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Oxygen reduces effects of retinal detachment

Santa Barbara, Calif -- Getting oxygen and getting it fast should be the first priority of anyone experiencing retinal detachment, according to research published in the August issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Retinal detachment develops in 25,000 Americans annually and can result in blindness. The disease is often caused by holes or tears in the retina, the thin lining of light-sensitive nerve fibers and cells covering the inside wall of the eye. It usually requires emergency surgery.

Even though the current findings are the result of animal studies and not clinical trials on humans, the researchers say the results are so compelling that ophthalmologists everywhere may want to consider supplying oxygen to patients diagnosed with retinal detachment while they await surgery.

Nearsightedness, glaucoma, diabetes, severe eye injury, and advancing age are all risk categories for retinal detachment.

In an accompanying editorial, Thomas M. Aaberg, Sr., M.D., of Emory University, characterizes this recommendation as 'bold speculation,' and challenges the authors to further their studies in a way that will allow direct assessment of oxygen's ability to reduce a significant long-term effect of retinal detachment, the proliferation of cells on the retinal surface.

Yet he concludes by saying "Nevertheless, these articles increase understanding of retinal repair after retinal detachment, demonstrating the great value of translational research by building a bridge between the basic scientist and the retinal surgeon."

"The bottom line is that oxygen therapy reduces the amount of damage to the photoreceptor cells of the retina," said Steven K. Fisher, Ph.D., director of the Neuroscience Research Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and co-author of the articles. Photoreceptors, the light-sensitive cells of the retina, have the highest metabolic rate of the body, and h
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Contact: gail brown
gbrown@instadv.ucsb.edu
202-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
2-Aug-1999


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