma, normal tension glaucoma, and congenial glaucoma.

How to slow down the progress of glaucoma and prevent it:

Once the majority of the optic nerves are damaged, it will be hard to improve your vision. Therefore, early detection of setting in of glaucoma is very critical and crucial.

Though different allopathic treatments are available to treat emergency and advanced stages of glaucoma, acupuncture has proven itself to be very effective in slowing the progress of glaucoma by lowering the eye pressure and improving the circulation to the eyes and optic nerves.

How can acupuncture be used to treat glaucoma?

Acupuncture involves the use of ultra-thin needles inserted into relevant points on the body, which releases the flow of blocked energy to specific parts of the body, including the eyes, retinas, optic nerves, digestive system, and nervous system.

Various studies and research have proven that acupuncture, used in combination with Chinese herbal therapy, delivers promising and positive results for glaucoma patients. It reduces eye pressure, energizes the optic nerves, and restores proper ocular fluid flow, leading to patients experiencing improved vision.

Acupuncturists will utilize patients' health backgrounds to design individualized treatment plans, which can bring optimized results for vision improvement and eye health.

Owing to its rate of success, Western doctors now prescribe acupuncture treatment as an effective standalone or complementary treatment for glaucoma. When acupuncture treatments are combined with eye drops, patients can avoid dry eye, blurry vision, and eye infection.

The current pandemic has led us to spend more time in front of screens. It is important that we relax our neck muscles and restore blood flow to the eyes to prevent glaucoma, macular degeneration, and dry eyes. If you must spend six hours of time per day in front of a computer, it is strongly recommended to have at least one acupuncture treatment every two weeks to help prevent eye problems.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Li Zheng is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. She has 26 years of clinical experience. She holds a PhD in neuroscience from the US and is a Harvard Medical School-trained researcher and a professor at the New England School of Acupuncture. Here she is sharing information about how acupuncture can help to treat glaucoma.