Eye Health

15 September 2009

Steroids improve eyesight

Injections with a steroid improved the eyesight of more than one-quarter of patients suffering from vision-robbing blood clots, according to researchers.


Injections with a steroid improved the eyesight of more than one-quarter of patients suffering from vision-robbing blood clots, a leading cause of blindness, according to researchers.

The incurable condition, called central retinal vein occlusion, is believed to affect about half of 1% of the world's population and is the second-leading cause of vision loss after macular degeneration. It frequently occurs in people with diabetes.

"These are extremely compelling results because a large, longer-term clinical trial has never before shown that patients with central retinal vein occlusion could experience a visual improvement with treatment," said Dr. Michael Ip of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who led the study that appeared in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

The condition is triggered by blood clots that slow or stop circulation in a large vein in the eye's light-sensitive retinal tissue. New blood vessel growth and leakage can result in swelling that causes vision loss.

How the study was done
The 271 study participants, who averaged 68 years old, were either given up to three injections over a year's time of 1 milligram of the corticosteroid triamcinolone, 4 milligrams of the drug, or no treatment at all.

The smaller dose provided the better outcome, with 27% showing vision improvement and fewer side effects than the larger dose. Side-effects included elevated pressure in the eye causing glaucoma, or cataracts. – (Reuters Health, September 2009)


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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