degeneration (MD), is a disease that makes it difficult for
sufferers to read or even
clearly identify people's faces. Macular degeneration is also
the leading cause of partial or total blindness in people over age
degeneration affects about
13 million people in this country and, until recently, there have
been very few non-surgical treatments available in the United
Gail Brent, a
licensed acupuncturist based in San Diego, is one of a handful of
practitioners who has been trained in a relatively new procedure
called Micro Acupuncture.
In 1984, Danish
physician Dr. Freddy Dahlgren, along with Dr. Per Otte, conducted
research that ultimately resulted in the discovery of Micro
Acupuncture, a procedure that successfully improved eye health
for those suffering from eye diseases such as MD, glaucoma,
cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy.
and Dahlgren have treated over
5,000 patients in Europe using Micro Acupuncture.
Otte has since moved to
the United States and opened a clinic in Hot Springs Village,
According to his
statistics, 98 percent of people who are treated for
degeneration with Micro
Acupuncture may see a marked improvement in their vision.
Macular Degeneration - Definition
So what exactly
is macular degeneration?
The Macular Degeneration Foundation, a
charitable medical research and educational organization, describes
it this way, Your
retina contains an extraordinary photosensitive
array of cells that line the back of your eye. The light falling
onto these cells in the retina is transformed into electrical
signals that are transmitted to the brain centers that process and
concentrated collection of photosensitive cells in your retina, including
those that enable critical color and fine detail vision, are found
in the Bulls-Eye center zone in an area called the macula.
degeneration is the name given to that group of diseases that causes
sight-sensing cells in the macular zone of the retina to malfunction
or lose function and results in debilitating loss of vital central
or detail vision.
There are two
types of macular
degeneration, wet and dry.
Most people develop the dry type. Yellowish
deposits called drusen accumulate beneath the retina causing it to
lose some of its function and causing the macula to lose sensitivity
degeneration rarely results in total blindness. Wet
macular degeneration, also referred to as choroidal
neovascularization, subretinal neovascularization, exudative or
disciform degeneration, affects about 10 percent of those with MD
and is more severe.
It is caused by
the growth of new blood vessels under the macula.
When the blood vessels leak, they
cause nearby cells to weaken resulting in the destruction of nerve
tissue. At first,
vision is distorted and blurred. Eventually, sometimes in just
a matter of weeks, total or partial blindness occurs.
Brent, who has
been in practice for six years, is certified by Otte to perform
Micro Acupuncture treatments.
When a patient sees Brent for MD, they
are first given a visual acuity test and then a visual field scan
that determines the amount of damage to the macula.
The test is painless and does
not require dilation eye drops.
Using a visual
field scanning machine, Brent has the patient focus on a central
point while lights, varying in intensity, are flashed on a screen
inside the machine. This
test produces a map of the
patient's vision that allows Brent to assess the level of
degeneration in the macula. From
here, she can determine the level of treatment
I don't use the
machine for diagnosis. The results are used as a reference point
from which to start, Brent said.
points for eye diseases outlined by the Micro Acupuncture procedure
are located in the palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet and in the
forehead. Each treatment lasts about 20 minutes.
The first phase of the procedure
consists of five treatments and then the patient is re-evaluated by
doing another visual field scan.
treatments, if there is any [positive] change [in the visual field
scan], then I know I can help the patient, Brent explained.
Once a patient
has completed the first phase of the procedure and has noticed an
improvement in his or her vision, treatment continues until progress
plateaus or the patient is satisfied with the level of improvement
and is ready to stop. Brent cautions that Micro Acupuncture
is not a cure.
However, she is
quick to note that when the procedure is effective, it improves
the vision and prevents further degeneration. It
is so rewarding for me to see a patient¹s quality of life improve.
L.Ac., can be reached at 619-276-3661. For more information on Micro
Acupuncture visit www.microacupuncture.com