While many studies have looked at eye-specific and eye-unspecific acupuncture methods’ effect on intraocular pressure (IOP), a new study has examined their effects on ocular blood flow (OBF), given therapeutic options to treat OBF alterations in glaucoma patients have gained more and more interest recently.

In a prospective randomized study, the team assigned 56 primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) patients to an eye-specific or eye-unspecific acupuncture treatment, and measured blood flow parameters before and 10 minutes after. While pulsatile ocular blood flow increased significantly after the eye-specific acupuncture treatment from 5.6±4.3µL/min to 6.7±4.9µL/min, there was no significant change in parapapillary retinal blood flow, retinal vessel diameter, systemic blood pressure or IOP after treatment in the two groups.

One specific limitation to the study was the use of a young patient group (mean ages of 50.5±9.82 and 48.7±9.7). The team used only subjects without serious systemic diseases, even though the incidence of glaucoma rises with increasing age.

Researchers conclude that larger sample sizes and more standardized, homogenous and repeated acupuncture regimens are needed to provide adequate comparability and to evaluate the validity of acupuncture as a potential complimentary therapy in glaucoma patients.

Leszczynska A, Ramm L, Spoerl E, et al. The short-term effect of acupuncture on different ocular blood flow parameters in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma: a randomized, clinical study. Clin Ophthalmol2018;12:1285-91.