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Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treatment for Macular Degeneration

By: Dr. Marc Grossman O.D. L.Ac.

The world is changing more rapidly than at any other time in human history. As our concepts of western medicine have shifted in recent years, today's public demands a more comprehensive approach from its health care providers. The reductionist method of referring each symptom to the domain of a particular specialist, isolated from the whole person, is being replaced slowly with more complementary forms of health care like acupuncture and Chinese medicine. We are beginning to look at each person as an integrated being. Health care providers now consider dietary preferences, exercise regimens, the types of relationships the person is engaged in, as well as the particular symptoms that brought him or her into treatment in determining treatment strategies.

I believe that eyesight is not an isolated phenomenon but is rooted in our totality. Our being includes our genetic makeup, the food we eat, our work environment as well as our belief systems about ourselves and our world. Each unique individual literally takes in the world through the senses, primarily vision. The way we see the world is, to some degree, a reflection of who we are. Our being is further reflected in the visual symptoms we manifest. Using the theories and practices of optometry, nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and herbs this article will give you an introduction to treating macular degeneration.


Macular degeneration is today's leading cause of irreversible blindness. By the year 2030, an estimated 20 million Americans will have been diagnosed with this disease. Although there is no effective treatment yet, natural remedies can go a long way in helping to prevent macular degeneration from progressing to the point of vision loss.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the slow deterioration of the cells in the macula, a tiny yellowish area near the center of the retina where vision is most acute. This deterioration effects central vision, the vision you use for reading, writing, driving and identifying faces. With macular degeneration straight lines become crooked, distinct shapes are blurry, lines become wavy and a fog forms in the center of a person's vision. Peripheral vision is not affected.

There are two types of macular degeneration. Ninety per cent of people with macular degeneration have the dry type, in which small yellow spots called drusen form underneath the macula. The drusen slowly breakdown the cells in the macula, causing distorted vision. In approximately ten per cent of the cases, dry macular degeneration can progress to the second more severe type called wet macular degeneration.

In the wet type abnormal blood vessels begin to grow toward the macula. These new blood vessels may leak blood that further deteriorates the macula causing rapid and severe vision loss.

Nutritional Approach

Hundreds of research studies have shown that macular degeneration is a nutritional responsive disease and that therapeutic doses of the following supplements not only reduce the risk of macular degeneration, but also may improve vision in people who already have the disease. The most important nutrients are lutein, zeaxanthin, taurine, omega 3 fatty acids, bilberry, grape seed extract and zinc.

Herbal Treatment

The following are the formulas I have found most beneficial:

  • Preserve Vistas Pill (Zhu Jing Wan)- tonifies and nourishes the liver and kidneys enriches the yin and improves vision
  • Augment the Qi and Increase Acuity Decoction (Yi Qi Cong Ming Tang)- strengthens and raises the middle Qi and increases visual acuity
  • Restore the Spleen Decoction (Gui Pi Tang)- increases the Qi, tonifies the blood, strengthens the spleen, nourishes the heart and helps the spleen control the blood.

General Points for Macular Degeneration

BL1, BL2, GB 1, ST 1, GB 20, GB 37, KI 3, LI 4, LV3, SP 6, ST 36, Tai Yang, Qui Hou

Micro current stimulation

Research studies have shown that the use of a home based micro current stimulation device has been shown to be a very effective adjunct to a comprehensive program for the treatment of macular degeneration.

Oriental Medicine Approach

In TCM, theory senile macular degeneration is due to blood deficiency and Qi deficiency. In TCM the liver is the blood storing organ. Blood deficiency of the liver will lead to malnutrition of the eye.

Therefore, the therapeutic principles are to replenish the liver and kidney, to promote circulation and to resolve the presence of phlegm and dampness that can block the circulation in the eyes. The circulation in the eyes is controlled by the spleen/stomach organs.


As a practicing optometrist for 24 years and a licensed acupuncturist I feel that medication and surgery are many times necessary to help preserve vision. But medicine as practiced today lacks the holistic and preventative emphasis that many times can alleviate the need for surgery and medications. In macular degeneration conventional medicine offers very little to patients whose eyes have begun to deteriorate. This is where Chinese Medicine should be at the forefront of treatment rather than at the back door.

My hope is that western and eastern healing come together and find solid footing in a shared goal of helping people preserve their precious gift of sight.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is an art and a science that takes years to master. Look for licensed acupuncturist with experience in the treatment of eye disorders on

About the Author

Dr. Marc Grossman O.D. L.Ac. is an optometrist and acupuncturist and has been in practice specializing in visual therapy for 24 years. He integrates a full range of mind/body therapies with conventional approaches to vision problems. Dr. Grossman holds degrees in Optometry, Biology, Learning Disabilities, and Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture. He is the Eastern Regional Director of the Optometric Extension Program (an international organization for behavioral vision care). He has lectured at the AAOM conference and many acupuncture State association meetings. He is the co-author of Natural Eye Care-An Encyclopedia (Keats), Magic Eye-How to See 3D (Andrews and McMeel), Natural Eye Care: A Comprehensive Manual for Practitioners of Chinese Medicine and Greater Vision- A Pathway to Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Clarity in Everyday Life (Keats).

For further information on complementary protocols, research studies and free consultations for eye conditions visit Dr. Marc Grossman's website at



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