Vision loss caused by damage to the optic nerve or conditions such as glaucoma is thought to be irreversible. But a German study has found that stimulation from electrical alternating current may partially restore lost vision in patients who still have some residual vision.
The study involved 65 patients, about half of whom had vision loss as a result of glaucoma and the rest as a result of neuropathy.
The patients were randomly assigned to receive 10 sessions of either alternating current or sham stimulation. Stimulation was achieved non-invasively by placing four gold electrodes (two for each eye) on the skin near the eye socket.
At the end of the study, patients who had received the alternating current stimulation had significant improvement in both their field of vision test performance and vision-related quality of life. Roughly two out of every three patients reported satisfaction with the results.
The study was small, but the outcomes are consistent with those of earlier studies. More research is needed to fully understand how stimulation with electrical current affects both the physical functioning of the nerve and the way the brain processes the information it receives.
Joseph Saling is an award-winning freelance writer who specializes in disease management, mental health, and senior health. He lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Sandy, and their dog, Yeats. In between assignments he paints with acrylics, works on a novel, and writes short fiction and poetry.