Prospective Evaluation of Acupuncture as Treatment for Glaucoma

Am J Ophthalmol. 2015 Aug;160(2):256-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2015.04.033. Epub 2015 Apr 30.


Purpose: To evaluate acupuncture as treatment for glaucoma.

Design: Prospective double-masked randomized crossover study.

Methods: setting: Clinical practice.

Population: One eye per patient with primary open-angle glaucoma and stable intraocular pressure (IOP).

Intervention: Patients were randomized to receive 1 acupuncture series (12 sessions with either eye-related [eye-points] or non-eye-related [non-eye-points] acupoints) and then crossed over to receive the other series.

Outcome measures: IOP, blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), visual field (VF), optic disc and peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) measurements, compliance, and adverse reactions. Probability to detect 3 mm Hg IOP difference between series was 90%.

Results: Twenty-two patients volunteered and 11 (50.0%) completed the study; 8 (36.4%) did not complete treatment owing to changes of health, moving away, lack of transportation, or family crisis; and 3(13.6%) were withdrawn owing to needle sensitivity or IOP elevation (8 mm Hg) in the contralateral eye. After an acupuncture session, mean IOP increased slightly with both eye-points (from 12.9 ± 1.8 mm Hg to 13.6 ± 2.0 mm Hg, P = .019) and non-eye-points (from 13.0 ± 1.5 mm Hg to 13.5 ± 1.7 mm Hg, P = .073) series. HR, diurnal IOP, and BCVA showed no statistically significant changes after 12 sessions of either series. Systolic and diastolic BP were reduced after 12 sessions of non-eye-points series (P = .040, P = .002, respectively). Optic disc, RNFL, and VF showed no statistically significant changes.

Conclusions: Acupuncture has no overall effect on diurnal IOP or BCVA but may temporally increase the IOP immediately after a treatment session. BP is lowered by acupuncture with non-eye-points, but not with eye-points. Compliance and adverse event rates were low.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / diagnosis
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / physiopathology
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / pathology
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Tonometry, Ocular
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Fields