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Oxygen therapy may improve vision worsened by diabetes

Oxygen delivered through the nose may improve poor vision caused by diabetic macular edema, fluid buildup in the part of the eye responsible for central vision, according to a pilot study by scientists at Johns Hopkins and the National Eye Institute.

In a study of five diabetic patients with persistent macular edema, breathing supplemental oxygen for three months reduced fluid buildup and swelling in the macula and, in some cases, improved visual acuity. Researchers think the therapy could be used in conjunction with laser treatments that also improve oxygenation in the retina to provide long-term stability in these patients.

"The results were really dramatic," says Peter A. Campochiaro, M.D., senior author of the study and a professor of ophthalmology and neuroscience at Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute.

For the study, published in a recent issue of the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the researchers studied nine eyes of three men and two women, ages 52 to 69, who had type 2 diabetes for an average of nine years. All patients had received at least one laser eye treatment. Despite an average of 2.7 treatments per eye, all eyes except one had persistent edema.

Patients were given 4 liters per minute of oxygen delivered by small tubes inserted into their noses, and instructed to use the oxygen continuously every day for three months, removing the tube only when taking showers. They were provided with a stationary oxygen concentrator for home and portable oxygen tanks to use outside the home.

After three months, excess thickness of the macula was reduced by an average of 43 percent in all nine eyes. Excess thickness of the fovea, the part of the eye responsible for the sharpest vision, was reduced by 42 percent, and macular volume dropped by 54 percent. In addition, three eyes improved in visual acuity, with the ability to see two lines higher on a standard eye chart.

"The likelihood that these mea
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Contact: John Lazarou
jlazaro1@jhmi.edu
410-502-8902
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
17-May-2004


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