Usher syndrome is the most common condition that affects both hearing and vision. A syndrome is a disease or disorder that has more than one feature or symptom. The major symptoms of Usher syndrome are hearing loss and an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa, or RP. RP causes night-blindness and a loss of peripheral vision (side vision) through the progressive degeneration of the retina. The retina is a light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye and is crucial for vision. As RP progresses, the field of vision narrows—a condition known as “tunnel vision”—until only central vision (the ability to see straight ahead) remains. Many people with Usher syndrome also have severe balance problems.

There are three clinical types of Usher syndrome: type 1, type 2, and type 3. In the United States, types 1 and 2 are the most common types. Together, they account for approximately 90 to 95 percent of all cases of children who have Usher syndrome.


Who is affected by Usher syndrome?

Approximately 3 to 6 percent of all children who are deaf and another 3 to 6 percent of children who are hard-of-hearing have Usher syndrome. In developed countries such as the United States, about four babies in every 100,000 births have Usher syndrome.


What are the characteristics of the three types of Usher syndrome?

Type 1:     Children with type 1 Usher syndrome are profoundly deaf at birth and have severe balance problems. Many of these children obtain little or no benefit from hearing aids. Parents should consult their doctor and other hearing health professionals as early as possible to determine the best communication method for their child. Intervention should be introduced early, during the first few years of life, so that the child can take advantage of the unique window of time during which the brain is most receptive to learning language, whether spoken or signed. If a child is diagnosed with type 1 Usher syndrome early on, before he or she loses the ability to see, that child is more likely to benefit from the full spectrum of intervention strategies that can help him or her participate more fully in life’s activities.

Because of the balance problems associated with type 1 Usher syndrome, children with this disorder are slow to sit without support and typically don’t walk independently before they are 18 months old. These children usually begin to develop vision problems in early childhood, almost always by the time they reach age 10. Vision problems most often begin with difficulty seeing at night, but tend to progress rapidly until the person is completely blind.

Type 2:     Children with type 2 Usher syndrome are born with moderate to severe hearing loss and normal balance. Although the severity of hearing loss varies, most of these children can benefit from hearing aids and can communicate orally. The vision problems in type 2 Usher syndrome tend to progress more slowly than those in type 1, with the onset of RP often not apparent until the teens.

Type 3:      Children with type 3 Usher syndrome have normal hearing at birth. Although most children with the disorder have normal to near-normal balance, some may develop balance problems later on. Hearing and sight worsen over time, but the rate at which they decline can vary from person to person, even within the same family. A person with type 3 Usher syndrome may develop hearing loss by the teens, and he or she will usually require hearing aids by mid- to late adulthood. Night blindness usually begins sometime during puberty. Blind spots appear by the late teens to early adulthood, and, by mid-adulthood, the person is usually legally blind.


The Energetic Vision Usher Syndrome Protocol

In Chinese medical theory the ability of the eyes to see things and to distinguish colors is one of nature’s true miracles. Being an extremely important part of the human body’s ability to relate to the world, the eyes have a close relationship with the Qi, blood, fluids, vessels and all organ systems.  All of these connections allow the Qi to flow upward from the organs to allow the eyes to see.  Within Chinese medical theory the function of sight is completely attributed to the healthy function of the internal organs.  Any type of dysfunction of the related organs will restrict the Essential Qi from reaching the eyes resulting in declining vision.  For example, there are 6 possible patterns and treatment principles for degenerative vision loss in the Liver organ alone and well over 100 different possibilities in the entire organ system.  This is why at Energetic Vision we spend an hour with you before we begin treatment to understand what vessels are affected and to determine a course of therapy that is based on your individual imbalances.

The Energetic Vision Usher Syndrome protocol is a proactive, comprehensive treatment program for enhancing and managing vision and overall health. It is applicable for most types of retinal disease as well as glaucoma and iritis (uveitis).  The standard beginning protocol is intensive and involves 10 total acupuncture treatments that are to be completed within a one week timeframe. Each acupuncture session lasts about 30 minutes and clients usually do 2-3 treatments per day with an hour in-between.

Included with your treatment are 2 sets of eye tests that help us document your results along the way. We first test at your intake session and again after ten sessions. The eye tests performed in the clinic include: contrast sensitivity, color field, near and far acuity and Amsler grid. It is required that you have a thorough eye exam from your ophthalmologist within three months prior to starting the treatments.  This report and your health history are to be submitted one week prior to the start of treatments.

Within the Usher Syndrome protocol, we will take an in depth look at many likely factors that can influence vision including: overall health, nutrition, supplements, household toxins, personal care products, stress, dental history, emotions and exercise. Addressing these issues is essential to helping the acupuncture succeed.  Depending on the severity of your eye condition, follow-up treatments are mandatory to maintain vision gains. Some clients may choose to do monthly maintenance sessions after their first two sessions, while others may visit the clinic every quarter or even annually. Each person responds differently and will require a unique, flexible continuing care plan.   

Acupuncture cannot cure your eye disease but in most cases it can substantially improve it and your quality of life. There are four stages of health for the nerve cells in the retina and optic nerve: 1. Normal or healthy; 2. Dormant; 3. Damaged or sick and 4. Death.  The treatment protocol attempts to stimulate and wake up the dormant cells and restore them to function while helping to heal and rejuvenate the damaged/sick cells.  It also seems to protect the healthy cells from further deterioration.  This treatment does not have a 100% success rate but 80% of patients report positive results.