Alzheimer's study; Convergence insufficiency

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
October 14, 2008 3:34:46 PM PDT
A new study reveals that a vitamin that once held promise for Alzheimer's patients instead increases their depression. Plus, there is a new treatment for children who suffer from a common eye condition. First, Alzheimer's disease. A study published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the effectiveness of the B vitamins in slowing down the progression of the disease.

Three years ago, the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease forever changed the lives of Gary and Mary Paul.

"It just disrupts mostly what we thought was normal life," Gary said. "But it also brought us a lot closer together."

The couple hopes an effective therapy is close at hand. And so did Dr. Paul Aisen. He and his team at the San Diego School of Medicine in California studied 340 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

The team focused on whether large doses of three vitamins, B6, B12 and folic acids, could slow down the progress of the illness.

After four years of study, the answer was unfortunately negative.

"Unfortunately, the results were disappointing, in the sense that this intervention, the high dose vitamins, did not have a favorable effect on the disease," Dr. Aisen said.

But Dr. Aisen says that even negative studies move research forward.

Convergence Insufficiency

There is also news about the best treatment for a very common childhood vision problem. It's called CI for convergence insufficiency.

Kids who have it usually complain of tired eyes, headaches and blurred or double vision when they read. In fact, their eye muscles do not turn in easily, a movement required for reading.

"When children read for a long period of time with this eye vision problem, they sometimes lose concentration, lose their place, read slowly," said Dr. Mitchell Scheiman of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry.

Therapy often involves home practice with a pencil, but the new research shows that office based therapy, along with the home reenforcement, is most effective.

Jane Bocek saw her daughter, Stephanie, improve after treatment.

"It made a very big difference in her ability to understand what was going on in the classroom, her ability to study, read and also, her confidence," she said.

Again, the problem is called CI, or convergence insufficiency. Any good eye doctor can diagnoses the condition. And, as the study shows, office therapy and home treatment together can make the biggest difference.

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STORY BY: Medical reporter Dr. Jay Adlersberg

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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