People with visual system problems go to the ophthalmologist. But if the diseases attack the nervous system part of the eye, such as the retina, optic nerve or the brain, ophthalmology has limited possibilities to offer help. The traditional ophthalmological view holds that once the damage has happened, the vision loss is irreversible. This pessimistic and often frightful message is passed on to patients who suffer diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, optic neuropathy, optic nerve damage, amblyopia, stroke, or brain trauma.
Neurologists, on the other hand, are responsible for nervous system and brain disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, or dementia. But if patients wish to learn more about their visual problem, they are sent back to the ophthalmologist, who is responsible for treating “vision” problems. Then patients may feel like sitting between two chairs and no one can really help.
And there is another problem: visually impaired patients may understandably be scared, worried, or even depressed as a dramatic change of life is often feared. Therefore, other disciplines are needed, such as psychiatry or psychology.
Visually impaired people have little chance to get their visual problem examined or treated with a “holistic” perspective. It is not enough to just look at the eyes, ignoring the brain and the person behind the eyes, since vision is not only a product of the eyes, but also, the result of complex information processing in the brain. When the retina is damaged, we should also look at the brain and its untapped capabilities and ask whether the reduced information flow of visual signals can be improved.
This circumstance is taken into account by a “holistic” treatment of visual impairment: not only the function of the eye must be optimized, but also that of the brain and blood flow. Image 1 shows the basic elements of holistic treatment, daily treatment with alternating current stimulation (ACS) is our core therapy, which is combined with relaxion techniques, eye training and psychological counseling. The goal is therefore, not only to regulate eye pressure or retinal cell survival, which is what ophthalmologists do with eye drops, or surgery, but also to optimize the brain to maximize the use of residual visual inputs.
Thus, while traditional ophthalmology aims to slow down or even prevent the aggravation of the problem (cell death), the new holistic, clinical approach of vision therapy is to strengthen residual vision, by optimizing the function of the remaining cells and brain networks to strengthen their maximum potential of the remaining “inactive“ structures.
*This article is a summary of the published paper from Professor Sabel and his team:
Sabel BA, Cárdenas-Morales L, Gao Y. Vision Restoration in Glaucoma by activating Residual Vision with a Holistic, Clinical Approach: A Review. J Curr Glaucoma Pract 2018;12(1):1-9.