|DISCLAIMER: The data presented here has not been reviewed by the FDA, nor has it been peer reviewed. The microcurrent devices used are approved by the FDA for the treatment of pain, but they have not been approved for other uses. The use of a device for an off-label use by a physician is legal. The use of microcurrent stimulation discussed here is only one part of a comprehensive program for supporting visual health. Dr. Miller is not a manufacturer of these devices, and the material presented here is informational, and is not intended as simply a solicitation to sell devices.If you have further questions about the work being done by Dr. Miller, please contact his office to arrange an appointment or consultation.
What You Can Do Now:
In this office and in several other centers around the country, a great deal of work is devoted to the treatment of macular degeneration and other retinal diseases using microcurrent stimulation. This very specific form of low current bioelectrical stimulation, in its current state of the technology, can improve cellular metabolism and promote some healing in the retina. The results are quite remarkable, with most of the people treated showing statistically significant improvement in one or both eyes. We have treated people with the dry and wet forms of macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and younger people with Stargardt’s disease. All of these types responded positively to the treatments. Please see the section, Results From the First 120 Patients Treated. Centers where similar work is being done report similar results. This treatment proves to be remarkably safe, easily done and painless.
FOR INFORMATION ON THE BASICS OF MICROCURRENT STIMULATION PLEASE CHECK OUT THE GENERAL INFO PAGE ON MICROCURRENT STIMULATION
About the Home Treatment Unit
The results from treatment with microcurrent stimulation are very optimistic. Not all electrical stimulation is the same, and the improvements in vision seen with our current treatment protocol are felt to be due to refinements and improvements in the specific devices used. These devices deliver currents much closer to the level of currents found naturally in the body. Other devices use levels of current which are much stronger. Stronger does not always mean better. The waveform and quality of the microcurrent output of the MicroStim 100i Le device seems particularly effective in stimulating the retina when the stimulation is applied to points around the eyes and points on the surface of the body related to the eye.
This particular machine is “current-driven” rather than “voltage-driven.” This means that this machine is able to adjust for varying resistance, and provide a stable level of current. Whereas a “voltage-driven” machine provides a current driven by voltage output without adjustment for varying resistance. Laboratory research shows that the parameters for successful treatment involve tightly controlled levels of current, waveform and frequency. At the current time, most of the practitioners treating macular degeneration with microcurrent stimulation use the devices manufactured by Microstim Technologies. The portable unit allows people to do the frequent treatments that are required at home. This sophisticated device is easy to use, durable, reliable, affordable and safe. It is available only on the order of a physician.
Is it safe?
Side effects or adverse outcomes related to the procedure have not occurred so far. Specifically no increase in the conversion to the wet form of macular degeneration occurred in those treated. This means that although this treatment is thought to work by improving circulation, it is not seen to increase any tendency to bleed or produce exudates. The National Institutes of Health published a Consensus Statement on Acupuncture (November, 1997) which included the studies of treatments using microcurrent stimulation at acupuncture points for the treatment of pain and various musculoskeletal problems. The NIH Consensus Statement reports that, “One of the advantages……is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions.” The complete document from the NIH may be found at:
What can I expect?
It is possible to experience an actual improvement in vision. Many report that their vision becomes clearer and brighter after treatment. Some experience increased visual ability as measured on visual acuity tests (ability to read an eye chart). However, this is not true for everyone. For those that experience an actual improvement in their vision, maintaining the improvements requires continuous treatment. Treatments are easily done at home with the portable treatment unit. Anyone thinking of undertaking this therapy needs to realize that they must commit themselves to what may be a lifelong therapy, requiring some of their time several days each week after the initial six month period of daily treatment. When the treatments are successful and the vision improves, the results are not permanent.
Treatment needs to be continued in order to maintain the improvements. Those who had improvements in their vision and then stopped treatments regressed in their vision. Even those people who did not experience an improvement in vision report that their vision stabilized. Their vision is no longer deteriorating at an accelerated rate. Although everyone would love to experience improvement, with a disease such as macular degeneration, stabilization is a valuable gain. Indeed, if all that microcurrent stimulation accomplished was to slow or stop the progression of the disease, it would be a valuable treatment.
Again, in order to maintain stabilization, treatment needs to be ongoing. It is thought that this treatment works by increasing blood flow and metabolism in the area being treated. When the treatments stop, it is thought that the improved blood flow and metabolism also stop. This is evidenced by the regression in vision experienced when treatment is stopped. This can be corrected when treatment commences again. Microcurrent stimulation is not a cure. It is not a magic bullet. But when applied properly, using the best possible technology, it can bring at best real improvements in vision.
What is treatment like?
After learning in either a group or individual setting how to self-administer treatment, individuals treat themselves at home with the microcurrent home treatment unit. It is easy to learn and apply, and is not painful in any way. The points are treated daily, and the other body points are treated weekly. The daily treatment takes fifteen to twenty minutes, and the weekly treatment takes about twenty-five minutes. After the first six months, the points around the eyes are treated two to three times a week, and the other body points are treated every other week. Treatment needs to be continued in order for any improvements and stabilization of vision to be maintained.
Is treatment painful?
For which patients is this treatment most likely to be successful?
We have been treating people with retinal disease in this office for 17 years now. Many more than those reflected in the first 120 patient data. However this data still reflects what we see today. One surprise that we still find in analyzing the data is how well the people with the wet form of aged-related macular degeneration have responded. The conventional wisdom given to Dr. Miller when he first started doing these procedures was that the patients with “wet” macular degeneration (exudative macular degeneration) did not respond as well as those with “dry” macular degeneration (non-exudative macular degeneration). This data shows that patients with exudative macular degeneration respond quite positively.
The data reflects improvements as measured in visual acuity testing. Many of these patients also show improvement in their visual fields and in scoring on color testing. Acuity testing was available for all the patients we have seen and so that is what we present here.
The other pleasant surprise was how well the patients with Stargardt’s Disease have responded to microcurrent stimulation therapy.
Can the “Wet” Form of Macular Degeneration be Treated?
Yes. Some people with the “wet” form of ARMD have benefited from this treatment, and we currently treat both the wet and dry forms of macular degeneration. The damage caused to the retina by the exudates and bleeding can be so severe that the retina is permanently damaged. If you have had laser procedures, there will be areas of permanent scarring in your retina. Still, the response to microcurrent stimulation therapy is very good in those people we treated with exudative or “wet” macular degeneration. If you have the “wet” form of macular degeneration in both eyes, we need to see the medical records from your recent eye exams, or arrange for an exam, to determine the extent of your disease before we can advise you if you should begin this treatment.