Microcurrent stimulation is being used to treat macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and other retinal diseases. The type of microcurrent that I use is a very specific form of extremely low current stimulation that has been shown to improve circulation, cellular metabolic function, and promote healing. Our results have been very positive.
Chinese medicine can treat people with dry and wet forms of macular degeneration, younger people with Stargardt’s disease and other forms of Juvenile Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Seripiginous Choroiditis, and Field Vision Cuts. A large percentage of these patients have responded positively to the treatments. Other centers using microcurrent are also reporting positive results in treating a wide variety of eye diseases.
What is microcurrent stimulation?
There are a number of devices that produce microcurrent for the treatment of different injuries and illnesses. Milli-amp and Micro-amp devices have been used for about 40 years in Western medicine to treat injuries, including sports injuries. Other uses of the treatment have become popular since the early seventies. The use of microcurrent for the treatment of eye disease is relatively recent.
The microcurrent generator that we use involves a very precise, low-current electrical stimulus that can be used to treat specific points on the body. The micro-amperage is adjustable between 20 microamps to 800 microamps. A microamp is one millionth of an ampere. The advantage clinically of being able to use microamp devices is that this corresponds more closely to the human nervous system than stronger currents used in other devices. This is a case where “less is better.”
There are specific points on the body, which have relatively much lower resistance than all other areas of the skin. These points of low electrical resistance correspond to classical acupuncture points. Because of the lowered skin resistance, the microcurrent more easily reaches the retina. The points that are used with microcurrent stimulation are chosen because it has been shown that stimulation of these acupuncture points benefits the eyes. Specific frequencies are automatically treated for specific time periods by the microcurrent device that we use. These frequencies and time sequences have been shown to be the most effective in treating retinal disease. The have been no adverse effects have been reported.
Why Doesn’t My Ophthalmologist Know About Microcurrent Stimulation?
Western physicians have been using the technology of microcurrent stimulation since the 1970’s to treat a variety of conditions. Some orthopedic surgeonsuse of this type of electrical stimulation to promote the healing of bone fractures that are not otherwise healing normally. Microcurrent stimulation is used to promote healing in soft tissue wounds and pressure sores that are slow to heal. It is used extensively in Sports Medicine, and by plastic surgeons in certain cases because of its ability to decrease the amount of scar tissue that forms after surgery. It is also used for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and in the treatment of TMJ syndrome.
Many specialists, including ophthalmologists, do not often have the time to read about research or new developments outside their own areas. Doctors that specialize in physical medicine, sports medicine, orthopedics, oral surgery, plastic surgery, and hand surgery are familiar with microcurrent because it is used in their specialties.
There are published studies on the effect of microcurrent stimulation and how it increases cellular energy potential, but again, this would be outside the usual area of interest of most eye doctors.
How Does the Microcurrent Work?
Certain microcurrent stimulators can affect electrical properties at the level of the cell membrane resulting in an increase in the energy production (in the form of increased ATP) of the cell by almost 500%. Enhancement of intracellular ATP concentrations is a known effect of microcurrent stimulation.
The Micorstim 100i LE is a constant current device, which tightly controls the delivery of current over a wide range of resistances, and incorporates some patented technology that allows these very low currents to penetrate very deeply into the tissues that are being treated without harm. It is important to provide a very low current stimulation, but to do it in such a way that you are treating more than just the surface of the skin.
There are many devices that are marketed as microcurrent stimulators, but those in reality are inadequate for the treatment of retinal disease. It has been demonstrated in scientific research that microcurrent stimulation can enhance blood circulation and increase ATP production. These two things are essential for normal cellular metabolism.
The microcurrent stimulators we use are made by MicroStim® Technologies, Inc. This is the preferred treatment device among centers treating eye disease because of the sophistication of the electrical technology. and also because it is user friendly for patients with impaired vision. MicroStim® Technologies, Inc is the leader in the field of safe and effective microcurrent devices.
What Should I Expect from the Treatment?
The rate of progress varies. Generally any progress is a slow progressive change. It is significant to note that both the “DRY” and “WET” forms can respond to treatment. We see patients who have had laser surgery, or get injections to treat the “wet” or exudative form of macular degeneration, and these patients can also improve.
Not all patients improve with this treatment, but in general the results are very encouraging, even when progress takes months of treatment. Some patients, who have not shown improvement, often report that their vision has not gotten worse. Patients need to remember that even a little improvement means that the disease is not progressing, and this is a huge accomplishment. Being able to stop the deterioration caused by this disease is a valuable achievement.
Expect to have treatments every other day. When patients improve with treatment and then stop treatment, they inevitably regress and loose progress until they resume treatment. This treatment is not some miracle cure or magic. It is based on known scientific, bio-physiological and bioelectrical principles. When the proper microcurrent device is used after proper training and daily use, some patients are able to achieve real improvement in vision.
What is treatment like?
Patients are trained on the use of the microcurrent machine so that they will be able to use it in their own home. There is no pain involved with the treatments. The specific device we use is made by a technologies company that has developed a machine that is user friendly for low vision patients and it is automated to make its use simple and easy. Treatment time is about 5 minutes and we ask patients to treat themselves 3 times each day. This treatment can increase ATP to the retina, but it does not reverse or change the genetics that cause retinal diseases. Treatments cannot be stopped or regression will occur. The video on our website includes several patients talking about their own experiences using the Microstim treatment.
Is it safe?
No side effects or adverse outcomes related to the procedure have been seen so far. Specifically, no increase in the conversion to the wet form of macular degeneration has been seen in those treated. This means, that although this treatment is thought to work by improving circulation, it has not been seen to increase any tendency to bleed or produce exudates. The National Institutes of Health recently published a Consensus Statement on Acupuncture (November, 1997) that included studies of treatments using microcurrent stimulation at acupuncture points for the treatment of stimulation at acupuncture points for the treatment of pain and various musculo-skeletal problems. The NIH Consensus Statement reports that, “One of the advantages … is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions.”
What Types Of AMD Can Be Treated?
Some people assume that the “wet” for of AMD is either not treatable or very difficult to treat. We have found this not to be true. Many patients with the “wet” form have responded well. In fact they respond as well as patients with the “dry” form. Often patients have had either hot or ‘cold’ laser surgery, or injections. Laser surgery can create scaring on or near the macula. It is our experience that the results of damage from laser surgery can slow down progress. Fortunately, the use of laser for treating the wet form of macular degeneration is not often used any longer.