Acupuncture Better than Drugs for Eye Twitching

A new study concludes that acupuncture is more effective than anticonvulsant drug therapy for the treatment of blepharospasms, an abnormal contraction or twitch of one or more of the eyelids. In severe cases, the eyelids may clamp shut and cause functional blindness. Acupuncture had over a 93% success rate for the treatment of blepharospasms whereas medications had a 75% success rate.


The main focus of the study was comparing the effective rate of acupuncture versus anticonvulsant medication. However, interesting patient vignettes emerged wherein the study participants had tried other procedures without successful long-term results. In one case, the study noted that a patient had tried botox injections to control the eyelid spasms but the results only lasted three months. The acupuncture treatments successfully resolved the condition for the patient.

The anticonvulsant medications used in the control group were benzhexol hydrochloride and baclofen. Clonazepam was added to the treatment regime on an as needed basis. Acupuncture points used in the study were LI4 (Hegu), GB20 (Fengchi), DU20 (Baihui), UB2 (Zanzhu), TB23 (Sizhukong) and Taiyang (Ex-Hn5). Ahshi point were added for local spasms of the orbicularis oculi muscles. The ashi needles were 0.25mm in length and Ahshi points were spaced at a distance of 0.3cm between needles. Up to 2 or 3 rows of needles were applied to the muscles as needed with up to 5 needles per row. Sedation technique was applied to LI4 and GB20 after the arrival of Qi. All other primary acupuncture points were stimulated with even reinforcing-reducing manual techniques. The needles were administered up to one treatment per day and needle retention time was 30 minutes.

The acupuncture treatment group had a total of 46 randomly chosen patients of which 32 were completely cured. A total of 7 had marked relief with only increased blinking due to external stimuli, 4 experienced partial relief marked by only a mild quivering of the eyelids and no functional impairment and 3 patients did not respond to treatment. The drug therapy group consisted of 32 patients of which 19 were cured, 4 showed marked improvement, 1 showed partial relief and 8 did not respond to treatment.

Acupuncture Shop Talk
Many studies only test one acupuncture point for its efficaciousness whereas other studies such as this investigate an acupuncture point prescription. Acupuncturists use a variety of acupoints such as SI6, LV3 and GB37 for the treatment of eye disorders. The points chosen for the study represent a standard acupuncture treatment in that the point selection is in common use. Let’s take a look at some of the acupuncture points used in the study.

TB23 (Sizhukong), translated as silken bamboo hollow, is located in the depression at the lateral end of the eyebrow. It is traditionally indicated for the treatment of headaches, eye disorders and facial paralysis. This point is particularly effective for the treatment of eye disorders due to wind-heat. A branch of the main acupuncture channel separates behind the ear, enters the ear and then emerges in front of the ear where it then intersects SI19, GB3 and finally crosses the cheek to terminate at TB23, the final acupuncture point on the triple burner (Sanjiao) channel. This point is needled transversely either medially or posteriorly along the eyebrow.

UB2 (Zanzhu), translated as gathered bamboo, is located in the supraorbital notch at the medial extremity of the eyebrow. Together, TB23 and UB2 effectively needle both ends of the eyebrow as a matched pair. Like TB23, UB2 is indicated for the treatment of headaches and eye disorders.

LI4 is also indicated for headaches and eye disorders but is also a Source Point and Entry Point. LI4 disperses wind, relieves exterior conditions, suppresses pain and clears the channels. LI4 is also commonly used for the treatment of toothaches, deafness, facial edema and paralysis, sore throat, trismus and for febrile conditions. LI4 may be connected to SP6 with electroacupuncture to induce labor. LI4 is also combined with HT6 for the treatment of night sweating and with K7 to induce diaphoresis. LI4 is also combined with LU7 in a Source-Luo point combination.

Du, Hai-ying, and Xing-yuan Yu. “Clinical observation on aligned needling in treating idiopathic blepharospasm.” Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science 11.2 (2013): 101-103.