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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
21-Jul-2014

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Contact: Mary Leach
Mary_Leach@meei.harvard.edu
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
@MassEyeAndEar

Iodine may alleviate swelling in retinitis pigmentosa patients' retinas

Findings online in JAMA Ophthalmology

Boston - Cystoid macular edema (CME) is a common complication of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a family of retinal diseases in which patients typically lose night and side vision first and then develop impaired central vision. CME can also decrease central vision. Current treatments for CME in RP are not always effective and can lead to adverse results.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, and Boston University School of Medicine tested whether the extent of retinal swelling due to CME was inversely related to dietary iodine intake in patients with RP and found that it was. This finding raises the possibility that an iodine supplement could help limit or reduce central foveal swelling in RP patients with CME. Their results are presented online in the July issue of JAMA Ophthalmology.

Past research performed on a previous population showed an inverse association between the presence of CME and reported iodine supplementation in RP patients. This finding and physiology research by others pointed to iodine as being worth investigating further. In the present experiment, the researchers performed a cross-sectional observational study of 212 nonsmoking patients 18 to 69 years of age who were referred to Mass. Eye and Ear for RP with visual acuity of no worse than 20/200 in at least one eye. They used optical coherence tomography to measure central foveal swelling due to CME in the patients. Total dietary intake of iodine was estimated from multiple (preferably, 10) spot urine samples collected at home.

The investigators found that the magnitude of central foveal swelling due to CME was inversely related to urinary iodine concentration when emphasizing data with more reproducible urinary iodine concentrations (p<.001) -- patients with the lowest urinary iodine levels tended to have retinas with the most swelling.

"Additional study is required to determine whether an iodine supplement can limit or reduce the extent of CME in patients with RP," said Michael A. Sandberg, Ph.D., lead author of the study and senior scientist in the Berman-Gund Laboratory for the Study of Retinal Degenerations at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

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This study was supported by grant EY019767 from the National Eye Institute; by the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Fund, Inc; and by a Center Grant from the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

Researchers include Michael A. Sandberg, Ph.D. , Elizabeth N. Pearce, M.D.; Shyana Harper, M.Sc.; Carol Weigel-DiFranco, M.A.; Lois Hart, RDMS; Bernard Rosner, PhD; Eliot L. Berson, M.D.

About Mass. Eye and Ear

Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness, and diseases of the head and neck. After uniting with Schepens Eye Research Institute in 2011, Mass. Eye and Ear in Boston became the world's largest vision and hearing research center, offering hope and healing to patients everywhere through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital that trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships.

Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. U.S. News & World Report's "Best Hospitals Survey" has consistently ranked the Mass. Eye and Ear Departments of Otolaryngology and Ophthalmology among the top hospitals in the nation. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit MassEyeAndEar.org.



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