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Optic nerve damage in glaucoma is partially reversible
Glaucoma (glaucoma) is characterized by optic nerve damage, which often leads to blindness in those affected and has long been considered irreversible. Physicians from the Universities of Göttingen and Magdeburg and the Charité University Medicine Berlin have now been able to demonstrate in a current study that AC impulses in partially blind glaucoma patients can significantly improve vision.
After ten days of treatment with the smallest alternating current stimulation (ACS), the study led by Professor Dr. Bernhard A. Sabel, director of the Institute for Medical Psychology at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, made a significant improvement in vision in partially blind patients. "The treatment led to the activation of residual visual performance and improvements in quality of life such as visual acuity, reading, mobility and orientation in the room," said the Magdeburg University Hospital. The researchers published their results in the specialist journal "PLOS ONE".
Patients examined in three clinical centers
The current study involved 82 patients, of whom 33 suffered from vision loss due to glaucoma, 32 patients with anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (caused by inflammation, optic nerve compression or congenital abnormalities such as Leber's hereditary optic atrophy) and eight patients in one Loss of vision due to several causes. The patients were examined in the clinical centers of the Berlin Charité, the University Clinic Magdeburg and the University Medical Center Göttingen. This was divided into two groups: an experimental group with 45 patients and a control group with 37 people.
Ten-day treatment with far-reaching success
The subjects in the test group were treated with AC stimulation for 50 minutes each for ten days, and treatment in the control group was carried out with only a very small dose of stimulation, according to the Magdeburg University Hospital. Regarding the age of the lesion and visual performance, the two groups were comparable before starting treatment, the researchers report. During the treatment, an AC pulse was given by placing electrodes on the skin near the eyes. Immediately after the therapy, the researchers checked the changes in vision and checked the stability of the improvements in another eye test two months later.
Restoration of visual performance after optic nerve damage
The researchers found that the patients in the test group had significantly greater improvements (24 percent) in the detection of visual stimuli than the patients in the comparison group (2.5%). This is due to improvements in the defective sector of the visual field by 59% in the treated group. "The benefit of the stimulation was stable two months after the treatment," said the Magdeburg University Hospital. "AC treatment is a safe and effective means of restoring vision after optic nerve damage," reports Professor Dr. Saber. For the first time, it has been proven in a large-scale study that clinically measurable improvements in vision can be achieved using low electrical currents.
AC treatment suitable for clinical use in patients
According to the researchers, no significant side effects occurred in any of the participants and only in a few cases did the subjects report temporary, slight dizziness or headaches. The study confirmed the results of earlier, smaller studies showing the effectiveness and safety of AC stimulation. These studies have already made it clear that well-functioning brain networks are of crucial importance for the processing of visual information. These can be synchronized again by the alternating current, which activates and strengthens the residual vision, according to Prof. Now further studies are required to investigate the mechanisms of action of the treatment even more intensively. However, the current results clearly show "that the use of AC treatment in clinical use is suitable for patients with visual impairments" and in summary it can be said that "the loss of vision, which was long considered irreversible, is partially reversible", emphasizes Prof "There is light at the end of the tunnel for patients with glaucoma or optic nerve damage," the study leader concluded. (fp)