Carbon Dioxide May Improve Vision in AMD Patients

by Dan Roberts
April 2002
AMD patients are benefitting from a new combination drug therapy being tested at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC). The therapy involves a combination of medicines which includes carbon dioxide, an element which dilates the blood vessels in the retina for the maintenance of proper blood flow. William E. Sponsel, M.D., associate professor and director of research in the department of ophthalmology at UTHSC, maintains that it is the diminished circulation of these vessels that can cause the photoreceptor cells to deteriorate, leading to macular degeneration and loss of central vision.
With certain combinations of chemicals called “carbonic anhydrase inhibitors” (CAI) given as eye drops, Dr. Sponsel is “tricking” the eye into maintaining its carbon dioxide while supplying important nutrients. As a result, he reports that 60 of 65 patients have shown “dramatically” improved vision, no matter whether their vision loss was a result of AMD or glaucoma. Dr. Sponsel says that the results “bode well for treatment of these disorders in the future.”

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