Roughly 85% of people with macular degeneration (MD) have what’s called the “dry form“. This is a milder form of MD, although it can still cause a significant loss of vision. The situation is that in some people, the dry form progresses to more severe forms of MD – “geographic atrophy“ and “wet macular degeneration“. Of the two, more folks get “wet macular degeneration“, but “geographic atrophy“ is more severe.
The treatment for wet MD is expensive and dangerous. People don’t want to have their eyeballs injected with a drug every 4 weeks for the price of roughly $US50,000 per annum.
A new study is now shaking up the opthalmology world. These drugs are causing geographic atrophy.
Researchers looked at 1,024 patients with wet MD. All were receiving regular injections into their eyes with one of the two drugs used for this form of MD: Lucentis (ranibizumab) or Avastin (bevacizumab). At the start of the study, no patients had any signs of geographic atrophy.
At the end of the study 2 years later, it all changed. A huge 287 of them had developed it. That’s an average of 18.3%. The possibility of having geographic atrophy in the US in those 75 years and older is only 3.5%. This means that if you’re over 75 years, these injections will increase our risk of getting geographic atrophy by 500%! The risk is even greater if you are younger.
Atrophy refers to the degeneration and death of cells. With geographic atrophy, it refers to the degeneration and death of cells in the retina, especially in the macula. The macula is the area of the retina where vision is the sharpest.
Geographic atrophy is serious business because it results in the degeneration of the deepest cells of the retina called the retinal pigment epithelium, or RPE. The RPE helps maintain the health of our cones and rods in the eye.
These are the photoreceptor cells in the next deepest layer of the eye. The cones and rods are what allow us to convert light and images into sight. They are what make it possible to see. The degeneration of the RPE that occurs from geographic atrophy leads to the death of the cones and rods. If severe enough, complete blindness is the result.
The Framingham Eye Study found that 20% of legal blindness in the USA is from geographic atrophy. This study show many of these cases could be due to the injections doctors have been prescribing to people.
Besides geographic atrophy, other side effects of the drugs include bleeding into the conjunctiva. This occurs up to 75% of the time. Eye pain occurs up to 35%. The aggravating floaters that prevent sight happen 27% of the time when people use these drugs. The chance of then getting cataracts goes up by some 28%. Other less common side effects are glaucoma, eye infections and retinal detachment.
If Avastin and Lucentis were the only treatments for macular degeneration, it may be worth the risks. In 1990, Dr. Eugenio Riva Sanseverino reported 20 patients with documented cases of either dry or wet macular degeneration.
Dr. Sanseverino first measured these patients visual acuity. He also used an imaging technique called fluorangiography which uses a dye and camera to measure the circulation and blood flow in the retina. After completing tests he gave the patients ozone therapy.
Dr. Frank Shallenberger summed up what he saw, “The results have indicated that the majority of patients showed an improvement in the ocular condition.“ After a series of one treatment per week for 14 weeks, both the visual acuity and the fluorangiography improved in 44% of patients with dry MD. This is amazing because there is currently no treatment for MD.
The wet form of MD progresses much faster and is more damaging to one’s vision. At 14 weeks, Dr. Sanseverino didn’t see any improvement in patients with the wet form of MD. But when he continued treatments for four months, he saw an improvement in 14% of patients and 68% of patients didn’t get any worse.
At 6 months, after 12 treatments, the visual acuity of the ozone group had improved. The visual acuity in the ozone group improved one or more lines in 4% of patients. This means that on the eye chart, 4% of the patients could read one or more lines higher than previously. And after 6 months more therapy things got a lot better. At that time, 25% of the patients showed a one or more line improvement.
Macular degeneration is a progressive disease that gets worse. However, in one year of ozone none of the 140 patients became worse.
The ozone group had other benefits. They all showed a decrease in levels of free radicals which translates to living longer and having less disease altogether. The ozone technique was invented by German physician Dr. Hans Wolf in 1961. It is called Major Auto-Hemotherapy (MAH). In MAH, blood is withdrawn from the patient. Ozone gas is then injected into the collected blood. The blood cells then immediately take up the ozone and then the treated blood is returned to the patient. This procedure takes roughly an hour.
Dr. Shallenberger uses a dose that is five times higher twice a week for 15 weeks instead of twice a month for a year. He found the results were faster and better. This is a treatment for the whole body. Not only do eyes get better, but the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, immune system, and circulation also benefit because MAH dramatically strengthens the body against the damages from free radicals. He found there was no supplement or other treatment that have such a remarkable effect. Patients getting MAH for MD tell him they have more energy, sleep better, and feel stronger.
Some convincing studies now show that the decline in melatonin production that happens with ageing is a factor behind why MD is so connected with getting older. One can get melatonin from most health stores.
If you have been diagnosed with this condition, don’t wait until your vision is compromised. Even with MAH, you may not be able to improve it. But if you commence treatments while your vision is still quite good, you can keep it that way.
Everyone over the age of 65 years should have an examination of their retina by an eye specialist. If there are signs of MD get proactive and start taking nutrients and get the MAH treatments. One can find a doctor trained in the treatment of MD with MAH through the American Academy of Ozonotherapy, at www.aaot.us