Changing Course with my Acupuncture Treatment

Written By: ingridricks - Nov• 09•15

I had a sobering kick in the pants last week when I underwent a visual field test at an eye doctor’s office and saw on paper what I’ve been sensing for the past month or so: that the little amount of central core vision I have remaining—the small window that enables me to see parts of my daughters’ faces when I look at them from across the table—has been dimming to the point that I now need bright light to see them.

Right Eye Visual Field before treatment

Right Eye Visual Field before treatment

As those of you who have been following this blog know, I’ve taken a different path with acupuncture this past year in the name of affordability and accessibility. I’d experienced improvements during my yearlong treatment with Dr. Rosenfarb in New Jersey, but the cross-country trips every three months were taking a serious toll on my marriage. I was also hearing from lots of RP patients out there struggling to hold onto their eyesight who could not afford the travel and treatment expenses coupled with the ongoing time off from work, and I was determined to find a local solution for me and for everyone else out there.

Right Eye Visual Field after three days of treatments (9 treatments total)

Right Eye Visual Field after three days of treatments (9 treatments total)

I thought I had found my answer with my local acupuncturist. She’s an amazing person and highly skilled acupuncturist who has been focusing on whole body acupuncture with an emphasis on eyes. She even donated extra treatments for me for a few months to help me. It seemed like everything was going well. In fact in my outer periphery, my eyesight is fairly good right now. I now see most everything from the 45-degree mark on. But that stubborn donut of blindness around my central core hasn’t budged and the dimming I was sensing is REAL.

Last week, I decided to give a new acupuncturist a try. Lee Huang, who miraculously practices in the Seattle area where I live, worked as an eye doctor in China before moving to the US and has been treating people with vision problems for the past five years by focusing on underlying issues. She recently underwent live micro acupuncture training with eye acupuncturist Lizbeth Ryan, as well as online training and an intensive one-day workshop with Andy Rosenfarb.


Left Eye Visual Field Before treatment

Left Eye Visual Field Before treatment

Before starting treatment, I had a comprehensive visual field test taken by an independent eye clinic and then had another visual field test after three days (nine acupuncture sessions) of treatment.


I’ve posted my Before and After Visual Field tests above.. These tests measure 30 degrees (which is where most of my vision loss has occurred). As you can see, I have very little central vision remaining. But the good news is that the treatment did help in the areas that have dimmed (especially my right eye…though if you look at my left eye, you’ll notice a dark spot to the bottom left of the white blind spot that everyone has. That’s where I can now see bright lights when I could see nothing before.  I’ll write a much more in-depth blog post later this week on all of this. But I needed to share this with all of you today.


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Tanya’s Eyesight Saving Quest: Guest Post

Written By: Tanya Imani-Farley - Oct• 19•15


I have been struggling with RP my entire life. Even when I don’t remember struggling with it, I was.

When I was a toddler my mom recalls me holding her hand extra tight when going into dark places. Of course it was easy to write it off as “afraid of the dark” when there was no family history of eye disease or even eye problems, let alone an awareness that such a thing as “Retinitis Pigmentosa” existed.

As I grew into an older child, I struggled with seeing small print from a distance and had a hard time with things like trick-or-treating on Halloween, where other kids ran rampant through the neighborhoods at night while I was always left behind, cautiously stepping my way around hoping I didn’t fall. It wasn’t until I had difficulties passing my elementary school’s standard eye screening exam that my parents had any indication that anything was out of the ordinary. It was then that the optometrist saw something that didn’t look right and needless to say, I soon became a regular at the local university’s ophthalmology clinic.

I will never forget the day the doctors told my parents that their daughter had a debilitating eye disease and would be going blind in the next few years. They even instructed them to start researching “special schools” for the blind. I was 10 years old then. Now I’m 38 and can say the prediction of going blind was inaccurate. I won’t bore you with the details that happened between age 10 and now but I will say that I have a fully functional life. I have all the “normal” things in life including a career, a loving husband, and three beautiful children. So far, my eyes have stayed mostly stable throughout my adulthood.


Right around my third pregnancy, a couple years ago, my eyes started to change more quickly. I noticed some dimming in my mid-periphery that had not been there before. This is when I researched everything, going to Foundation Fighting Blindness seminars, reaching out to others, joining groups, finding out the facts about how acupuncture works and even scheduling my first acupuncture treatment in Canada. When my third child was only two months old, I left my family and flew to my first attempt to maintain, and perhaps even restore, any lost eyesight. That was two years ago. Since then I’ve continued with the intensive week-long acupuncture treatments every six months in New Jersey and have even made a family vacation of a treatment session in California. I have also committed to seeing an acupuncturist in my local city two or three times a month so that I can maintain optimal eyesight in between the traveling treatments. Making time to see my local acupuncturist and traveling to the week-long treatments has proven to be a challenge. However, when well planned, it’s worked. I squeeze the local appointments in right before or right after work. The travel sessions are coordinated months in advance to ensure I catch the red eye flights to save a day of travel and give my family enough time to plan my absence.

Along with this, I make a conscious effort to care for my eyes everyday by taking all the recommended supplements and herbs including: TUDCA, Fish oil, Lypo-Spheirc Vitamin C, Astaxanthin, Zeaxanthin with Lutein, Bilberry drops, MSM eye drops, Oculotrophin, Neurotrophin and a mix of Chinese herbs. I’m also aware of my diet, ensuring I’m getting plenty of dark leafy greens, berries, orange veggies and oils. Often times the most challenging part of the care I put into my eyes is lowering my stress levels. This is almost impossible to do given my lifestyle, but crucial for my eyes. Therefore I take time to breathe and empty my thoughts so that my body can continue to focus on healing my eyes. The dedication, time, and commitment this has required often feels overwhelming as I try to fit it in around my other busy-life obligations. But I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. If all this work means that I will be able to see my family until the day I die or even see them for 10 years longer than I would have, it’s worth it.


My eyes improved after my first acupuncture treatment and haven’t gotten worse since. I see an ophthalmologist once a year who confirms my eyes have improved and have been staying stable for the last two years. What’s more, I don’t worry about going blind anymore. If anything, I’m doing all that I can now to keep my eyesight, so I’ll have no regrets that I could’ve done more.

With all that being said, I still have what we call “RP”. I am not cured and still struggle with the disease at times but I am much better off doing everything, than I am doing nothing.

I can see the difference and I live the difference.


All my love and support,



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Staying the Course

Written By: ingridricks - Oct• 05•15


I saw Patrick Kennedy on 60 Minutes Sunday night and listened to him talk about his ongoing battle with alcoholism and mental illness. He pointed out that while he has been sober for five years, he realizes that this is a battle he’ll have to fight every day for the rest of his life—that when you are dealing with a chronic disease, there is no cure and that it requires a conscious effort every day to win the fight.

Our fight to save our eyesight is the same. There isn’t a magic pill that’s going to maintain or restore our vision, and at least for now, there is no cure that’s going to fix it. But I know many of us have discovered that if we do everything in our power from a whole-body health perspective (including acupuncture and/or micro-current stimulation for some of us), we do have the ability to save our eyesight—or at the very least, greatly slow the progression of our eye disease.

Some days are tough. There are plenty of mornings when I don’t feel like jumping out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to make time for my green juice, eye exercises and micro current stimulation. There are days when I don’t feel like heading to the gym to get in my cardio and strength training workout. Constantly making healthy eating choices, limiting my alcohol intake, avoiding stress and maintaining a positive attitude can be challenging as well.

But then I think about that devastating appointment I had with yet another retinal specialist nearly three years ago, in which I left convinced that I had only three years of any sort of eyesight left. I think about how powerless and scared I felt, how heartbroken I was at the thought of not being able to see my daughters or husband, and about how terrified I was of being stripped of my independence and sense of self.

I love my eyesight. I know it’s a gift and today—thanks in large part to the holistic health approach I’ve been taking—I have even more of it than I did at that appointment nearly three years ago. And thought I occasionally slip up, it’s  enough of a motivator to get myself back on track and keep me Staying the Course.


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End of Trial – New Beginning

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Aug• 19•15

Main blog image1894

Jeanne’s Take

Where to start? At the beginning of course. I met Ingrid at a low point in my RP journey and it’s safe to say that what I read in her blog changed my life. While researching the ever-elusive “cure” for RP, I stumbled on Ingrid’s adventures with acupuncture and knew I had nothing to lose.

Like many of us who have experienced target-based acupuncture, my first two weeks of treatment put me leaps ahead of where I started on virtually all fronts; night vision, visual field, contrast, etc. Jump-starting those dormant cells so boosted my morale that I contacted Ingrid personally to thank her for putting her message out there. And thus a partnership was born.

Ingrid and I had similar contemplations regarding acupuncture – if two weeks of eye-based acupuncture could yield such positive results, what could be gained by weekly treatments of whole-body needling? We gave ourselves six months to test the results of this symmetrical style of healing; I’m delighted to report they’ve been a game changer.

And I’ve learned a few things along the way. To wit…

  •  Acupuncture is for life. A weekly session of traditional Chinese medicine in the form of acupuncture benefits your eyes and so much more. Acupuncture encourages the whole body to work in unison in order to cure. This was our theory and it has borne countless upshots, from a wider visual field and steady maintenance (or even improvement over the original push) to extinguishing the fear, stress and anxiety that are an inherent measure of our condition.
  •  Attitude is King. We all experience the frustrations of any number of symptoms and they are legion. There are a variety of coping mechanisms but none more crucial than a positive outlook. The world can deliver incomprehensible tragedies; on occasion the imminent loss of sight feels like one but it doesn’t have to. Turn a needlessly dark restaurant into a playful sensory expedition – each bite a savory surprise (do you really need to see what you’re putting into your mouth?) If nothing else, I’ve learned that worry and defeat get me nowhere – not good for my health, not good for my family, not good for my sight.
  •  Health and well-being. Herbal enhancements help and only you can determine the balance that’s right for you. Fish oil, Lutein, Turmeric, Astaxanthin, and TUDCA among others are known for their healthful eye properties. The trick is to work these enhancements into a healthy diet without letting them take over. It didn’t take long for me to discover that three sets of pills a day was cramping my style; as I endeavored to turn focus away from the negativity of my diminishing sight it was clear that the jumbo pill dispenser wasn’t cutting it. RP isn’t an illness – take what you need, take it when it suits you and get on with it.
  •  Exercise. Cardio, swimming, biking, hiking. In the immortal words of you-know-who Just Do It! Fire up some tunes and dance like a maniac for ten minutes a day. Daily stretching and yoga keep me flexible and grounded – a headstand a day keeps the doctor away!
  •  Strength in Numbers. I’ve gained two enduring friendships from my battle with RP – lovely compassionate women whose company I treasure and whose solace I seek. The slings and arrows of their affliction are dissimilar yet so comparable to my own. An eye opener in and of itself – Retinitis Pigmentosa affects everyone differently but its bonds run deep.

The bottom line is crystal clear. Stay strong, maintain the fight and continue to believe. In yourself, in continued support of family and friends, and in your beautiful, inimitable eyes.


Ingrid’s Take

When I think about my journey over the past six months, the word that comes to mind is Empowerment.

I still have RP, still struggle to find my way up and down stairs or through a crowded restaurant, still see very little in the dark. But thanks to this informal acupuncture study with Jeanne and a continued focus on whole body health, I’m convinced I’ve found an affordable, accessible, balanced way to maintain and even improve my eyesight.

Since first incorporating acupuncture treatment more than two and a half years ago, I’ve experienced significant gains in my outer periphery. What hasn’t changed is my central visual core – at least not in a way that I can detect with my real-world tests. But that, in itself, is huge for me because after years of steady decline, it hasn’t gotten worse.

What I know for certain at this point is that our eyes are connected to everything else in our body and that when we take care of our bodies both physically and emotionally, we are also benefitting our eyes.

For me, this means eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet, taking vitamin and mineral supplements (see Jeanne’s list and add liquid minerals and Vitamin D), limiting my alcohol intake, doing daily cardio/strength training exercises, avoiding stress, maintaining a positive attitude, and enjoying life to the fullest.

It also means regular eye exercises and acupuncture.

I view acupuncture as a way to help keep my body in balance and increase oxygen and blood flow to my eyes. It also relaxes me and has been amazing for my mental health. Like Jeanne, I plan to continue acupuncture with my local acupuncturist for the long term because I know it’s helping me.

As Jeanne mentioned, a positive outlook and belief in our eyesight and ourselves are key in this fight. My secret?  Surrounding myself with a few amazing, newfound friends who exude positivity, strength and an incredible sense of humor as we tackle this eyesight saving journey together.

Funny image for blog post

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Art Therapy

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Jul• 20•15

eye art post

Eyes and art enjoy a long and storied history and why not – the eyes are the windows of the soul. What better inspiration for the creative mind than attempting to capture the eye’s shrouded and brooding mystery?

When my youngest child went off to college, I started tackling that long list of dreams that were not fully realized. One of those was art – though I could barely draw a stick figure. I’d heard the rumors that an artist lives inside all of us and decided to see for myself.

My beginnings were sketchy- no pun intended. I started with watercolor and when I tired of that medium (not edgy enough) I moved to collage which satisfied my passion for all things paper. From there I decided to take my iPad for a spin and voila I discovered my oeuvre!

What started as doodles naturally segued to eyes – always on the forefront of my mind. In turn that blossomed into a thriving pillow business yet always with an emphasis on the enigmatic eye.

Like me, I assume you are preoccupied with your eyes. This post is rather self-serving as I don’t have the answers or hot RP tips. Except to declare that art is a pristinely cathartic skill for taking one’s mind off of the daily struggles of our affliction. A focus outside yourself and into a unique form created from imagination and folly.

The iPad offers brilliant apps both intuitive and challenging. As an added bonus it is crisply colorful, very well lit and compact enough that your art and ideas are ever at your side. Give it a try!

As a way to encourage myself to continue creating I’ve crafted a new instagram page dedicated to the fruits of my labor. Not only can I share my vision; it encourages me to keep “painting”, keep persevering and to make something beautiful out of the incessant negativity of visual impairment.

Follow my artistic journey on instagram at @eyewillartistry

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Maintaining her Eyesight: Ten Years and Counting

Written By: ingridricks - Jun• 19•15

Charles and Marisa Anniversary edited

Marisa Postlewate may suffer from Usher Syndrome 2A – a degenerative disease that consists of both Retintis Pigmentosa and progressive hearing loss. But most people wouldn’t know it by interacting with her.

At almost 61, Marisa has nearly fifteen degrees of clear central vision and hearing that works fine with the help of hearing aids—and she has been holding steady with both her eyesight and her hearing for the past ten years.

Her secret? A whole-body health approach—which she attributes to Dr. Damon Miller and his Better Eye Health program—that focuses on diet (in a huge way), supplements, daily cardio exercise, eye exercises and acupressure, regular micro-current stimulation, reduced stress and a positive outlook on life.

I’ve been tracking Marisa’s journey for the past two and a half years and recently asked her if she would share her experience and eye health regime on this blog. Her story reinforces everything I’ve learned during my own eyesight-saving quest: that when it comes to eye health, overall health is key.

IR: When were you first diagnosed?

MP: I was diagnosed with mild hearing loss at age 12 and was diagnosed with RP at 40 – after my eye doctor discovered that I had cataracts and sent me to a retina specialist. When I first heard the news, I thought, “whatever.” My vision was good and I still got around at night without assistance. I had cataract surgery in both eyes, at 42 and 45, and kept driving and going about my life.

IR: So When Was Your Wake Up Call?

MP: In 2002, after having cervical spine surgery, I started noticing more RP moments: like missing a curve, or bumping into book bags in the classroom at the university where I taught. Then in 2005, I went to the Retina Foundation of the Southwest and they did four hours worth of tests including the visual field and learned that I was down to only 15 degrees of central vision.

Not long after that, I heard about Dr. Miller’s Better Eye Health workshop that was being held in Dallas. We lived only an hour away so I went. Dr. Miller introduced his program and I decided to give it a try. The following year, he came again. This time he offered a comprehensive weekend workshop that included a consultation with him. As soon as he touched me, he said, “You have a lot of inflammation going on.” He told me that before any therapy could work for my eyes, I had to reduce that inflammation.

IR: What steps did you take to reduce the inflammation?

MP: I wasn’t overweight so that wasn’t the problem. This inflammation is nothing one is able to see, but that Dr. Miller was able to feel and he got me going in the right direction. I knew I had some food sensitivities and some more serious allergies, so I stayed away from those triggers but that wasn’t enough. I did some detoxification under his supervision and followed what Dr. Miller calls a ‘hunter and gatherer’ diet. In other words, if it’s something you cannot make in your kitchen, you stay away from it: no processed foods and no foods that come in cans, boxes, etc. because we wanted to avoid all chemicals. Whole grains were okay to include, but I felt bloated when eating them so I cut them out too. I have never been much of a “cow” dairy person so I limited myself to eating Manchego cheese (made from sheep milk) and added goat cheese, yogurt, etc.

IR: What do you recommend for others who are fighting for their eyesight?

MP: Most diseases start in the digestive system so I would recommend a comprehensive serum allergy test done to see what may be causing inflammation in their body. I had mine done through my local doctor who sent it to They set you up with and offer very helpful dietary guidelines. There are also blogs where you can ask questions. With the results of the allergy test and Dr. Miller’s six-week Healthy Eating program and overall Better Eye Health program, I was on the road to health. What I’ve learned through all of this is that what helps to keep us healthy will also help keep our eyes healthy. I’ve also learned that it’s possible to have allergies/sensitivities to healthy food. For example, I love ginger and garlic but I have sensitivity to both so I have to go easy on those. It takes a conscious effort and we need to really listen to our bodies. If we didn’t overeat and feel bloated and/or have no energy after eating and sometimes have headaches, diarrhea or constipation, something we ate or drank is working against us.

IR: What supplements do you take?

MP: I follow Dr. Miller’s basic protocol, which includes:

  • Colloidal liquid vitamins
  • Colloidal liquid minerals
  • Vitamin C
  • DHA
  • Lutein
  • Taurine
  • Probiotics

I also take:

  • Vinpocetine – good for hearing and eye health
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • B Complex
  • Calcium (I like Ezorb and you can buy it online):
  • Magnesium (chelated)
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin K
  • Astaxanthin (works with Lutein for eye health)
  • COQ10

IR: I know that diet and supplements are only a part of your whole -health focus. Can you walk us through a typical day?

MP: My day begins with the juice of a half lemon in lukewarm water. If I am home, I will juice some cucumber with celery (good anti-inflammatory veggies) with spinach and a quarter of an apple to add some sweetness. I also have a protein powder drink with super seed fiber. For meals, it’s vegetarian dishes or fish/chicken with a variety of vegetables. I love quiche and make the crust with ground almonds so it’s loaded with protein. For snacks I have different types of hummus and eat it with celery or carrots, a half apple with almond/peanut butter, goat cheese with veggies or Manchego cheese. In the evening when I feel like a snack, I have sunflower or pumpkin seeds. I only drink black coffee, lots of water and red wine (not every night).

For exercise, I do stretches and some lightweight exercises. In addition, I try to walk at least three miles a day. I do “sunning” (sitting in sun with eyes closed and moving the eyeballs around) before 10 a.m. on sunny days. I do micro-current stimulation twice a day and try to do it at least three times a week. The acupressure and eye exercises can easily be done while sitting and watching TV and I try to do those daily. I do the light therapy (using a color therapy lamp provided through Dr. Miller’s eye health program) once a week when not traveling.

IR: Thanks for sharing all of this. It’s an inspiring reminder that we all have the power to take charge of our eye health. Any last bit of advice?

MP: I would say that it’s not one thing in particular, but living a healthy lifestyle as a whole. There’s also a wide variety of medical eye products that can help such as the Ocular Steroid Treatment. Stress is also a negative force that causes harm and we need to find ways to reduce its effect in the body. For me, it’s going for a walk to calm down. That, along with everything I’ve outlined above, is what’s working for me.


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RP – The Brighter Side

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Jun• 11•15

mama j one

We’re all familiar with the downsides of our disease – not only are we forced to regularly rehash it but we live it day in and day out. It’s challenging at best and downright depressing at it’s worst.

As Ingrid and I move through our journey towards healthier sight we have discovered much about the positive effects of whole body acupuncture, a nutritious diet and the power of positive thinking. My mother taught me that Attitude is King – as elemental to healthy living as diet and exercise. Over the course of the last year in particular I have strived to look at the bright side of my RP – in a word #everycloudhasasilverlining.

By turning your back on the inevitable downs its remarkable how many ups there can be to visual impairment. Bear with me while I list just a few.

  1. I feel thirty-five in every way that counts. But – to my surprise – I don’t get disagreements or expressions of surprise when I mention that I’m actually fifty-nine. They can see my wrinkles but I cannot. Increasing lack of contrast means a smooth and youthful visage looking back at me every day of the week. What’s not to love about forever young?
  1. You can’t clean what you can’t see. Dust bunnies, cutting board crumbs and food stains do not exist if I can’t see them, Thus I live happily content in my perpetually “clean” house.
  1. Designated driver. Not only can I not see at night I don’t even drive. It’s up to someone else to get me there, allow me to indulge in guilt-free cocktails and get me back home. Now that’s a sweet deal!
  1. Navy or black? Purple or brown? Push those mystery socks into a pile and let someone else do the sorting! And no one likes triangular burn marks on their dress shirts so it’s sayonara to ironing!
  1. Public bathrooms. Don’t tell me I can’t use that larger, cleaner, oft-vacant stall; I’m handicapped whether I look it or not!
  1. I’m often lauded for my bold style choices. My secret? Can’t see if that subtle stripe clashes with the muted plaid so I mix and match with voguish abandon!

Let’s get out there and look on the bright side. Turn RP on its ear – or better yet fully re-brand it as Riproaringly Positive!


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Breaking the Addiction to Food

Written By: ingridricks - Jun• 07•15


I’m twenty-one days into a month-long elimination diet that forbids added sugar, grains, legumes, potatoes, alcohol, dairy or even goat or sheep milk/cheese. And it’s  the hardest challenge I’ve undertaken to date in my ongoing eyesight-healing quest.

I knew I was addicted to food. Cheese-covered tater tots and pizza washed down by double IPAs had become part of my weekly stable, and I couldn’t start my day without my morning double-shot hemp mocha.

But I also know inflammation plays a huge role in RP and after trying and failing at similar cleaning diets in the past, I decided to force my way through this–to prove that I am stronger than my cravings, and to see what affect, it any, eliminating these foods from my diet would have on my eyesight.

Three weeks in, what I’ve learned is that I can do this– and that I feel better all the way around as a result. I can’t say that my eyesight has suddenly opened up, but I know that eliminating high-inflammatory foods and eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits are key to overall health—eyesight included. And the surprising part of all of this is that I’ve discovered that root vegetables actually have a purpose, and that there are plenty of  great-tasting ways to put fruits and vegetables to work. A few examples:

  • Spaghetti squash and zucchini both make great substitutes for pasta (this a definite keeper for my family).
  • Soups are lifesavers, and there are plenty to choose from
  • You can’t go wrong with smoked salmon and spinach
  • Smoothies made of fresh berries, bananas and a splash of coconut milk satisfy any sweet tooth cravings
  • Baked sweet potatoes fries rock
  • Broccoli and onions scrambled with eggs makes a filling breakfast (the pic above is from our breakfast this morning)

I’m not saying I won’t incorporate some of the “no” foods back into my diet. But now that most of my cravings for the bad stuff have subsided, I know I’m going to steer clear of dairy and wheat, considerably limit my sugar and alcohol intake,  and continue to explore recipes built around vegetables And the great news is that John, Sydney and Hannah are on board, too.

If I can do this, so can you. Don’t think about what you’re giving up. Think about what you’re gaining: health, empowerment and possible eyesight preservation.



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Our Acupuncture Study Update – Part Two

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - May• 19•15

Jeanne museum

Ingrid and I are of like mind when it comes to our goals for our eyes. Above all we know that good health and attitude play important roles in the long-term care of our sight.

Our paths began much the same way—with a trek to the east coast for a lengthy acupuncture eye treatment. Ingrid’s DTS blog jump-started the acupuncture movement for many RP-ers and I was one of them.

But as the first three months of our study have indicated, the journey has changed. We are endeavoring to make it more geographically accessible, financially manageable and, perhaps most importantly, far more personal.

My acupuncturist Ed Weiss is an MD who turned to acupuncture over forty years ago. He does not come from a specific eye background and is trained to treat the entire body as a whole. Not just to rid it of problems and pain but to treat the emotional side as well—the apprehension, the anxiety and fear of the unknown.

Jeanne canoingAcupuncture is a cumulative build if you will. The body takes time to pull its parts into harmony and thus a weekly diet of needles is a good thing indeed. I noticed a real difference when I was in Asia last month and off my acupuncture for nearly four weeks. By week three my contrast and night vision were dimming along with my confidence. (Note to future travelers: Beijing’s Forbidden City is the ultimate RP par course!) The physical stress of the travel and the long international flights played their parts – supporting Ed’s theory that the most significant result of acupuncture for RP is reducing stress.

I echo John’s sentiment—what if we had been pursuing acupuncture from the start? I wish I knew the answer to that but you can’t go back. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives so let’s get out there and live!



Interested in giving local acupuncture a try? Check out the advice Ingrid’s acupuncturist, Michelle Thoreson, offers for RP patients looking for an acupuncturist to work with – Read Our Acupuncture Treatment Study: Half Way Point post.


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Our Acupuncture Experiment: Half Way Point

Written By: ingridricks - May• 18•15

View More:’s been nearly three months since Jeanne Aufmuth and I kicked off our informal acupuncture study to test whether weekly treatments with a local acupuncturist who had no special eye training or previous experience treating patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa could help our eyesight. Here’s my experience to date – Jeanne will share hers tomorrow.

NOTE: My experience is completely subjective. I’ve not had independent testing done to verify that the changes I’ve noticed are reflected on eye tests.  I’m only sharing my experienc–as I experience it–in case it’s helpful to anyone out there.


 I was hopeful when I first connected with my acupuncturist, Michelle Thoreson. She had come highly recommended by a friend and had more than twenty years of experience in Chinese and Japanese style acupuncture. Though she readily admitted that treating RP was a first for her, she expressed interest in giving it a go and was open to incorporating the protocol eye acupuncturist Andy Rosenfarb had developed for the RP pilot study done at Johns Hopkins. I chose this as a starting point because I’d undergone treatment with Andy and it had benefited me.

I purchased a copy of the RP study (it cost $38 – click here to access) on Michelle’s behalf and gave it to her for review. A week later, she invited me to stop by her office to discuss my case and her thoughts. By the time our meeting was over, I knew I was in good hands.

Michelle had laid out a large body chart on a table and stuck needles in every point that had been identified in the study. There were nearly thirty needles covering the body.

“Did you really have all of these needles in you?” she asked.

When I told her hadn’t (at least that I could recall), she explained that the points listed in the study,  from her view, seemed to be a shotgun approach that covered virtually every potential point deemed beneficial for the eye. She told me that if we worked together, she would try out different points from the study to determine which ones my body responded to, but would also focus on my body system as a whole, and let my pulse and other signals from my body guide her.

Then she added this. “I read your book because I wanted to know more about you and just who this person was who is so determined to save her eyesight.”

I was crying by the time I left her office. I was blown away that she had already invested so much of her personal time to delve into the RP study and learn as much as as she could about me and my personal circumstances.  We scheduled a start date for my treatment and our work together began.


Michelle T cropped

My treatment experience with Michelle has been very different from the specialized eye acupuncture treatment I’d received previously. During my hour-long sessions with her, she focuses her entire attention on me—taking my pulse and checking various parts of my body for blockages that could be impacting blood, oxygen and energy flow to my eyes, then inserting needles and doing moxa treatments (a burning herb), and then repeating the process.

For the first two months, I wasn’t sure if the acupuncture treatments were helping my eyesight, though I could feel the energy flow through my body and always left my treatment sessions feeling relaxed and at peace. But Michelle kept at it, researching RP on her own time, constantly trying out new points and continuing to let my body be her ultimate guide until she’d settled on her own protocol (which includes needling at the base of my neck and on the sides of my head) that she felt best benefitted me. She even began donating extra treatment days—which she refers to as learning days—so she could approach those days with an open mind and look for other signals my body may be giving her that could help my eyesight.

Then, a week before Mother’s Day, something clicked. I was sitting out in the sun watching my daughter play Ultimate Frisbee and noticed that I could see from my shoulders, to the jacket I was wearing, to my lap, to half way down my extended legs. I’d had some spotty vision in my bottom periphery, but nothing as encompassing as this. It was like a chunk of blockage in my bottom mid-periphery had just been removed.

John has been somewhat skeptical of my holistic healing quest. But when I told him what I was seeing, even he was excited.

“It makes me wonder if you would even have a problem now if you had been doing this from the start,” he said.

I still have a tight donut of blindness around my central core, and can still see only part of a person’s face when I look at them from a cross the table. But I definitely see more in my bottom periphery and have noticed that the things I do see look brighter. And though I still can’t see anything in the dark, I’ve noticed that my eyes are beginning to adjust in dim light so that after three or four minutes, I can make out objects that I couldn’t make out before.

Jeanne and I kicked off our informal study because we’ve both been helped by acupuncture but didn’t want to have to leave home for a week or two stretch every few months to access treatment. We wanted an affordable, accessible, balanced treatment option—for ourselves and for anyone else interested in giving acupuncture a try. I’ve found this with Michelle and am convinced that you can find it, too.

I asked Michelle what advice she would give to RP patients looking for an acupuncturist to work with. Here’s what she had to say:

f I had RP and were looking for an acupuncturist, I would consider:

  • Are basic qualifications in order?  Certified. Licensed.
  • Confidence in the dedication and professionalism of the practitioner.
  • Knowledge that the practitioner is addressing
    • Constitutional vitality overall
    • Attention to channels and microsystem approaches connected to the eyes directly
    • Reduction of the effects of lifestyle and situational stressors through acupuncture and, possibly, lifestyle recommendations

That’s it for me for now. Stop back tomorrow to read Jeanne’s acupuncture treatment experience.


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