Information about the hospital system and about getting medical treatment in Germany.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Help for Glaucoma Impaired Vision?

One of the most frequent causes for partial blindness is glaucoma. Ophtalmologists tell their patients, that the situation, once it has developed, cannot be cured or improved. The reason for this verdict is, that patial glaucoma blindness is caused by damage to the optical nerve - nervus opticus - and current medical standards maintain that nerve damage cannot be repaired.
There is, however, increasing evidence that this view is too harsh. Neuronal plasticity is the word, implying that in the nervous system there is certain ability to repair damage, not making total restitution possible but showing improvement of residual eyesight. And such improvements are possible even many years after the damage occured.
It is a German researcher, Prof. Sabel, who has been exploring ways to utilize neuronal plasticity to rehabilitate the optical system after damage, due to stroke, glaucoma and other causes, for many years. In 2011, he associated a Russian researcher to his group, Dr. Anton Fedorov, who had been working on the use of electro-stimuli for various therpeutic purposes in Russia, and a new treatment scheme was developed. First published results looked promising -
The author of this blog has been following these developments for years and decided to give the new treatment a try in October 2013. A left eye with about 20% residual eyesight after glaucoma has been troubling him since 2008.
One treatment cycle with Prof. Sabel and the method called noninvasive repetitive transorbital alternating current stimulation (rtACS), takes 10 working days, every there is a session of about 30 minutes on the micro-electric stimulus machine, extensive diagnostics before and after the cycle is done to document the initial status and the immediate results.
However, it is made very clear that the treatment concept is a rehabilition treatment, based on the general idea that rehabilitation after many kinds of damage to limbs and/or nerves usually relies on stimulus and training to regain functionality. Equally, rtACS treated patients are encouraged to continue daily training routines for the eye in order to stabilaze and enhance the treatment results.
Before treatment
After treatment
And what are these results? Well, in terms of measurable effects, the author has only achieved modest improvements. 
In anterior diagnostics he managed to see 25% of the light spots appearing in the perimeter test, posterior results were around 29%. Yet, there are definitely new areas where some partial vison seems to be returning, and at the subjective level clear improvements are observed, although not really in the areas which show improvements in the test..

Conclusion: The rtACS method is definitely able to initiate a process of improvement, especially where there is some residual sight to stimulate. Micacles, in the sense of curing blindness, are not possible and not to be expected. But if, like in the author’s case, there is a return of some sight in the lower part of the visual field, that can be a very important result already: You can see, where you are going!
Based on this experience, German Hospital Service will be more than willing to help interested international patients to profit from this novel treatment. There are considerable waiting lists at Prof. Sabel’s Institute already.