Treating macular degeneration with electrical stimulation

Treatment of Macular Degeneration with Microcurrent Stimulation


Introduction

The treatment of Macular Degeneration with Microcurrent Stimulation of acupuncture points has proven to be effective as the most effective treatment of this disease. Although microcurrent stimulation has been used for over thirty years to treat soft tissue injuries, it’s use for retinal diseases is relatively recent. The following article reviews the problem of macular degeneration and the science behind treatment with electrical stimulation of acupuncture points for the eyes, often called electrical acupuncture.


Abstract

In the process leading to vision, light enters the eye through the cornea, and then passes through the pupil (in the center of the iris) and the lens, which focuses it onto the retina. The lens changes its shape to allow light to be focused sharply on the retina. Directly behind the lens and on the retina is a depressed spot called the macula lutea (or fovea), which lies at the center of the visual field.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the major cause of blindness in the United States in persons over 55 years of age.
AMD damages the retinal tissue in the macular area causing fine pigmentary stippling, retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) changes, and the development of drusen.

Drusen are the result of precipitation of cellular waste materials in the RPE. Reports estimate that over 22 million adults in the United States currently suffer from AMD. As a comparison, about 9 to 10 million suffer from cancer. Some reports estimate that by 2010 over 30 million adults in the US will suffer from AMD.

Traditional therapies offer no treatment for the “dry form” macular degeneration. Although recent research indicates some benefit from the use of vitamin and mineral supplements, the use of antioxidants may slow but not stop the progression of the disease.

Recent treatment of acupuncture points with the use of microcurrent stimulation has shown promising and even remarkable results in stopping and reversing the results of the effects of macular degeneration. The results of the clinical studies described below indicate that microcurrent stimulation of acupuncture points can have a positive effect on the vision of patients with AMD. It is likely that this is to the effect that microcurrent has on enhancing the cellular ATP synthesizing capabilities, specifically in the retina, and thus provide a means to improve visual acuity for AMD patients. Microcurrent stimulation of acupuncture points is currently the only viable option for those suffering from AMD.


Key Words

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*Lutein - Lutein and Zeaxanthin are the only carotenoid antioxidants found in the macula..

*Macula - The Macular Lutea is a small yellowish area lying slightly behind the center of the retina that constitutes the region of maximum visual acuity.

*Rods, chiefly responsible for night vision, respond to varying degrees of light and dark but not to color.]]

*Cones respond to light and dark as well as to color or different wavelengths of light, and operate mainly in daytime. Only cones are present in the fovea.


Rationale

It is possible that ATP (adenosine triphosphate) metabolism is one of the significant keys that is crucial in the treatment of AMD. ATP Synthase, a.k.a. ATPase, is an enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of ATP. A genetic defect in the ATPase 6 gene has been implicated in the disease Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP has similarities to AMD, not the least of which is that RP is a type of progressive retinal degeneration.

Stargardt’s disease (STGD), also known as fundus flavimaculatus (FFM), is an autosomal recessive retinal disorder characterized by a juvenile-onset macular dystrophy, alterations of the peripheral retina, and subretinal deposition of lipofuscin-like material. A gene encoding an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter was mapped to the 2-cM (centiMorgan) interval at 1p13-p21 previously shown by linkage analysis to harbor the STGD gene. This gene, ABCR, is expressed exclusively and at high levels in the retina, in rod but not cone photoreceptors, as detected by in situ hybridization. Mutational analysis of ABCR in STGD families revealed a total of 19 different mutations including homozygous mutations in two families with consanguineous parentage. These data indicate that ABCR is the causal gene of STGD/FFM.

ATP dysfunction seems to be the common link between several different genetically related forms of retinal degeneration. Based on analysis of preliminary studies, it is likely that AMD is related genetically to the reduced production of ATP in the cells of the retina. Enhancement of intracellular ATP concentrations is a known effect of microcurrent stimulation. Cheng’s study showed that protein synthesis is enhanced by microcurrent stimulation.

Cheng’s research also showed that microcurrent also enhanced the cell’s ability to absorb nutrients and to produce ATP. Currents in the range of 500 microAmps were shown to increase ATP concentrations up to 500%.9 Establishing an increased electrical charge on the cells decreases electrical resistance of the Schwann cell sheaths and a significant amount of information is processed and transmitted, not only via the traditional waves of depolarization of the cell membrane, but also via an analog current carried by the myelin sheaths.10 It is also important to note that Cheng’s research showed that electrical stimulation above 1000 micro amps (1 milli-amp) decreased protein synthesis as much as 50%. Additionally, above 1 milli-amp, ATP production decreases below normal values.

Normal ATP concentrations are essential for restoration of visual purple and rhodopsin after light reception and transmission has taken place. Normal concentrations of ATP are also critical for neurological re-polarization, normal cellular reproduction, normal cellular maintenance and cellular waste management.


Research and Clinical Studies

August Reader, MD, a neuro-retinologist, and Grace Halloran, PhD, completed a double blind study that indicated positive results from microcurrent stimulation for patients with Age-related Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Stargardt's disease, and other retinal diseases.

Damon P. Miller, M.D., has published the clinical results of the first 120 patients he treated for AMD using microcurrent therapy that showed significant improvement.

A preliminary report on the treatment of AMD using auricular acupuncture and electrical acupuncture was issued by Alston Lundgren, MD. This study involved only 10 individuals, but also showed significant improvement for most patients. In each of these studies or clinical cases, all microcurrent was delivered to the retina via acupuncture points.

Gene Bruno, OMD, published a study of 42 patients treated over a one-year period who were trained in the use of self-treatment with microcurrent stimulation of acupuncture points for the treatment of AMD. Treatment involved the use of a microcurrent stimulator to treat acupuncture points surrounding the eyes. The microstimulator that was used was the MicroStim 100®. The stimulator was used to deliver micro-current at 250 to 700 microAmps for five minutes to points near the eye. Patients were also educated in the use of nutritional supplements considered supportive for ocular conditions. In this clinical study the average age of patients was 77.6 years. Visual acuity and visual function tests determined that 85% of patients showed significant improvement in visual acuity.


Conclusion

It is important to note that macular degeneration is nearing epidemic type numbers in the US. Research and clinical studies validate the effectiveness of using microcurrent stimulation to treat macular degeneration. AMD and other similar retinal diseases are otherwise untreatable by any means, making electrical acupuncture the only current viable option for those suffering from this disease.






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