Optic atrophy (OA) refers to a medical condition that affects the optic nerve, which carries signals from the eye to the brain. This is not a disease, but rather typically a tell tale sign of a potentially more serious condition. It arises due to damage to the optic nerve that can be caused by any number of things such as stroke, glaucoma, swelling of the optic nerve (optic neuritis), hereditary optic neuropathy (Leber’s), a congenitally acquired defect in the optic nerve, and in some instances a tumor that puts pressure on the nerve.
The symptoms associated with optic atrophy all relate to changes in vision, specifically difficulties with peripheral (side) or color vision and/or visual acuity (sharpness of visual images). It is typically diagnosed by an ophthalmologist (MD or DO) who employs various instruments including one called the ophthalmoscope (which facilitates examination of the optic disc, the point at the back of the eye where the optic nerve enters. In Optic Atrophy the optic disc will appear pale because of a change in blood flow).
At the present time standard medicine has little to offer to treat much less cure optic atrophy, except in cases where inflammation is the main culprit and can be significantly reduced by judicious use of specific drugs or when tumors are present by surgical removal of the tumor or use of other measures to reduce its size or eradicate it. This underscores the need for regular eye exams to catch problems early on.
Is there anything on the leading edge of medical science that might foster improvements in optic atrophy sufferers who have exhausted what mainstream medicine can offer or are deemed untreatable? The answer is a “qualified yes.”
Optic Atrophy caused by tumors require intervention to deal with the cancer itself. Optic Atrophy that results from other causes but which has responded poorly if at all to conventional treatment may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and/or a patient’s own (autologous) stem cell-rich bone marrow.
In the case of HBOT, there is evidence that it can help in certain cases. In Croatia a study was published concerning two patients with “non-arteritic anterior optic atrophy” who responded to HBOT – Click this link to view the study. There is also some evidence that HBOT can prove beneficial in some sufferers of radiation-induced Optic Atrophy – Click this link to learn more. There are also reports from various clinics across the world of significant responses to HBOT (often in conjunction with other therapies) in OA sufferers. One longstanding and highly innovative HBOT center is part of Dr. Steenblock’s integrative medical clinic which can be accessed on-line by clicking this link or reached by calling 1-949-367-8870 or by using this on-line contact form which can be readily accessed by contacting us.
The use of adult (non-embryonic) stem cells may also benefit Optic Atrophy. There are, in fact, numerous case histories reported by various foreign private stem cell treating facilities across the world concerning Optic Atrophy patients treated with cord blood and bone marrow derived stem cells who went on to experience clinical significant improvements. While these are strictly anecdotal, this does not necessarily mean they are without merit. The fact there are so accounts being posted or otherwise shared by clinics in diverse locations across the globe would tend to suggest there is “smoke in the woodpile.” This is underscored by a handful of published studies that point to the fact that various stem cells can impact vision issues – Click this link to view some of these – as well as the fact some adult stem cells such as those housed in bone marrow secrete growth factors such as NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) which have been shown to exert a positive effect on various visual players such as the optic nerve.
Of course, for many Optic Atrophy sufferers the expense and inconvenience of traveling to a stem cell treatment center in Europe or the Far East is daunting. The good news is there is an alternative: Namely, having a legal autologous bone marrow treatment here in the US: Namely Dr. Steenblock’s Clinic. You can learn all about this clinic by clicking this link or by calling 1-949-367-8870 or by using this on-line contact form which can be readily accessed by clicking this link.