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Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy in Glaucoma
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy is being explored as a possible treatment for glaucoma. Most of the research appears to be happening in Eastern Europe. Dr. Pawluk reported and commented on the following studies. Dr. Pawluk is a family physician who also promotes and sells PEMF devices. (The products he sells cost several thousand dollars.)
Please keep in mind that Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy is restricted by the FDA to a few medical conditions such as for treating non-union bone fractures. Consumer PEMF devices are not approved for treating any medical conditions. (Also, keep in mind that many people are trying to avoid exposure to electromagnetic fields.)
Here is a nice background article on the possible health benefits of Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy:
Dr. Pawluk says:
In one study, courses of rotating PEMF therapy were given using a device of a 33 mT [330 Gauss] magnetic field, rotation frequency of 1.0 to 1.5 Hz, to 31 patients (43 eyes) for 10 min with primary open-angle glaucoma, over 10 sessions. Untreated eyes (n = 15) of the same patients were controls. The patients were examined before and 4 to 5 months after MT. Vision acuity improved by 0.16 diopters, on average, in 96.7% of the treated people who had vision acuity below 1.0 diopter before treatment. By way of comparison, mild myopia [shortsightedness] could have a loss 1.00 to 3.00 diopters, while over the counter reading glasses will be rated at +1.00 to +3.00 diopters. MT brought about an improvement of spatial contrast sensitivity by at least 7 of a possible 12 levels in 85% of 26 eyes assessed. After PEMFs, visual field deficits decreased by at least 10% in 72% of 43 eyes versus controls and decreased by 22% vs. the initial value overall in those treated. After 4 to 5 months the treatment changes in the vision acuity and visual field deficit were negligible, in other words the results were stable even after 4 – 5 months. In controls the parameters showed no improvement over the entire follow-up period.
Here is the abstract:
[Possibilities of magnetotherapy in stabilization of visual function in patients with glaucoma].
Courses of magnetotherapy (MT) using ATOS device with 33 mT magnetic field induction were administered to 31 patients (43 eyes) with primary open-angle glaucoma with compensated intraocular pressure. The operation mode was intermittent, with 1.0 to 1.5 Hz field rotation frequency by 6 radii. The procedure is administered to a patient in a sitting posture with magnetic inductor held before the eye. The duration of a session is 10 min, a course consists of 10 sessions. Untreated eyes (n = 15) of the same patients were examined for control. The patients were examined before and 4 to 5 months after MT course. Vision acuity improved by 0.16 diopters, on an average, in 29 eyes (96.7%) out of 30 with vision acuity below 1.0 before treatment. Visocontrastometry was carried out using Visokontrastometer-DT device with spatial frequency range from 0.4 to 19 cycle/degree (12 frequencies) and 125 x 125 monitor. The orientation of lattices was horizontal and vertical. The contrasts ranged from 0.03 to 0.9 (12 levels). MT brought about an improvement of spatial contrast sensitivity by at least 7 values of 12 levels in 22 (84.6%) out of 26 eyes and was unchanged in 4 eyes. Visual field was examined using Humphry automated analyzer. A 120-point threshold test was used. After a course of MT, visual field deficit decreased by at least 10% in 31 (72%) out of 43 eyes, increased in 3, and was unchanged in 9 eyes; on an average, visual field deficit decreased by 22.4% vs. the initial value. After 4 to 5 months the changes in the vision acuity and visual field deficit were negligible. In controls these parameters did not appreciably change over the entire follow-up period.
Bisvas Shutanto Kumar, Listopadova NA. Possibilities of magnetotherapy in stabilization of visual function in patients with glaucoma. Vestn Oftalmol. 1996 Jan-Mar;112(1):6-8.
In a different study, a different device, that is, a “traveling” magnetic field device, similar to the Almag, was used to treat primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). In a traveling magnetic field device each coil is turned on sequentially in a series repeatedly. That creates a wave or stream -like action in the tissues, thought to be more activating. The PEMF was applied in patients to the cervical spine in the area of the sympathetic ganglia. Vascular flow and pressure parameters were analysed along with visual evoked potentials, visual fields, and visual acuity. They found that magnetic field therapy produces better clinical results in patients with stage I and II POAG compared with medication (using trental tablets).
Here is the abstract:
[Magnetotherapy designed to affect cervical sympathetic ganglia for the treatment of patients with primary open-angle glaucoma].
The traveling magnetic field was used to treat primary open-angle glaucoma. The field was applied to the projection of cervical sympathetic ganglia of the patients. Hemodynamic parameters of posterior short ciliary arteries and central retinal artery were analysed along with visual evoked potentials, visual field limits, and visual acuity. It was shown that magnetotherapy with the use of an AMO-ATOS apparatus produces better clinical results in patients with stage I and II primary open-angle glaucoma compared with medicamentous therapy (intake of trental tablets).
Magnetotherapy designed to affect cervical sympathetic ganglia for the treatment of patients with primary open-angle glaucoma. Veselova EV, Kamenskikh TG, Raĭgorodkiĭ IuM, Kolbenev IO, Myshkina ES. Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2010 Sep-Oct;(5):21-4.
Another group studied the influence of PEMF on the flow of fluid of the eye in POAG. They used a rectangular pulse form at a frequency of 50 Hz, 8.0-8.5 mT (80-85 gauss) intensity. The duration of the procedure was 7 minutes for a total of 10 sessions. 150 patients (283 eyes) were evaluated. Latent, initial and advanced glaucoma all benefited from the use of PEMFs. There was an increase in the amount and flow of fluid through the outflow canals of the front part of the eye [anterior chamber]. In the latent stage of glaucoma, outflow became normal in 25% of cases. At the initial and advanced stages 17.8% and 16.0% of cases, respectively, became normal. The authors concluded that they could recommend this method of treatment of open-angle glaucoma.
Here is the abstract:
[The effect of a pulsed electromagnetic field on ocular hydrodynamics in open-angle glaucoma].
The influence of pulse electromagnetic field on the hydrodynamics of the eye in open-angle glaucoma has been studied using the method and the device suggested at the Filatov Institute. The characteristics of the action were: impulse frequency--50 Hz, duration--0.02 sec., pulse form--rectangular, rate of pulse rise--4/10(-4) sec., rate of magnetic induction rise--2/10(-4) mT/sec., amplitude value of magnetic induction at the pulse level--8.0-8.5 mT, duration of the procedure--7 min. Ten session in a total. Observations over 150 patients (283 eyes) with latent, initial and advanced glaucoma have shown that the usage of pulse electromagnetic field exerts influence on the hydrodynamics of the eye in open-angle glaucoma; stimulates the rise of aqueous outflow and production, the reduction of the Becker's coefficient. At the latent stage of the disease, normalization of outflow was recorded in 25% of cases, at the initial and advanced stages--in 17.8% and 16.0% of cases, respectively. The investigations carried out allow to recommend the mentioned method for a complex treatment of open-angle glaucoma.
- PMID: 2280950
Tsisel’skiĭ IuV. Oftalmol Zh. 1990;(2):89-92. The effect of a pulsed electromagnetic field on ocular hydrodynamics in open-angle glaucoma.
Research evaluated the possible mechanisms for improvement seen in retinal function. The effectiveness of PEMF therapy is not the same in all patients. The benefits from PEMF treatment for 15-30 min usually last only for 8-10 days, consistent with the time to renew rod pigments in the retina. In addition, visual examination of the back of the eye after electromagnetic treatment reveals dilation of the capillaries. Hence, one conclusion is that the favorable effect of PEMF therapy was from improvement of microcirculation. They found that retinal circulation gradually increased from arterioles to capillaries and venules. It appears that the authors concluded that the conditions for retinal rod pigment restoration in the central area of the retina are less favorable than in its peripheral areas. Therefore, the therapeutic effect in patients with loss of vision in the central area of the retina will occur after a greater number of PEMF stimulation sessions.
A mathematical model is proposed that explains restoration of vision by electro-magnetic treatment of the retina dystrophy induced only by pathology of receptive cells. Possible relationship between the treatment efficiency and dystrophy localization is shown.
A possible mechanism of retina dystrophy treatment by electromagnetic field. Shlygin, V. V.; Arnautov, L. N.; Maksimov, G. V. Biofizika 38(3):507-510, 1993.
A PEMF system was used in the treatment of 283 eyes (177 patients) with macular damage of the retina. The treatment had a positive influence on the pathologic process in the eye, with stability of the benefit after treatment. In 152 eyes, visual acuity remained unchanged, improved in 131 (46%). Stabilization of the process was confirmed by objectively measured improvement indices. In 72 eyes, the results of treatment were followed up for 6 yr, confirming the effectiveness of this method of treatment. Long-term observations have found the need to repeat the course of treatment every 3-5 months (within a year) to prevent progression of the damage. Unfortunately we do not have information on the characteristics of the magnetic system used. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates the need for longer-term treatment to get sustainable results. When one considers the length of time it takes to regenerate neural tissues, this long-term personal, home use approach makes sense.
The impulse electromagnetic field in the treatment of dystrophic lesions of the retina. Skrinnik, A. V.; Kovalchuk, A. S. Oftalmol Zh(8):459-462, 1989.
Since the general circulation and pumping of the heart affects circulation through the whole body, it is important to balance and restore the overall circulation, not just the circulation of the eyes. Also, glaucoma tends to be more common in people as they age. So, central general circulation, diastolic and pumping functions of the heart, reactivity of the heart muscle, microcirculation and biological age of the cardiovascular system were studied in 66 elderly patients with hypertension and ischemic heart disease. The patients received systemic magnetic therapy which produced a protective effect against aging as shown by improved microcirculation, heart muscle function, and central circulation.
Here is the abstract:
[The characteristics of the geroprotective action of magnetotherapy in elderly patients with combined cardiovascular pathology].
Central hemodynamics, diastolic and pumping functions of the heart, myocardial reactivity, microcirculation and biological age of cardiovascular system were studied in 66 elderly patients suffering from hypertension and ischemic heart disease. The patients received systemic magnetotherapy which produced a geroprotective effect as shown by improved microcirculation, myocardial reactivity, central hemodynamics reducing biological age of cardiovascular system and inhibiting its ageing.
The characteristics of the geroprotective action of magnetotherapy in elderly patients with combined cardiovascular pathology. Abramovich SG, Fedotchenko AA, Koriakina AV, Pogodin KV, Smirnov SN. Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 1999 Sep-Oct;(5):7-9.
Indirectly, other actions of PEMFs on the eye can be taken as demonstrating repair and reduction of inflammation in the eye in general as well as specifically in glaucoma. Fifteen patients with surface infections of the cornea due to a foreign body in one eye were treated with PEMF (50 gauss, 50 Hz) for 9 minutes and the topical antibiotic gentamycin before and after removal of the foreign bodies. This treatment promoted suppression of the inflammatory reaction of the eye and accelerated corneal tissue regeneration. This study establishes that PEMFs can accelerate healing of not only inflammation but also eye tissue damage.
Verzin AA. Action of gentamycin against a background of magnetotherapy of the anterior chamber in a traumatic infected erosion of the cornea. Antibiotiki. 1982 Oct;27(10):774-5.