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Acupuncture can be an effective adjunct to routine clinical treatment of dry eye, according to a team of investigators in the USA. Forty-nine patients received either true acupuncture TA or sham acupuncture (SA). In the acupuncture group, a total of 12 needles were placed bilaterally in the ears (at Salivary Gland 2, Point Zero and Shenmen) and index fingers (at Shangyan LI-1, Erjian LI-2 and a point between LI-1and LI-2), according to a protocol previously described for the treatment of xerostomia. Sham acupuncture treatment consisted of four needles placed bilaterally in an area situated on the left and right upper shoulders away from any known acupuncture channels. Both true and sham acupuncture improved scores on the ocular surface disease index (OSDI) at one week after treatment, however at six months the improvement in OSDI was significantly greater in the TA group. TA treatment improved many subjective measures of dry eye symptoms, although several objective indicators of dry eye remained unchanged. Even though it did not reach statistical significance, patients who received TA treatment required fewer artificial tear drops than those who received SA. While there were trends towards improvement in the sham acupuncture group, they did not reach statistical significant during the study period, suggesting a true treatment effect of acupuncture rather than a placebo effect.

Acupuncture and dry eye: current perspectives. A double-blinded randomized controlled trial and review of the literature. Clin Ophthalmol. 2019 Apr 24;13:731-740