JCM ReviewJulian Scott has for many years been interested in the treatment of eye diseases with acupuncture, and this book is a distillation of his reading and experience in this area. He draws on a dozen Chinese texts, including Sun Si Miao’s classic Yin Hai Jing Wei (Essential Subtleties on the Silver Sea). The information on eye diseases is rather scattered about in the literature and the author has extracted, thoughtfully critiqued and synthesised it to produce clear summaries on aetiology, diagnosis and treatment. He then combines this information with his own clinical experience and his theorising from that experience. I appreciated the way the sources of information are made clear throughout. One interesting consequence of this is that the reader can see clearly which of the ideas on theory or treatment come from the author’s own experience, and how he has used the concepts of both Chinese medicine theory and broader natural medicine theory to reflect on his own clinical experience and develop new ideas. This gives the book an extra depth and value.
A great strength of the book is that it is attractively designed and the author’s lucid style makes the information readily accessible. It is a relatively short text of 208 pages and it is an affordable and valuable addition to any practitioner’s library.
The book starts with a brief and useful summary of the anatomy and physiology of the eye. This is followed by a concise and useful section on Chinese medicine Zangfu theory in relation to the eyes which, for example, draws our attention to the role of the Lungs in glaucoma and in diseases of the cornea, and informs us that less obvious patterns such as Heart yang deficiency can underlie degenerative diseases of the eye. The author’s own experience and opinions are interesting too, such as his observations on the effect of dampness and phlegm on the fluids of the eye in conditions such as dry eyes and chronic glaucoma, and his view that floaters are actually due to inadequate qi reaching the eyes, whereas blood xu leads to actual black dots or temporary or persistent areas of blindness in the field of vision.
There is a brief summary of the Chinese medicine diagnostic interpretation of a range of eye symptoms, and then an interesting discussion of the causes of eye diseases, including emotions, foods and mercury amalgam. Then there are sections on acupuncture points and treatment principles and techniques. These include plenty of clinically useful information on needle techniques and valuable adjuncts such as massage techniques for patients to use between acupuncture treatments.
The largest section of the book discusses 23 specific diseases of the eyes. It covers a wide range, from optic atrophy, macular degeneration, optic neuritis, glaucoma and the after effects of stroke, to conjunctivitis, hay fever, corneal ulcer and stye. The author’s extensive experience in the treatment of children informs sections on myopia and crossed eyes, and there is an interesting discussion of seasonal affective disorder, the first I have seen in the literature.
For each disease there is a good concise summary of the Western medicine for each condition, followed by the Chinese medicine approach with discussion of the aetiology and pathology followed by differentiation of patterns and treatment. For several of the diseases there are helpful short abstracts of Chinese research into the acupuncture treatment of the disease, with a brief and sensible commentary. Particularly useful for practitioners is the clinical information on needling sensations to seek, frequency of treatment, what outcomes to expect and how many treatments may be required.
Practitioners need to have confidence in themselves when treating diseases such as these and this confidence is strengthened by having real clarity about diagnosis and treatment, and especially from having more information about outcomes based on clinical experience and clinical research studies. This information is also important to us in talking to our patients, especially since some of the more serious eye diseases require frequent treatment over a long period of time, and patients are more likely to make this commitment if we are confident and able to provide them with information on the probable outcomes. This is the information which is so often inadequately provided in acupuncture textbooks, but it is provided here in an honest and realistic way, and this alone makes this book worth buying.
The author has mostly restricted himself to diseases of which he has clinical experience, and which are discussed in the literature. As a result, there are a number of eye diseases which are not discussed in this book, such as uveitis / iritis / choroiditis, central serous retinopathy, chronic dry eyes, vitreous detachment and detached retina. One would expect that some of these would respond to acupuncture, and it would be good to have more information on these conditions as well. Perhaps the only way this can happen is for practitioners to write up cases for publication. The eye diseases cases presented by Smuel Halevi in this journal are excellent examples and it would be wonderful to see more from other practitioners.
In the meantime, this book is a valuable addition to the English language literature on acupuncture. It covers diseases which are hardly if at all discussed elsewhere. Some of these are seen frequently in clinic. Many are seen only occasionally, yet acupuncture often has a great deal to offer. As we as practitioners become better informed and more confident about treating these conditions, the opportunities to treat them will doubtless increase. In any case, even if the chance to treat conditions which often threaten partial or complete loss of sight only occurs occasionally, when the opportunity does present itself we should be prepared for it, and there is nothing more rewarding than success in cases like these.
Richard Blackwell, Northern College of Acupuncture
ContentsList of Illustrations
PART 1, BASICS
Anatomy and Physiology
The Organs and the Eyes
Some Diagnostic Features
Causes of Eye Diseases
Acupuncture Points That Affect the Eyes
Treatment Principles and Techniques
PART 2, DISEASES
Retinal Problems Leading to Loss of Vision
Problems of the Front of the Eye
Problems of the Extraocular Muscles
Appendix 1 Summary of Patterns
Appendix 2 Treatment of Blood Insufficiency and Anemia
Appendix 3 More about Mercury
Appendix 4 Some Commonly Used Medicines
|Number Of Pages||208|