While there is not a cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa, there are treatment options that have produced amazing results. One of those treatments is Acupuncture. For the past 15 years, my high volume practice in New Jersey has been helping hundreds of patients restore vision that they didn’t think was possible.
We created this in-depth Retinitis Pigmentosa and acupuncture treatment guide to help you decide if this is the best Retinitis Pigmentosa treatment option for you.
If you would like even more information about RP and acupuncture, we would like to invite you to download our free 60 minute Q&A audio where I answered over 50 questions about the treatment. You can even submit a question for me to answer as well if like.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- 1 When to Start Treatment
- 2 Treatment Concerns
- 3 Standard Test’s
- 4 Typical Acupuncture Treatment Plan
- 5 Long Term Treatment Results
- 6 When Acupuncture Doesn’t Work
- 7 Treatment Risk Factors
- 8 Acupuncture vs Laser Acupuncture Success Rate
- 9 Herbal and Supplemental Strategies
- 10 Acupuncture vs Supplementation
- 11 Cost of Treatment
- 12 Covered By Insurance?
- 13 What to do Next
- 14 Comments
When to Start Treatment
If is important that you decide sooner than later. In many cases, once you lose some vision, it’s gone. It’s harder to work with dead tissue or run the risk of damanaging your fibrosis nerve tissue so the sooner the better. Prevention is very important in this case.
We have found patients come to us with certain concerns about Acupuncture treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa. Typically, it starts with their physician telling them that there is nothing they can do about their situation and they will go blind. That’s it.
What happens then is they start believing what they hear and don’t bother doing anymore research or very little about other RP treatment options. Sometimes we have found their family isn’t very supportative as well which doesn’t help the situation. They may not fully understand the process or believe it works either.
Lastly, some people have religious beliefs that impact their decision to seek treatment.
Some people just decide that this is their fate and accept that they are going blind reagrdless of the proof we show them. We try to encourage and educate people about the treatment but we have found that the best option for us is to let people work it out on their own.
- Visual field testing
- Contrast sensitivity
- Color vision testing
- Visual acuity,
- ERG testing
- Dark adaptation tests (we found to be the most significant improvement with our research we did at Johns Hopkins)
Typical Acupuncture Treatment Plan
Most people who contact us, already have been diagnosed with RP, ushers syndrome or something like it. There is an obvious dark adaptation or something like that.
First, we want to establish a baseline so we do preliminary vision testing.
Next we ‘ll do five days of treatment which takes place twice per day usually. This involves using using acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, micro acupuncture and laser acupuncture. We also add supplements to the program to help with the process.
After five days, we retest. We are looking for a measurable response. A objective and a subjective response. The patient let’s us know if they see improvements and/or we have aa measurable response either on the visual field or a contrast sensitivity. If we do not see a positive indicator, we do not continue treatment.
If there is a positive response, we continue treatment the second week or when the patient would like to schedule again. Typically a patient comes 2-3 times per year. Some patients feel going 5-6 times per year works for them although we do not suggest this for most patients. We recommend 3 times per year the first year as that is the most important time when we see the most nerve regeneration occur.
Long Term Treatment Results
One of the benefits of specializing in helping Retinitis Pigmentosa patients restore their vision over the past 12-15 years is patients that I saw in their twenties are now in their thirties and are still living functional lives (even driving). This isn’t suppose to happen. They should be blind by now with seeing eye dogs. They meet with their doctor and their doctor is as surprised as they are.
In some patients, we see little dips that go back and forth a little bit. When results are achieved, we find that they last 3-6 months and sometimes up to 12 months.
When Acupuncture Doesn’t Work
We have an 80-85% success rate with our patients. However, in some cases, acupuncture treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa does not work. Most of the time, I know before someone comes into my office and other times there is just no rhyme or reason. Here are some times when acupuncture treatment doesn’t seem to work. They are mostly physical issues as you will see.
- Traumatic injuries such as a destroyed retina or optic nerve
- Extreme smoke damage (A fireman that was involved in 911 came to see me and he had severe smoke damage)
- Scar tissue
- Congenital issues
- chemical toxicity
- Severe brain damage – If the signals don’t reach the brain to alert it, there can’t be a measurable response
Treatment Risk Factors
The only two risks that can happen with this treatment is possibly a little bruising if you do not have a well-trained practitioner or that the procedure does not work for you. That is it!
Speaking to the latter, we find that about 80-85 percent of our patients respond favorably to the treatment meaning their vision is better after the treatment.
Acupuncture vs Laser Acupuncture Success Rate
I have found laser acupuncture to be just as effective as acupuncture but I would say it depends on the person as well.
One obvious benefit to using a laser is that it is needle free and pain free.
Children and some adults who were once scared to try acupuncture, have no problem with the laser treatment. I typically start off patients with acupuncture.
If someone has an extreme condition, I will use both so we can give them all we got.
There are not many doctors that use laser acupuncture because it is actually a fairly new procedure, especially using the light needle. The machine is very expensive as well. I decided to purchase one for my practice because I feel it is worth it to my patients.
Herbal and Supplemental Strategies
We suggest different supplements for different conditions but here is a list that I suggest for my patients.
- Blueberry extract
Acupuncture vs Supplementation
What the acupuncture seems to do, based on our research is it increases blood flow to the eyes. Research has shown that through an ocular Doppler. We also know that it stimulates the visual cortex which is the part of the brain in the back that lights up, that interprets the messages. Basically, we have a light image that hits the eye and the eyes will look like a camera. It’s the brain that actually sees. So, the brain lights up and the acupuncture will stimulate the visual process.
We also have seen documented stimulation of the optic nerve, the photoreceptor cells in the eye which is the retina, the macular so on and so forth. We also believe that it can increase the cellular energy output in the form of ATP in the mitochondria which are the cells if you guys remember back to cell biology in high school. This is little parts of the cells called the mitochondria, what they do is they produce energy in which we call the ATP.
Now, that’s critical. In RP, that system seems to break down. It’s called the mitochondrial dysfunction. And that’s one of the big issues that occur with RP. In some other eye conditions too, we need to know what causes that but that’s kind of like the mid marker of what happens.
The acupuncture handles all that stuff. It increases blood flow, regulates the ATP mitochondrial function and stimulates the nerve and the brain, in the eyes, in the optic nerve and the retina. So it’s more of a stimulus and increased blood flow.
The underlying condition can be metabolic, it can be autoimmune or it can be chronic inflammatory. In non-RP, which is non-genetic like rod-cone dystrophy, there could be microbial infections in the body or toxicity issues and other things that affects the vision that mimic the genetic RP.
So we use herbs and supplements to really address those things to control that. For example if there’s more circulatory issues, we’re going to use Chinese herbs and supplements to really help improve the circulation. If there’s more inflammation, we’re going to use the Chinese herbs to help regulate that.
In addition to that, we use eye nutrients. A lot of people will take things like preservation or eye formula nutrients like Vitamin A, Lutein, Zeaxanthin and B- complex. These are eye food supplements. We use acupuncture in some of these therapies – eye exercises or acupressure – to increase the blood flow to the eye. Now, we need to nourish the eye. The eyes are like a little person. It needs food. It needs air. It need oxygen. It needs to breathe and it needs to eliminate.
If the blood vessels are constricted and there’s so much junk built up in the eye, you’re going to have impaired blood flow and you’re not going to get the nutrition into the eye. If the eye does not receive nutrition, it’s going to break down and degenerate. And that’s part of what happens, starvation of the retina.
Again, the Chinese herbs and the supplements really address the nutritional aspect and also manage the underlying issue where the acupuncture really works towards stimulating the eye, increasing the blood vessels, stimulating the nerves and the ATP energy function.
Cost of Treatment
There are very few acupuncturist in the world who specialize in eye diseases. The treatment ranges from as low as $1,000 to as high as $20,000 for a week of treatment. Right now there is no average investment. It really does vary on which doctor you decide to go see. Feel free to call our office to get a list of current treatment prices.
This treatment is considered a tax deduction per medical expense here in the US.
Covered By Insurance?
We encourage our patients to get an insurance policy that covers acupuncture. We have a lot of patients now who are getting reimbursed.
As of right now, Medicare does not cover acupuncture. We have found that some secondary insurance has been picked up after being denied by Medicare. Make sure and ask your agent about secondary insurance.
What to do Next
I hope you found our Retinitis Pigmentosa and acupuncture treatment guide to be helpful.
You may have decided that this treatment option isn’t for you. Great! At least you know.
If you have decided that you would like to explore this treatment further but still have questions, I would like to invite you to call my office (908) 818-0701 and schedule a free 15 minute consultation. Nancy will take great care of you and get you on my calendar.
I am one of only six practitioners in the world performing micro acupuncture so this is my specialty and my passion. Some say I am the best retinitis pigmentosa doctor that they have ever seen. I would like to see what I can do to help you.
I ask that if you decide to book a consultation with me, that you are able to travel to New Jersey to be treated by me if you decide that this is the direction you would like to go. My schedule is very limited and want to leave room for patients that are ready to receive help right now.
My number again is (908) 818-0701.