> Macular Degeneration

Treatment for Macular Degeneration


Frequency Specific Microcurrent, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Intravenous Nutrition Therapy, more macular degeneration treatment. Diet, vitamins, supplements. Symptoms, test, chart. Research studies.


Before reading any further,
see our medical disclaimer.


Note that the terms age-related macular degeneration (which is what we're discussing here), AMD, and ARMD are used interchangeably to mean the same thing here.

Macular degeneration symptoms

  • Impaired central vision
  • Blind spots
  • Lines that are straight look wavy
  • Objects appear different in shape or color in each of the eyes
Amsler Grid for macular degeneration

Detecting Early AMD: The Amsler Grid Macular Degeneration Test
You can get some indication of whether you have AMD by using the Amsler Grid chart, which has vertical and horizontal lines and a dot in the middle. Take the Amsler Grid test by staring at the dot. If the lines surrounding the dot bulge or are wavy, you should see a doctor. Here's the definition of an Amsler Grid with directions for use. You can find printable Amsler Grids on the Internet; for example, there's a printable Amsler Grid here.

Alternative Treatment for macular degeneration

Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM)

Frequency specific microcurrent stimulation, or FSM, delivers two specific frequencies simultaneously. See this study: Microcurrent stimulation in the treatment of dry and wet macular degeneration, for scientific data on this treatment.

According to Robert Jay Rowen, M.D., frequency specific microcurrent for eyes was pioneered by ophthalmologist Ed Kondrot, M.D., of Phoenix (602-631-4504). When Dr. Kondrot started using FSM with frequencies specific to eyes, he got extraordinary results. Dr. Rowen said that his father, who has ARMD, was able to read three more lines on the reading eye chart in just minutes after treatment with frequency specific microcurrent stimulation.

Says Dr. Rowen, "FSM is completely legal and even approved by the FDA. FSM machines are a class-2 (safe) device approved for sale by the FDA as a TENS unit, very commonly used for pain, although it is more sensitive than TENS, says Dr. Rowen. And it's becoming more widely available. Several hundred practitioners have been trained. You can find a doctor who uses FSM at the treatment's official website." The Web site is at www.frequencyspecific.com. Home units, at $1,300 to $4,000 are available by prescription from a trained doctor.

In-office treatments last about an hour.

Someone has posted an image of Dr. Rowen's August 2002 newsletter on this subject, so you can see much more info. Back then he was calling it microcurrent stimulation, or MCS.

For a list of practitioners, click here.

See the  many uses of FSM for pain relief on our Frequency Specific Microcurrent page.

TENS for AMD

In his April 2011 newsletter, Alternatives, medical researcher Dr. David Williams references a two-year study of 46 patients done by three doctors of optometry of the Indiana University School of Optometry. The patients had treatment for macular degeneration with a TENS device. 

In addition, the patients took the following supplements, half in the morning and half in the evening:

Beta-carotene 40,000 IU
Natural vitamin E 400 IU
Vitamin C 1,500 mg
Citrus bioflavonoid complex 250 mg
Quercetin 100 mg
Bilberry extract 10 mg
Rutin 100 mg
Zinc 25 mg
Selenium 100 mcg (micrograms)
Taurine 200 mg
N-acetylcysteine 200 mg
L-glutathione 10 mg
Vitamin B1 100 mg
Vitamine B2 15 mg

The vision of patients with AMD would normally deteriorate over two years, but these patients improved, showing and whopping average of 8.5 letters of acuity per eye.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Looking for a new macular degeneration treatment? Check out hyperbaric oxygen therapy, also known as HBOT. See this study: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy and age-related macular degeneration for scientific info on this treatment.

Oxygen deficiency is part of the cause of AMD. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy infuses needed oxygen into damaged cells under pressure. HBOT dissolves oxygen into your body, diffusing it everywhere, even into hard-to-reach inflamed and swollen areas, including the retina and the macula.

Robert Jay Rowen, M.D., says that his friend, David Steenblock, DO, of Mission Viejo, California has had success with hyperbaric oxygen therapy for AMD. 

Dr. Rowen also mentions a report by Drs. Jansen and Nielson from Copenhagen, Denmark, which details two case histories of ARMD patients improving with HBOT. Both patients had cystoid macular degeneration. One patient, a type-2 diabetic, went from a visual acuity of 0.5 (difficulty reading), to 1.0, where he could read normally, with just one treatment. 

The second patient’s visual acuity was only 0.2; he could not read at all. After five sessions of HBOT in three days, his acuity was 0.9, where he could read normally.

These Denmark doctors saw a "very rapid," day-by-day improvement in the macula and recommend that treatment be started as early as possible, before there is irreversible damage.

Dr. Rowen says that current medical thinking has abandoned the idea that high pressure in a metal chamber is necessary for good results, because improvement is also seen with new fabric "mild" hyperbaric chambers. Some doctors think lower pressure is better for some conditions.

Dr. Rowen uses the Oxy Health mild chamber. (www.oxyhealth.com) He says it’s lightweight, portable and relatively inexpensive. He says that a typical series of office treatments would be twenty sessions.

To find a doctor who uses hyperbaric oxygen therapy, contact ACAM, the American College for the Advancement of Medicine at www.acam.com or 1-888-439-6891.

Ozone therapy as treatment for macular degeneration

In his April 2010 newsletter, Dr. Rowen says, re AMD: "from the groundbreaking research of Italian researcher Velio Bocci, M.D. , I'd suggest a visit to a physician who offers ozone therapy. It can work wonders on this eye disease," he says. Check out this study: Visual Improvement Following Ozonetherapy in Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration. To find a practitioner, go to http://www.acam.org/? and click on "Find a practitioner near you.

Intravenous nutrient therapy

In his August 2010 issue of Bottom Line Natural Healing, Mark Stengler, licensed naturopathic medical doctor, discusses intravenous nutrient therapy for ARMD. Although no clinical studies have been done, some anecdotal results have been impressive, for example, seeing more clearly after one 90 minute treatment.

During intravenous (IV) nutrient therapy, a cocktail of vitamins and other nutrients go directly into the bloodstream via the IV, providing much higher levels of nutrients than a patient could get from taking supplements by mouth. Nutrients include vitamin C, selenium, zinc, chromium and l-carnitine.  Patients must take tests to make sure their kidneys and liver can handle the treatments.

Patients who have had this IV therapy claim positive results, including getting back most of the sight they had lost to either wet or dry ARMD. IV therapy also stops progression of the disease.

Dr. Stengler notes that Paul Anderson, ND, a professor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University near Seattle, created the IV nutrient therapy for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Dr. Anderson gives patients at least six to 12 infusions depending on their age. Each treatment takes 90 to 120 minutes and costs $150 to $200 as this is written in 2010.

After finishing the treatments, patients can maintain their good results by eating healthy foods and taking oral supplements.

~~~

Jonathan Wright, M.D., who specializes in nutritional treatments in his practice near Tacoma, Washington, says he has a 70 percent success rate on his intravenous nutritional treatment for dry ARMD. 

The treatment can take several months, although most see some improvement in four to six weeks.

To see more info from Dr. Wright about this, click here.

Natural remedies for macular degeneration

Macular degeneration diet

Low Glycemic Foods
The glycemic index is a chart that rates how fast a food raises your blood sugar. A study examined the diets of  4,099 people between the ages of 55 and 80 as to how their intake of high glycemic foods affected their risk of developing ARMD.
 
People whose diets showed them in the top 20% of the dietary glycemic index (as compared to the lowest) showed a 49% increased risk for advanced AMD. To change to more low-glycemic foods, go to www.glycemicindex.com to find out how foods rank on the glycemic index. Clue: vegetables and meats rate the lowest.

Fruit
Boston hospital researchers studied 77,562 women in the Nurses Health Study and another 40,866 men in the Health Professionals Followup Study to find out how diet affected the health of their eyes. The study found that participants who ate three or more servings per day of fruit had a 36 percent lower risk of the worst kind of AMD compared to those eating only 1.5 servings per day.

The researchers think it’s the pigments found in highly colored fruit that protect against ARMD. These pigments are  flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants and vascular protectors. Eat at least three servings a day.

Supplements as treatment for macular degeneration

OcuDyne
Jonathan Wright, M.D., who specializes in nutritional medicine, recommends Ocudyne II, the newest version, which he formulated with Dr. Alan Gaby. He claims it has a 70 percent success rate in arresting or reversing early AMD. It contains over thirty nutrients, including lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin A, C, D, and E, selenium, zinc, riboflavin, taurine and ginkgo biloba. You can find it at your health food store or on the Internet. .

Here’s a link in case you’re curious about the entire ingredient list of OcuDyne II.

Dr. Wright also says to eliminate all refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, partially hydrogenated fatty acids, non-food chemicals, and all other forms of junk food. Easier said than done, right? One baby step at a time.

Omega-3, co-enzyme Q-10 and Acetyl-l-carnitine

In his April 2010 newsletter, Robert J. Rowen, M.D. describes a study by Italian researchers who combined omega-3 fatty acids, co-enzyme Q-10 and acetyl-L-carnitine for patients with early age-related macular degeneration. "The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found statistically significant improvements in central visual field and visual acuity. It also found improvements in eye alterations after three to six months of treatment." See this study: "Improvement of visual functions...in early age-related macular degeneration ...with acetyl-L-carnitine, n-3 fatty acids, and coenzyme Q-10" for details.

Selenium
In 1977, Dr. Joseph Bittner was a resident of eastern Washington state, an area with selenium deficient soils. When he took selenium and vitamin E supplements, his macular degeneration improved. Dr. Wright heard about this and told his AMD patients.  Some got a lot better; one got so much better that his opthamologist said his original diagnosis must have been a mistake. But some did not get better.

Studies show that people with ARMD have significantly lower selenium levels than age-matched individuals who don’t have AMD. 

Good sources of selenium include liver and kidney (organic only), brewer’s yeast, ocean fish (low-mercury), and red meat.  Other good sources are some vegetables grown in soil with adequate selenium, including onions, garlic, mushrooms, and broccoli.

Zinc

Our retinas contain high concentrations of zinc, and zinc has been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration. In a 1988 trial, people with ARMD who took 45 milligrams of zinc orally each day lost significantly less vision than those who took placebos.
 
Oysters are the best source of zinc. Red meat, shellfish and fish (low mercury) are also good sources, as are pumpkin seeds, other nuts and seeds, beans, and whole grains, wheat germ and poultry.

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin "retards the progress of degenerative eye diseases and benefits the vision of the individuals suffering from degenerative eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration," according to University of Illinois researchers. Astaxanthin is found in pink fish and seafood, such as shrimp, crawfish, crab, lobster, trout, and salmon, especially free-range, North Pacific sockeye salmon. It is also found in certain kinds of algae.

B vitamins

Studies have shown that riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps maintain normal retina function.

Good sources of riboflavin include liver and kidney, as well as brewer’s yeast. Almonds, mushrooms, wheat bran, and dark green leafy vegetables are also good sources.

The risk of progression from early AMD to a more serious condition known as geographic atrophy can be decreased by taking the B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin and folate, says Frank Shallenberger, M.D. in his newsletter, Second Opinion, 12/16.

Vitamin D

Robert Rowen, M.D. puts a high value on Vitamin D for AMD. He says that Vitamin D may be useful as a treatment for wet macular degeneration. Vitamin D not only stops the underlying process of wet AMD, called neovascularization, it can reduce it and also reduce abnormal retinal endothelial cell proliferation. Dr. Rowen recommends 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, summer and winter. Make sure it’s D3; look on the container.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

An ARMD diet would include foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids—major components of retinal pigments, which enable vision. Studies show that people with the highest intake of lutein and zeaxanthin have a 57 percent lower risk of developing AMD.

A study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison involved examining the diets of more than 1,700 women ages 50 to 79. Those younger than 75 who ate a diet rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which block free radical damage to the retina, appear to have lowered their risk of intermediate AMD. 

You can get lutein and zeaxanthin from foods or supplements.  Good food sources are leafy green vegetables, such as kale, collard greens, and spinach.

Injections for wet AMD

Although this site focuses on alternative medicine, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you about my husband's experience with wet macular degeneration injections. His opthamologist, Jason Jones, M.D., Spokane Eye Clinic, recommended injections of the drug Avastin. He took them, and over a period of one to two years, with injections every six to 12 weeks, his wet macular degeneration symptoms disappeared ("except when I look at the Amsler Grid, when I see maybe three distorted lines," says my husband.) Dr. Jones said at the last visit that he didn't see any fluid (a good thing), and that at the next visit, he would decide what to do next, if anything. One person's success story.  

Note that many of the treatments on this page will have a positive effect on both dry and wet macular degeneration. Click the links to scientific studies for more info. Ask the doctor who is using these treatments for you about whether they are effective for your type of ARMD.

Sources:

Bottom Line Natural Healing with Dr. Mark Stengler, August 2010

The Most Urgent Health Discoveries of the Year, from Health Sciences Institute, 2002

Second Opinion newsletter, by Robert Jay Rowen, M.D. November 2002, February 2005, November 2005, February 2006, March 2006

Second Opinion Health Alert, May 16 2007, August 1, 2007, October 12, 2007

Nutrition & Healing newsletter, by Jonathan Wright, M.D., February 2005

Nutrition & Healing Health e-Tips, by Jonathan Wright, M.D., October 12, 2006, Oct 26 2006

Emedicinehealth.com

Secondary References
"Nutritional Factors in Degenerative Eye Disorders: Cataract and Macular Degeneration," by Alan R. Gaby, M.D., and Jonathan Wright, M.D.

Archives of Opthalmology, June 2004; Stroke, July 2, 2004

Flood, V.M., B. Chua, et al. "Dietary fatty acids and the five year incidence of age-related maculopathy," 2005; 14 Suppl:S82

"Association between dietary glycemic index and age-related macular degeneration in nondiabetic participants in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study," Chiu CJ, Taylor A, et al, J Clin Nutr07; 86(1): 180-188

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2007; 16(5): 929-33; Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2007; 48(5)

American Journal of Ophthalmology, January 2006

New England Journal of Medicine, February 9, 2006

Cheng, Gnok. Journal of Clinical Orthopedics, 1982, vol. 171

Acta Ophthalmologica Scandinavia, 2004, 82(4)

"Cigarette smoking, fish consumption, omega-3 fatty acid intake, and associations with age-related macular degeneration: The U.S. twin study of age-related macular degeneration," Archives of Ophthamology 2006;124:995-1001


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> Macular Degeneration

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