Background: With the understanding of the immune inflammatory response in the pathogenesis of dry eyes, and the limitations of widely used artificial tears and numerous pharmaceuticals and methods to promote tear secretion, clinicians pay more attention to the therapies that can promote tear secretion actively. Acupuncture treatment for dry eye may meet this requirement.
Objective: To observe the clinical efficacy of acupuncture treatment on dry eye and the effects on duration, and to examine the mechanisms of acupuncture in treating patients with dye eyes.
Design, setting, participants and interventions: The study was performed at Department of Ophthalmology, Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine from August 2010 to May 2011. Patients with the primary diagnosis of dry eye were enrolled. Sixty-five patients were randomly divided into treatment group and control group, and were given 3 weeks of acupuncture treatment or artificial tear therapy respectively.
Main outcome measures: The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to detect the lactoferrin content of the tears before and after treatment. In order to evaluate the efficacy of the treatment methods, the Schirmer I test and break-up time were also measured.
Results: Compared with before treatment, the lactoferrin content in the tears of patients in the treatment group increased, break-up time was prolonged and the result of the Schirmer I test showed improvement after 3 weeks of treatment. The indexes mentioned above did not change in the control group after treatment. There were no significant differences in tear lactoferrin and Schirmer I test between one week after treatment and after 3-week treatment in the treatment group, but break-up time was significantly shortened. The result of Schirmer I test in the treatment group was significantly higher than that in the control group one week after treatment.
Conclusion: Acupuncture can increase tear lactoferrin level, extend tear film break-up time and promote tear secretion in patients with dry eye in a time-limited trial. With the end of treatment, the effect decreased.