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There are not only healthy and dead cells in the damaged visual system, but also many diseased, hypometabolic nerve cells. They survive but become inactive as if being locked in a hibernation mode. Neurons (cells) in the visual system can become silent because they are either molecularly damaged, inhibited by toxic substances, or lack of oxygen and glucose supply.

Causes of inactive cells

Cells in the visual system need sufficient energy, i.e., oxygen and glucose, to fire electrical signals from the eye to the brain (or within the brain), but when blood vessels do not respond properly to this signal because of “vascular dysregulation”, the neurons, deprived of oxygen like a car without gas, stay silent. “Vascular dysregulation” is a field of research that was pioneered by Prof Flammer from Basel, Switzerland. Here, the vascular blood supply is compromised for several possible reasons, which can occur individually or in combination:

(i) increased intraocular pressure (IOP) can strangulate capillaries partially or completely.

(ii) blood flow is generally reduced when, e.g., blood pressure is too low.

(iii) blood vessels in the eye or brain are suddenly constricted (cramped) due to an acute stress event (“spasm”) or are occluded by a blood clot.

(iv) the difference between arterial blood flowing to the eye, brain, and venous blood drain is too low.

(v) the oxygen content in the blood is too low (in smokers or mountaineers at high altitudes above 2,000 m).

(vi) vascular dysregulation can develop due to continuously increased levels of stress hormones in the blood. Here, stress hormones are like a pollution for the blood vessels.

Other causes may be unhealthy lifestyles (e.g., smoking, alcohol, obesity, unbalanced nutrition) or uncoordinated control of the blood vessel walls by the nervous system, so the oxygen supply does not match the need of nerve cell activity in the retina or brain.

Reactivation of inactive cells

It is possible to reactivate these “silent neurons”. Now the key question is: how many cells have died and how many are still alive but only “functionally inactive”? When all the cells are dead, there is, of course, no chance of vision recovery; but if inactive cells exist at all, we should try our best to reactivate them.

There are many direct and indirect processes and functions within the brain that are needed for healthy (normal) vision, they can be recruited to “wake up” the silent neurons and thus optimize signal processing in the brain. Direct factors include focal and global attention, expectations (positive attitudes), fatigue, acute and chronic stress, emotions, depression and microsaccades (miniature eye movements important for high-resolution vision/visual acuity). Indirect factors include atmospheric pressure (weather sensitivity), which can alter blood and intracranial pressure, time of day, and circadian rhythms.

In conclusion, many factors of the nervous system and of the blood vascular system have a direct or indirect effect on vision. The good news is, while all these factors are part of the problem, they are also part of the solution. Thus, while traditional ophthalmology aims to slow down or even prevent the death of cells, the holistic Savir vision therapy aims to strengthen residual vision and reactivate living but silent cells to function again.

*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.