Acupuncture for Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis (ON) is a condition that affects the optic nerve, the bundle of nerve fibers that transmits visual information from your eye to your brain.  Optic neuritis is marked as inflammation or swelling of this nerve.

Those with optic neuritis may experience vision loss or a vision decrease that happens in usually one eye, as a result of the inflammation.  The vision loss may sometimes be accompanied by pain in the eye as well.  The vision loss may occur in either the central or peripheral fields of vision, and there may also be flashing sensations in the eye as well. (1)

What are the most common causes of optic neuritis?

Optic neuritis can sometimes be an indicator for multiple sclerosis (MS), as this condition will damage the nerves in the brain and optic nerve.  Other causes may be an autoimmune condition such as lupus or neuromyelitis optica.  Some infections have been shown to cause optic neuritis as well, including mumps, Lyme disease, meningitis, or shingles.  More research needs to be done on the causes of this condition, and it is important to consult with your physician or ophthalmologist. (2)

Standard Western Medical Treatments

Some cases of optic neuritis resolve on their own as inflammation goes down.  Some doctors monitor the condition as it progresses to see if improvement happens gradually.  Some other cases have shown to respond to treatments with intravenous steroids, or combined with steroids taken orally.  These steroids are introduced in order to decrease the inflammation. (3)

How can Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture treat Optic Neuritis?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) seeks to focus on the underlying causes which first lead to the inflammation and impairment of the optic nerve in the first place.  Typically, inflammation occurs from other sources, and our body already has defenses to deal with inflammation.  In TCM, we seek to address any underlying organ pathologies which may be attributing to the lack in control of the anti-inflammatory pathway.

In TCM, we view the Liver as playing a major part in inflammation, as well as in nourishment of the eye.  If the function of the Liver is impaired, we view it as an overflow of “fire” in the body, and may lead to issues such as optic neuritis, or other inflammatory conditions.  This may also be complicated by digestive issues which do not adequately provide the proper nourishment needed in order to “douse the fire”.

Treatments are aimed to decrease inflammation both in the eyes and in the body.  This is accomplished through the combination of herbal treatments and acupuncture, by increasing blood circulation to the retina and optic nerve, the body’s natural anti-inflammatory system may help to reduce the inflammation and work to restore normal vision.

How can Acupuncture help treat optic neuritis?

Acupuncture is able to deliver a targeted treatment to the eyes, retina, and optic nerve.  One of the main mechanisms for the efficacy of acupuncture treatment is that it is able to reduce inflammation by increasing blood circulation to very specific regions.  As the main pathology of optic neuritis is inflammation, we have seen some very encouraging results in our patients with this condition.  When combined with proper herbal therapy, supplementation, and vitamins, we are able to guide the proper flow of nutrient-rich blood to the affected optic nerve in order to naturally reduce inflammation.

Please note that acupuncture needles, DO NOT go into the eye.  We often use points around the eyebrow and cheekbone area, and are usually accompanied with other points in the hands/feet/arms/legs.  These supplementary points are able to stimulate other anti-inflammatory processes, and increase Liver function.

For more information on how we help with degenerative eye diseases, please visit our page on How Natural Eye Regeneration Works.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms brought on by optic neuritis, please do not hesitate to contact us to see if this treatment is right for you.





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