Preliminary and follow-up studies show previously unseen vision improvement.
The three macular degeneration patients gazed at their futures through eyes growing more and more dim. Two of them had finally stopped responding to the anti-VEGF eye injections and the third, with a resistant form of wet macular degeneration, said, “No injections”. The retinal specialists had shrugged and written them off.
The three now bleakly regarded their futures and waited for the inevitable outcome of their disease. But Dr. Richer had one more thing to try.
Stuart Richer, OD, PhD, FAAO is Director of the Ocular Preventive Medicine Laboratory at the Captain James A Lovell Federal Health Care Center Eye Clinic for veterans and navy patients. He earned an OD, MS (physiologic optics) simultaneously from UC Berkeley in 1981, a VA residency certificate in 1982, and a PhD in human physiology and biophysics in 1996 from Chicago Medical School.
He’s an associate professor of Family and Preventative Medicine at Chicago Medical School, assistant professor at the University of Illinois Department of Ophthalmology / Eye and Ear Infirmary and holds 2 additional faculty appointments in clinical optometry at ICO and UMSL.
A new look at a promising compound
Do you remember the “French Paradox”? Our doctors were stumped.
The national government was leading the charge against fats.
Butter was bad. Fatty meats were bad. Eggs were bad. And oh, those awful cheeses…
And yet that was the way the French ate. And their rates of heart disease were much lower than ours.
Eat, drink and… drink some more wine.
It was the wine, they decided. You know those French are always drinking wine.
A wondrous compound in red wines called, “resveratrol”.
Since its discovery in the 1940s, resveratrol has been the subject of hundreds of studies, most in the area of cardiovascular health. This remarkable compound was found to have the following characteristics:
- Resveratrol is a small compound derived from grapes and red wine and which has demonstrated its ability to control thousands of genes.
- Two very important genes active in promoting macular degeneration (HIF-1 and VEGF) are controlled by micro-RNA, which are small pieces of genetic material. Resveratrol has been shown to establish more normal control over both these genes in monkeys. Mitochondria are tiny structures inside your cells that generate energy and keep you alive. They are literally the batteries of your body. Resveratrol has been shown to protect mitochondrial DNA against mutations.
- When blood flow from a heart attack is restored to the heart, severe damage often occurs when the oxygenated blood flow is restored. This, “reperfusion injury” has been shown in studies to be greatly reduced in monkeys by resveratrol.
- Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, occurs when fatty deposits build up inside the arteries and prevent the normal dilation or contraction. Resveratrol has been shown to reduce the blood markers directly related to these deposits.
- Resveratrol is now the subject of its own international biological conference and is regarded as an “epigenetic” compound (see Research Summaries: Epigenetic Treatment of Macular Degeneration).
- Resveratrol has been generally ignored by the eye care community until just recently.
So what’s in your wine?
When Dr. Richer and his team decided to use resveratrol for his patients, there were 432 various OTC brands available to him. After analyzing the available compounds, the team decided to go with Longevinex due to the following considerations:
- The resveratrol in Longevinex is manufactured by a process that stabilizes it and keeps it more active than standard resveratrol.
Animal research has shown Longevinex to be far superior to resveratrol alone in establishing control over two very important macular degeneration genes, HIF-1 and VEGF.
- Longevinex included another plant chemical, quercetin, which has been shown to make resveratrol more effective.
- Longevinex includes vitamin D3, which has been shown to control a number of important genes involved with immune repair, inflammation and calcium regulation. There are some studies suggesting low vitamin D3 is associated with early macular degeneration (see Research Summaries: Eye Vitamins and Macular Degeneration).
- Longevinex included inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) to reduce the buildup of copper and iron. Studies have indicated these minerals trigger genes that worsen macular degeneration.
- Research in animals had already shown Longevinex superior to resveratrol alone in improving cardiovascular disease markers.
- Proven safety.
- Conventional resveratrol in animals has been shown to be protective of heart disease through a narrow dosage range, but becomes toxic and kills heart tissue when greatly exceeded.
- Longevinex, on the other hand, showed no such toxicity and was found to be safe at higher doses.
- Note: do not exceed the directions and take excessive amounts of all resveratrol products. Always stay with the recommended dosage and never take more than one type at the same time.
The stars of the show
It’s important to understand more about the three patients discussed in this first case-study (Observation of human retinal remodeling in octogenarians with a resveratrol-based oral nutritional supplement, Nutrients 2013) so you can grasp the magnitude of their improvements.
Patient number one was an 86-year-old male veteran.
- The patient was obese with multiple systemic health challenges.
- His left eye was blind, and his remaining right eye had advanced macular degeneration.
- In three weeks he was once again able to read, in six weeks his vision had improved by seven lines on the eye chart and the large central blind spot was gone.
- This all occurred in his remaining right eye.
- Interestingly, his hearing exams also steadily improved.
Patient number two was an 88-year-old female.
- She had wet macular degeneration in both eyes.
- She was unable to read or identify faces, but adamantly refused the pleas of retinal specialists to receive anti-VEGF injections such as Avastin, Lucentis or EyLea.
- Four days after beginning Longevinex, she reported a “hole of good vision” opening up in her better eye and was able to identify faces.
- At two weeks her vision in the right eye continued to improve and the retinal fluid in both eyes had nearly resolved.
- Interestingly, her constant heart problems and migraine headaches had also become asymptomatic.
Patient 3 was a younger 75-year-old Vietnam Veteran.
- He had dry macular degeneration in both eyes.
- The left eye had recently converted to wet form, but he adamantly refused any injections.
- Five days after starting Longevinex he reported better vision and subsequently passed his driver’s test.
- After two weeks of treatment his retina showed the fluid had almost disappeared, as though he had received anti-VEGF injections.
These cases are incredible. But could it all be a fluke, or chance occurrence?
And what about long term? Couldn’t this just be “placebo effect”? Maybe these improvements are a flash in the pan.
Dr. Richer to the rescue
As though anticipating the above questions, Dr. Richer last year published another case-study involving three patients who have taken Longevinex for long periods. (Resveratrol-based oral nutritional supplement produces long-term beneficial effects on structure and visual function in human patients, Nutrients 2014).
Patient 1 was a 64-year-old male.
- He had dry macular degeneration and type II diabetes.
- He had taken Longevinex for 2 1/2 years.
- No other changes had occurred in his supplementation or treatment.
- Repeated retinal scans showed reduced retinal deposits, improve blood flow and improved retinal pigment health. These findings are the opposite of what would normally be expected.
- The patient subjectively was pleased with both improved visual acuity, reduced glare recovery time and improved cardiovascular health.
Patient 2 was an 89-year-old male.
- He had dry macular degeneration had been on Longevinex for 2 1/2 years.
- Baseline vision was 20/40 in both eyes and remained unchanged for the entire time.
- Glare recovery time and markers of retinal health improved. (Markedly increased macular pigment, reduced lipofusin autoflouressence and increased thickness of the choroidal space. These markers do not normally improve in macular degeneration).
- The patient was able to maintain his driver’s license the entire time.
Patient 3 was a 67-year-old male.
- He had “treatment resistant” dry macular degeneration (Polypoidal Choroidal Vasculopathy).
- He had been on Longevinex for two years.
- Baseline vision was still 20/20 in the right and 20/25 in the left, and by the two-year mark had improved to 20/20 in both eyes.
- In addition, the same markers of retinal health that improved in Patient 2 had also improved in Patient 3, and significantly the improvement was most notable in the worst eye.
- Finally, his glare recovery time had improved from an abnormal 30 seconds in his right eye and 75 seconds in his left to normal, single digit values over the 22 months.
Imagine. The oncoming car flashes its bright lights in your eyes. You’re doing 50 mph and suddenly can’t see anything in front of you but a single large blinding light for a minute and 15 seconds.
Two years and two pills a day later, your vision’s back in a normal eight or nine seconds.
The silence is deafening
Why hasn’t this information been the lead story on network news? Why haven’t eye doctors everywhere made their macular degeneration patients aware of this compound?
To understand the natural reluctance doctors have about new directions in therapy, we need to discuss the role of studies.
Research has different levels of believability. The most believable, like AREDS, involve thousands of patients in multiple sites over many years. These are, “double-blind, placebo-controlled”, so that neither the patient or the doctor knows if the patient’s taking the real drug or sugar pill.
But there’s a big problem with these top-level studies.
- They take many years and are very, very expensive.
- No one will fund the study unless they feel it’s really important, or unless they think there’s lots of money to be made. Usually it’s both.
For example, the vitamins used in AREDS were provided by a corporation that just happens to sell that particular vitamin formula. If they had not done so, the cost would have been much, much higher.
There is another, second-level of studies that may not include the, “double-blind, placebo-controlled” regimen.
- These studies are often excellent and published in peer-reviewed medical journals, but are not considered the, “gold standard”.
- They are also much less expensive and easier to run, so the vast majority of our studies fall into this group. These are the normal studies doctors read about each month.
- There are also “entry level” studies known as,” case-reports” or “case-studies”.
- These involve very few patients, sometimes only one or two, and are short in duration.
- Does this mean they are worthless? Absolutely not.
Case-studies are the way researchers or clinicians can say, “Hey world, here’s something important that needs to be looked at in a higher-level study.” Some of our best discoveries started as Case Reports.
Indeed, that’s exactly what Dr. Richer called for in his case-studies; more exhaustive studies on the role of Longevinex in macular degeneration.
The silence has been deafening.
A retinal specialist who presently injects 30 to 40 patients a day with expensive, high-tech anti-VEGF drugs would be happy if his or her patients all got well, but might not rejoice at the loss of a huge portion of his or her income.
A biotech company that charges $600 to $2000 for each and every anti-VEGF drug injection for each and every wet macular degeneration patient every 6 to 8 weeks might not rejoice if the patient suddenly replaced them with a supplement costing $50 a month.
Indeed, about 16% of the entire Medicare Part B Drug Budget goes to anti-VEGF injections. This is REALLY big business.
Big-ticket, glitzy items get front row seats. Low-tech, low dollar items get pushed to the back of the bus, even when they’re equally important.
AREDS might never have happened if a huge corporation hadn’t seen they could profit from providing the vitamins.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m happy they did so. Without the push of AREDS it’s hard to say how many thousands of macular degeneration patients would still be going blind without any nutritional information whatsoever.
Does that mean I think the AREDS formula or the AREDS 2 formula are all you need? Absolutely not, but we’ll discuss that in Research Summaries: Eye Vitamins and Macular Degeneration.
So how come I’m writing this special report, telling you all about Dr. Richer’s research, when they were only case-studies? Because many times I’ve seen the fear in patients eyes when they hear the words, “macular degeneration.”
And as Yogi said, “It’s déjà vu all over again”.
Doctors are slow to change
I remember the first time my colleagues and I learned of research that indicated diet would help macular degeneration. It was an Academy meeting in the mid1980s. Yet AREDS, the study that finally proved once and for all that nutrition was important, didn’t officially establish the fact that macular degeneration was at least partially a nutritional disease and thus change the way macular degeneration was treated until 2001.
What happened to macular degeneration patients in those fifteen years? Not much.
Most of them received no treatment at all. A small contingent of eye doctors started discussing diet with patients, but most doctors didn’t.
I remember a well-known eye surgeon’s sarcastic laugh and smirk as he commented that we were, “…treating macular degeneration with vitamins.” Though a top surgeon, his macular degeneration patients went fifteen years without treatment.
I sometimes wonder if he ever thinks of our conversation, but usually I just think about his patients who went without nutritional advice for all those years.
I wonder how many lost their sight thinking their doctor would surely provide everything that was available.
To Tell or Not to Tell….
Case reports are not considered sufficiently vigorous tests to motivate change in treatment, but is that always fair or right? Doesn’t the patient have the right to at least know about new, promising research, especially when the treatment in question has essentially no risks?
The reasoning against fully informing patients about such case reports is understandable for physicians. Patients with high anxiety over health issues will stampede into snake oil remedies, motivated by fear instead of knowledge.
But should there be another consideration?
When a doctor decides to initiate a treatment for a patient, the “risk/benefit ratio” is always on his or her mind.
- A good treatment has a very low risk with a very high benefit.
- A poor treatment has a very high risk and a very low benefit.
So how is the ratio for Longevinex? Let’s look at the risk/benefit ratio for a patient who decides to take Longevinex.
- Monthly cost of $50.
- Vision may get worse anyway.
- A highly researched, positive epigenetic compound (see Research Summaries: Epigenetic Treatments of macular degeneration) that may help stabilize or even improve the vision for macular degeneration with no adverse toxic effects reported and a high safety profile.
- Possible unintended improvement in cardiovascular risk factors.
Okay, let’s look at it a different way. Let’s look at the risk-benefit ratio for patient who decides not to take Longevinex.
- Probable vision loss or blindness.
- Save $50 a month.
Don’t patients get to choose?
So, should patients be told about these case reports?
Is there anyone reading this who would seriously say, “No, I don’t want anyone to tell me about this”?
Please ask yourself the following questions.
- Is this information that you would want to know?
- Are you happy that these two case reports, done in 2013 and 2014, had never been mentioned to you?
Do you want to receive information like this, presented with both pro and con, in the future?
F A Q
1 Q: Dr. Ron, if a member of your family had macular degeneration would you tell them to take Longevinex?
A: Absolutely. I’ve already used my own money and done so. Hopefully the patient looks at Longevinex as just one aspect of their nutritional and behavioral therapies. Please remember this:
- If you have developed macular degeneration, something in your body has switched off your retina’s repair and maintenance mechanism.
- Studies demonstrate the only hope you have at present of reversing course is to make changes to your nutrition or behavior.
- As Einstein is reported to have said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
- As Dr. Richer points out, there are rare cases of spontaneous improvement in macular degeneration, indicating that we do have the ability to repair the damage that’s been done.
- The question is how to turn on that ability. Enter the science of epigenetics (Research Summaries: Epigenetic Treatments of Macular Degeneration).
Longevinex appears, at least in this small number of patients, to have that ability.
2 Q: Can I use Longevinex with other nutritional supplements and behavioral treatments?
- I would caution patients not to use any additional resveratrol supplements and follow the Longevinex instructions for dosage.
- This would mean two capsules per day of the Advantage product.
- These epigenetic treatments are not mutually exclusive, and that’s their beauty.
- While patients temporarily stabilize their wet macular degeneration with injections, it’s possible to begin laying the epigenetic groundwork for a stable vision without such injections.
3 Q: Can I just get my resveratrol from red wine?
A: No, sorry. You’d have to drink gallons of wine every day to get a substantial amount and would probably find you had ceased functioning at a very high level.
4 Q: Is there a chance that after spending $50 a month for a year I won’t see any improvement or that I’ll actually get worse?
A: Unfortunately, yes. Every patient is different, and each one enters at a different stage of the disease. Factors to consider are:
- How much damage has already been done? The worst the retinal damage, the worst a chance for improvement. I’m reluctant now to use the term,” age”, since Dr. Richer’s patients were often in their 80s.
- How much has the patient changed and improved their diet?
- Does a patient still smoke cigarettes? If so, he or she is probably going to go blind no matter what. I’m sorry if that seems a bit brutal but it’s true (Research Summaries: Smoking and Macular Degeneration).
- Is the patient supplementing with the latest supplements shown to help the disease? Longevinex, though very exciting, is not the only one. The research advances steadily and new compounds and information appear with regularity. We will keep you up-to-date with our FREE newsletter from com.
- Is the patient getting regular exercise (Research Summaries: Exercise and Macular Degeneration)?
All these factors and more influence how the disease progresses. We’ll discuss them throughout our Special Reports and Research Summaries.
Longevinex is available at www.Longevinex.com. The product used by Dr. Richer was Longevinex Advantage. Take one capsule twice a day. Cost for one month is about $50, but you can order and quantity and get it for a little less.
Note: Dr. Richer reports no financial interest in the company.
- There is been no double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-year study to examine the new suggested protocols these studies propose.
- Unfortunately there is virtually no chance such a study will be done in time to help anyone with macular degeneration who is reading this report.
- It’s the view of com that for current macular degeneration patients, the next best thing is to know what the majority of research articles are discussing and how it might help you treat the condition, now.
Where Do You Go Now?
Since you’ve read this far you hopefully understand that macular degeneration is a complicated, behavioral/genetic disease. If you are going to have a chance of mounting an effective defense against it, you need information and motivation.
A Comprehensive Treatment Program would include all the factors that research has shown to be beneficial. To look through our list of Research Summaries and Special Reports, click here.
We’ll also be examining the studies out of the limelight. Some of them look very promising like the resveratrol-based Longevinex products Dr. Richer has researched.
And of course, we hope you’ll find our FREE newsletter good at keeping you up to speed on new research findings.
As always, I’m hoping this section will be understandable, informative and interesting. Please let me know if you have any comments.