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Vitamin D and calcium for eye problems.

When ophthalmologist Arthur Alexander Knapp, MD, performed animal experiments investigating the effects of vitamin deficiencies during the 1930s, he discovered the importance of vitamin D and calcium to eye health. "While all of the experimental animals revealed retinal vascular disease," he wrote in "Blindness: Forty Years of Original Research," "it was only the D deficient low-calcium ones that consistently developed several ... eye diseases similar to humans. And all of their pathology grew progressively worse as the nutritional deficiency worsened." As a result of these studies, Knapp began using high intermittent doses of vitamin D (50,000 IU) and calcium (1 gram) to treat several eye problems, including myopia (nearsightedness), keratoconus (myopia with corneal protrusion), retinitis pigmentosa (retinal degeneration), and allergic conjunctivitis. (Knapp does not specify what he means by "intermittent" in this article. Laypersons should not attempt taking such high doses of vitamin D without consulting a practitioner.)

According to Knapp, myopia, keratoconus, allergic conjunctivitis, and retinitis pigmentosa all stem from vitamin D-calcium deficiency. In his research with patients, Knapp found that D-calcium supplementation stabilized vision in many patients with these conditions. If the condition was recent and irreversible pathological changes had not occurred, vision often returned to 20/20. In patients with keratoconus, eyesight improved and the cornea flattened to a more normal shape after six weeks of supplementation. According to Warren M. Levin, MD, Knapp had a special permit from the FDA to use his treatment on highly myopic children.

In addition to supplements, Knapp employed sphenopalatine blocks, using topical anesthesia, to improve all types of chorioretinitis, including macular degeneration. Blocking the sphenopalatine ganglia (accessed through the nose) with anesthesia is presently used to treat facial, sinus, and migraine pain. Knapp discovered that sphenopalatine blocks shrink the nasal mucosa and increase the blood supply to the fundus oculi (back of the eye). "This healing power reduces the inflammation of the retina," he explains, "and is sufficient to give rise to regeneration of the damaged retina with consequent increased vision. In early inflammations it is possible to obtain complete retinal regeneration without scarring or any evidence of previous disease."

Knapp AA. Blindnes: forty years of original research. Journal of IAPM. 1977; 50-72

Levine WM. Letter to Jonathan Collin, MD. November 30, 2008.

Spilner M. Vitamin D deficiency linked to eye problems. July 16, 2009. Available at Accessed February 22, 2011.

Windsor RE, Jahnke S. Sphenopalatine ganglion blockade: a review and proposed modification of the transnasal technique. Pain Physician. 2004;7:283-286. Available at:;283-286.pdf. Accessed February 22, 2011.

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Title Annotation:Shorts
Author:Klotter, Jule
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2011
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