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Prevention of eye attacks

Penn researchers to study treatment options for 'eye attacks'
Goal is to minimize collateral damage and prevent involvement of second eye

The terms heart attack and brain attack have become commonplace, but now neuro-ophthalmologists are waging war on the all too common, underreported, and untreated condition referred to as eye attacks. These attacks, known medically as Ischematic Optic Neuropathy (ION), result from a sudden lack of blood flow to the eye. Eye attacks, which are usually painless, can develop quite rapidly--sometimes overnight, often with catastrophic consequences to the vision of the individual, such as a sudden and permanent loss of peripheral or central vision in one eye. The resulting visual impairment and the degree of severity usually varies from patient to patient but can include loss of the bottom half of ones vision and difficulty with light and darkness.

University of Pennsylvania Medical Center researchers are working to help educate the public about this condition, which is the most common cause of acute optical nerve disease in adults over 50 years of age. While the frequency of the condition is estimated to occur in only a couple of people per thousand, per year, the catastrophic results are unquestioned. Studies indicate that irreversible damage can occur as quickly as within the first 90 seconds of the attack. Prompt acknowledgement and treatment of the problem are essential if there is any chance of minimizing present and future damage, says neuro-ophthalmologist and researcher Nicholas J. Volpe MD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology & Neurology at the University of Pennsylvanias Scheie Eye Institute. However, a new multi-center clinical trial, funded by the pharmaceutical company Allergan, is about to commence at approximately 50 research sites across the country, including the Scheie Eye Institute. The goal of the study is to determine whether neuro-protection-- i.e., deliverin
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Contact: Michael S. Williams
mike.williams@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5653
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
9-Jan-2001


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