Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the major cause of blindness in the United States in persons over 55 years of age.1 AMD damages the retinal tissue in the macular area causing fine pigmentary stippling, retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) changes, and the development of drusen.2 Drusen are the precipitation of cellular waste materials in the RPE. Reports estimate that over 18 million adults in the United States currently suffer from AMD. Some of these same reports estimate that this will rise to 30 million by the year 2010.3
Traditional therapies offer no treatment for macular degeneration. However, 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. Results of clinical studies indicate that microcurrent stimulation can enhance the cellular ATP synthesizing capabilities, specifically in the retina, and thus provide a means to improve visual acuity for AMD patients. Microcurrent stimulation of acupunc-ture points is currently the only viable option for those suffering from AMD.
Research and Clinical Studies
August Reader, MD, a neuroretinologist, and Grace Halloran, PhD, completed a double blind study that indicated positive results from micro-current 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, all microcurrent was delivered to the retina via acupuncture points.
Over a one-year period 42 patients 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. Patients were also educated in the use of nutritional supplements considered supportive for ocular conditions.
42 patients used microcurrent stimulation to treat acupuncture points near the eye. The average age of patients was 77.6 years. Treatment was 2 to 3 times per day, every day. Visual acuity and VF-14 tests were done every three months. Of these initial forty-two (42) patients, 36 (85.7%) showed improvement in visual acuity of 2 lines or more. Three (3) patients showed improvement of one line of visual acuity. Two (2) patients showed no improvement. And one (1) patient lost one line of visual acuity. The average change in visual acuity for all patients was +2.88 lines. VF-14 test results showed a positive change of an average of 35 points.ConclusionIt is important to note that macular degeneration is nearing epidemic 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 devastating disease. Dr. Joel Rossen developed the original protocol for using microcurrent stimulation to treat RP and AMD. I want to thank him for his pioneering research and development.
- Gene Bruno is the past president of the AAOM and currently a Director. His practice is located in Salem, Oregon. The summer edition of the American Acupuncturist will contain one of his articles entitled, “Treatment of Age-related Macular Degeneration with Microcurrent Stimulation.” He teaches classes on the treatment of Macular Degeneration. In September 2005 he will be teaching a course sponsored by the Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Chicago.
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