First oral agent to quell invasive macular degeneration, restore lost vision
There may be new found hope for patients whose vision is threatened when medicine injected directly into the eyes fails to cause abnormal blood vessels to recede. While injectable drugs called angiogenesis (an-gee-oh-jen-esis) inhibitors are considered a modern miracle and have become the standard of care for patients with the fast-progressive form of macular degeneration, they are not foolproof. For the first time researchers report that an oral nutriceutical, used on a last resort basis, rapidly restores vision to otherwise hopeless patients who face permanent loss.
Stuart Richer OD, PhD, Director, Ocular Preventative Medicine-Eye Clinic, James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, North Chicago, Illinois, says all other therapies were exhausted before employing the oral nutriceutical under compassionate-use protocols on a case-by-case basis. Usually most patients respond to medicine injected directly into the eyes, he says, but about one in three patients recover driving vision and one in six patients go on to experience permanent vision loss and others may refuse needle injections directly into the eyes, making them candidates for this rescue medicine.
Three successfully treated cases were presented at the annual Association For Research In Vision & Ophthalmology meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
One striking case is an 88-year old woman whom retinal specialists said was beyond any help offered by conventional medicines or surgery. The nutriceutical helped this hospitalized woman regain her ability to see faces, read a menu and visualize her handwriting in just four days. "As she was an inpatient were also able to observe that her 40-year history of low-blood pressure and migraines improved after months of use," said Dr. Richer.
In another case a 75-year old man with failing vision experienced recovery of vision in 5 days and was able to renew his driver's license after taking just 7 nutriceutical capsules.
Dr. Richer says 16 of the first 17 cases responded positively to nutriceutical medicine. There were no side effects reported. Because these patients faced impending loss of vision, for ethical reasons no patients received inactive placebo pills. He says it is unknown whether this nutriceutical produces such positive results in the more common dry form of macular degeneration, but the benefit to vision is typically observed in both eyes and is self-evident.
Dr. Richer says in these first cases he has monitored, blind spots (called scotomas) disappear, time to recover from bright light (glare recovery) is reduced, and contrast vision (shades of grey) as well as visual acuity (ability to see letters on a chart) generally improve within 3-6 weeks with the nutriceutical. "With our instruments we documented a more youthful appearance of retinal tissues as well as improved underlying circulation. There were also other improvements in health observed or measured outside of the eyes that were unanticipated," notes Dr. Richer.
Only in recent years has there been a reliable way to treat wet macular degeneration, a disorder where abnormal blood vessels invade the visual center (macula) of the eyes. Any of three FDA-approved drugs, Avastin, Lucentis and Eylea, are needle-injected into the white of the eye to diminish the formation of these abnormal blood vessels. These are considered miracle drugs. Re-treatment is usually necessary every six to eight weeks. However, since these drugs are not foolproof, oral antioxidant therapy was employed with measurable success.
Dr. Richer selected a particular nutriceutical mixture of vitamins and small herbal molecules (Longevinex®) because of its extensive testing and proven ability to favorably alter genes in a superior manner to other available nutriceuticals. Dr. Richer cautions that other similar store-bought products are not likely to produce the same rapid results seen among his patients. He advises patients not to risk their vision with unproven products. Nor should patients consider this oral medicine supplants injected medicine.
While the nutriceutical used in this report is non-prescription and directly available to patients and could be used alongside injected drugs, Dr. Richer advises physician consultation prior to its use. It still remains unproven until it is evaluated in broader studies, says Richer, who adds: "this oral nutriceutical taps into the newly appreciated science of epigenetics, where gene protein-making switches are favorably turned on and off, and suggests that age-related eye problems may not be inevitably progressive and biological age is not necessarily cast in stone." There is new-found hope for recovery of lost vision, regardless of the patient's image.