Tuesday, May 09, 2006.
Little Rock - As we age, the gift of sight becomes more precious, and most would do whatever it takes to maintain the ability to see well. That's why a micro-acupuncture procedure in Hot Springs Village is becoming one of the most sought after in the country. The question is, does it work?
It's a science practiced thousands of years, but its mysteries are becoming the stuff of modern-day medicine, with new applications for acupuncture and claims of restoring lost sight.
(Cathe Post, Shreveport Louisiana) "I was legally blind, I couldn't do anything, couldn't read."
Eighty-two year old Cathe Post of Shreveport says her husband even bought her a huge screen television. Still, images appeared similar to blurred images.
(Post) "Couldn't see faces. I have to recognize actors by their voices and not their features."
Desperation led Post and many others to Arkansas Therapy Center, all hoping to reverse symptoms that lead to blindness. Most suffer from macular degeneration that affects the part of the retina responsible for central vision.
(Dr. Lizbeth Ryan, Arkansas Therapy Center) "It's called microacupuncture because of the small number of points, there are only 48 points in the system. They're all in the hands and feet."
Dr. Lizbeth Ryan, assistant to Dr. Perotte, the man who reportedly discovered the procedure 20 years ago, administers the weekly treatments, three times a day, strategically placing the needles, not directly in the eyes, but in the feet, hands and temple.
(Dr. Ryan) "We choose certain points that are specific to the eyes and how they work with the internal organs and how the internal organs nourish the eyes."
Patients range in age from 9 to 90. Seventy-seven year-old Bill Kimbrough of Indiana had an optic nerve problem.
(Bill Kimbrough, Indiana) "I can do just about anything now, but I have to come back every so often for a tune-up. Every so often, they'll start fading again."
Dr. Stephen Magie is legislative chair of Arkansas' Ophthalmological Association and is considered an expert in his field.
(Dr. Stephen Magie, Baptist Eye Center) "Only about seven of us in the state who practice vitro-retinal disease and macular degeneration is a big part of our practice."
Magie advocates traditional therapies and recommends vitamins and supplements, thermal laser treatments and medicine for his patients, saying 75 percent will see improvement. However, when it comes to acupuncture:
(Magie)"I have never recommended anyone for it. I doubt that I would."
(Magie) "I don't know how they claim to manipulate one area of the human body, on the hand, the feet, temple, ear or wherever to affect some other organ system."
In addition, Magie says this alternative medical approach hasn't been approved by the FDA.
(Magie) "Some of these patients have gone and had acupuncture and I've had patients report to me they felt like they were better, whether you can prove that scientifically, I think that's still open to question."
The treatments are about $60 each and Magie also has concerns about the cost for older patients. Acupuncture is a licensed procedure in Arkansas though no specific licensing is required for treating the eyes.
End of article.
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