Body & Sports

TCM in treatment of myopia

Updated: 2010-02-23
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According to Raffles Chinese Medicine's consultant TCM physician, Mr Wu Yue, acupuncture and acupressure can help treat myopia, especially in young children who have had mild myopia for less than six months. He also sometimes prescribes herbs to improve or control myopia.


"Tiny pearl-like 'seeds' are stuck to the various acu-points on the patient's ear and are left on the ear for one or two days. Four to five 'seeds' are administered during each session," he said.


While myopia cannot be reversed, Mr Wu said the TCM treatments can improve the condition over time and reduce the risks of retinal detachment and glaucoma.


People with extreme myopia


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Singapore has one of the highest prevalence rates of myopia in the world. More than 80 per cent of Singaporeans are myopic, of which 10 per cent have high myopia.


By medical standards, high myopia is defined as having an optical power of 600 degrees and above, said Associate Professor Leonard Ang, medical director of The Eye and Cornea Transplant Centre and Premium Lasik Surgery Clinic.


While myopia can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, a person who suffers extreme myopia - or pathological myopia - is usually genetically predisposed to it, according to Dr Lee Hung Ming, medical director and senior eye surgeon at Parkway Eye Centre.


Assoc Prof Ang added that while "prolonged near activities", such as reading, may also increase a person's myopia by "an additional 100 to 200 degrees", they are not the main cause of high myopia.


For the severely myopic, wearing glasses with thick, heavy lenses is a hassle.


"The lenses result in visual distortions, which may affect your vision. Thick glasses also restrict peripheral vision," said Dr Lee. One option is to turn to soft contact lenses, but these only help to correct myopia of up to 1,200 degrees.


Dr Lee added that people with extreme myopia are also more prone to having a host of other eye problems such as cataract, glaucoma, as well as torn or detached retinas.


Jacqueline Kong used to tell her friends that if she were to lose her glasses, that would be the end of her.


The 33-year-old case management officer wasn't joking. Her severe myopia - of 1,600 and 1,450 degrees in the right and left eye, respectively - would leave her blind as a bat without her glasses.


Jacqueline has extreme myopia (of above 1,000 degrees) and she is one of the 800 cases Assoc Prof Ang saw last year.


Surgical options


Jacqueline's short-sightedness was more than just a bothersome problem. In fact, it made her feel "handicapped" at times.


"I couldn't survive without my glasses. I even had problems finding them after I took them off at home!" she said.


Last year, she paid about $8,000 to get rid of her myopia permanently with implantable contact lenses (ICL), one of the surgical procedures available for those with high myopia. Jacqueline now has perfect vision.


According to Assoc Prof Ang, implantable contact lenses are good for those with myopia above 800 degrees.


The procedure, which lasts about 15 minutes, involves inserting an artificial lens into the eye through a 3mm incision. "It is relatively painless and visual recovery is quick. Patients can see clearly by the next day," said Dr Lee. He added that the procedure has a low risk - about 1 per cent - of cataract formation and infection.


Lasik is another option for those with high myopia, said Assoc Prof Ang. However, Dr Lee said that the procedure is generally unsuitable for those with extreme myopia of more than 1,500 degrees.


"Lasik corrects myopia by reshaping corneal tissue at sub-micron precision. So, the higher the myopia, the more corneal tissue is removed. In cases of extreme myopia, too much corneal tissue would need to be removed and this is not safe," he explained.


Whatever your choice, Assoc Prof Ang said it is advisable to consult a refractive surgeon who is familiar with the various surgical options so that he or she is able to discuss the suitability of each procedure with the patient.


SOURCE: by Eveline Gan 

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