What is retinitis pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of genetic disorders involving the breakdown of cells of the retina. The retina is located at the back of the eye; it contains light sensitive cells, photoreceptors, and other cell types. Early indications of retinitis pigmentosa include decreased night vision and decreased peripheral vision(the vision at the sides of your visual field). Later symptoms are vision loss, blindness.(1)
The reason retinitis pigmentosa starts out affecting night vision before progressing to diminishing vision at all times is that in the early stages of the disease, the rod cells of the retina are affected; these are the cells responsible for night vision. However, as the condition progresses, the cones are also affected, worsening the condition further.
Can acupuncture help?
Specialised ophthalmic acupuncture treatment can slow, halt and possibly reverse, the progression of this condition. One randomised controlled trial looked at the role of increased blood flow as a result of specialised acupuncture treatment which also gave rise to visual function improvements in some retinitis pigmentosa patients.(2) In the current absence of conventional treatments for retinitis pigmentosa, acupuncture treatments present an option of treatment available now, from an ophthalmic acupuncture trained acupuncturist.