The following is from WebMD (http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/macular-degeneration/age-related-macular-degeneration-overview) and represents treatments offered by most eye physicians in the US.
What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 60. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Because the disease develops as a person ages, it is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although macular degeneration is almost never a totally blinding condition, it can be a source of significant visual disability.
There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration:
Dry form. The "dry" form of macular degeneration is characterized by the presence of yellow deposits, called drusen, in the macula. A few small drusen may not cause changes in vision; however, as they grow in size and increase in number, they may lead to a dimming or distortion of vision that people find most noticeable when they read. In more advanced stages of dry macular degeneration, there is also a thinning of the light-sensitive layer of cells in the macula leading to atrophy, or tissue death. In the atrophic form of dry macular degeneration, patients may have blind spots in the center of their vision. In the advanced stages, patients lose central vision.
Wet form. The "wet" form of macular degeneration is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels from the choroid underneath the macula. This is called choroidal neovascularization. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, causing distortion of vision that makes straight lines look wavy, as well as blind spots and loss of central vision. These abnormal blood vessels and their bleeding eventually form a scar, leading to permanent loss of central vision.
Most patients with macular degeneration have the dry form of the disease and can lose some form of central vision. However, the dry form of macular degeneration can lead to the wet form. Although only about 10% of people with macular degeneration develop the wet form, they make up the majority of those who experience serious vision loss from the disease.
There is no cure, but age-related macular degeneration treatments may prevent severe vision loss or slow the progression of the disease considerably. Several treatment options are available, including:
Anti-angiogenic drugs. These medications -- injected into the eye -- block the development of new blood vessels and leakage from the abnormal vessels within the eye that cause wet macular degeneration. This treatment has been a major change in the treatment of this condition and many patients have actually regained vision that was lost. The treatment may need to be repeated on follow-up visits.
Laser therapy. High-energy laser light can sometimes be used to destroy actively growing abnormal blood vessels that occur in age-related macular degeneration.
Photodynamic laser therapy. A two-step treatment in which a light-sensitive drug is used to damage the abnormal blood vessels. A medication is injected into the bloodstream to be absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. The doctor then shines a cold laser into the eye to activate the drug, damaging the abnormal blood vessels.
Vitamins . A large study performed by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, called AREDS -- Age-Related Eye Disease Study -- showed that for certain individuals, vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper can decrease the risk of vision loss in patients with intermediate to advanced dry age-related macular degeneration.
Dr. Tennant believes that a closer look at published studies and and basic physiology/pathology allows one to offer additional insights in dealing with macular degeneration.
First one must understand that the macula functions almost as a separate extension of the nervous system. Whereas the rest of the retina contains receptors for light vs. dark called rods, the macula contains receptors for color and fine detail called cones. The macula has its own blood supply called the choroid whereas the rest of the retina gets its blood supply from the retinal blood vessels. It also has its own acupuncture muscle battery pack (stomach meridian) whereas the rest of the retina and optic nerve are on the liver acupuncture muscle battery pack.
The National Institutes of Health have published, “There are other situations --- in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program.”
The macular cells wear out faster than any other cells in the body and thus have to be replaced every 2-3 days. That leads us to the question, “What does it take to make new cells that work?”
Making new cells requires:
• Minus 50 millivolts of energy. Millivolts is the measurement of voltage in a solution. A pH meter reads the millivolts and converts that to a logarithmic scale called pH. Any cellular biology book will tell you that cells are designed to run at minus 25 millivolts (pH of 7.45) but it requires double that to make a new cell. (Note: if you measure across a cell membrane, you will get minus ninety millivolts). This voltage comes from a combination of ATP in the mitochondria, voltage stored in the cell membrane capacitor, and voltage from the stomach acupuncture muscle battery. According to NASA studies, the use of pulsed electromagnetic fields helps provide this voltage and increases the rate of making cells up to four times.
•Making cell membrane. Cell membranes are made from opposing pairs of special fats called phospholipids. The formation of these phospholipids form an electronic capacitor. They are made in the endoplasmic reticulum of the cell from fats provided by the liver. To absorb fats, the liver needs to make bile and the gall bladder needs to provide it to the digestive process. If you don’t have a gall bladder, you must supplement bile with meals for this system to work correctly. In addition, stomach acid hitting the small intestine causes the pancreas to make a hormone called cholecystokinin. This is the hormone that tells the liver to make bile and the gall bladder to dump it. Thus if you don’t have stomach acid, the liver and gall bladder never get the signal to work. Making stomach acid requires vitamin B1, iodine, zinc, salt, and the voltage to do it. Thus if you are deficient in these nutrients or if you are taking drugs to shut down stomach acid, you will have trouble making cell membranes that work correctly!
• The inside of neurons is fifty percent cholesterol by weight. Thus making cells in the macula requires a large amount and ongoing supply of cholesterol. If you take drugs to prevent your liver from making cholesterol, it will be very hard for your macula to keep itself repaired! Some are concerned that stopping your cholesterol medication will significantly increase your risk of having a heart attack. The following chart shows a summary of effectiveness of these drugs in decreasing heart attacks. What these studies show is that only an average of two percent of the population will reduce their risk of a heart attack by taking these drugs. Most people with macular degeneration would rather increase their risk of having a heart attack by two percent than the likelihood of going blind from macular degeneration.
• Cells are about 70% water. However, the water in cells is not H20. It is an electron donor form of water H3O2 called “the fourth phase of water” by Dr. Pollack at the University of Washington. The amount of water inside cells is dictated by the voltage of the cells. One can have excess total body water but be dehydrated inside the cells. This can be measured with a device used by all physiology labs called Biological Impedance Analysis Device.
•To function normally, cells need oxygen. The amount of oxygen that will dissolve in water is dictated by the voltage of the water. This is called the Bohr Effect.
•The amount of oxygen available to cells is dictated by the quality of circulation to that area. The diameter of arterioles is controlled by nitric oxide. Essentially everyone past the age of forty-five is deficient in nitric oxide (that’s why grandma has cold hands!) When there is deficient oxygen in tissue, it attempts to correct the situation by growing new blood vessels into the area (angiogenesis). This is what converts dry macular degeneration into wet macular degeneration. To combat wet macular degeneration, one needs to correct nitric oxide levels so more oxygen is delivered to the tissue using normal blood vessels and to increase the voltage of the cells so the oxygen will actually enter the cells!
Nitric oxide is the most studied substance in all of medicine---over 100,000 published articles! A summary can be found in the textbook Nitrite and Nitrate in Human Health and Disease by Nathan Bryan, PhD.
Several methods of increasing nitric oxide have been described using herbs, vitamins and minerals as well as using sulfur and sunshine. They are important in the resolution of wet macular degeneration.
One method of resolving lack of oxygen in various conditions including wet macular degeneration is hyperbaric oxygen. At atmospheric pressure, almost everyone has 95-98% saturation of their hemoglobin unless they have serious lung disease. It is lack of nitric oxide that allows this oxygen to be delivered to the macula. If one increases the atmospheric pressure, oxygen dissolves into the plasma (liquid) of the blood. This immediately delivers oxygen to the macula, eliminating the demand for the body to make the small blood vessels invading the macula due to lack of oxygen.
One of the problems with the use of VEGF drugs injected into the eye to shut down the small blood vessels is that you haven’t addressed the real cause---lack of oxygen. Since the lack of oxygen is still present, the body will send new blood vessels into the low oxygen macula over and over and over again. It is common to inject the eye with these drugs to shut down the little vessels every six weeks or so for the rest of your life. Each time you shut down the little vessels, the oxygen supply diminishes more. What makes more sense to me is to correct the lack of oxygen.
It is sometimes necessary to use the VEGF shots to stop active bleeding and buy some time to get the oxygen levels better.
There are other issues involved but perhaps this is adequate to demonstrate that restricting treatment of macular degeneration to AREDS vitamins, VEGF injections, and/or laser treatments ignores additional possibilities for slowing down or eliminating the problem.
Remember that when you make new cells, they cannot push a scar out of the way. Scarred maculae cannot be recovered.
At the Tennant Institute for Integrative Medicine, you will be offered to have your macular degeneration treated with the standard-of-care therapies as noted above. You may also choose to have the additional therapies that are supported by the National Institutes of Health and published in medical journals but are not yet considered standard-of-care.
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