-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- People with the eating
disorder anorexia nervosa may be at risk for potentially serious
eye damage, says a small new study from Greece.
This damage can occur in the macula, which is located near the
center of the retina at the back of the eye and is responsible for
fine detailed central vision and the processing of light.
In this study, researchers at the University of Athens compared
the thickness of the macula and its electrical activity in the eyes
of 13 women who'd had anorexia nervosa for an average of 10 years
and 20 healthy women without anorexia who served as controls. The
average age of the women was 28.
When compared to the healthy women, those with anorexia nervosa
had no obvious visual problems and their eyes were working
normally. However, the macula and the nerve layers feeding it
(retinal nerve fibers) were much thinner in the eyes of the women
with anorexia nervosa. Their eyes also showed significantly less
firing of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays an important
role in the brain's ability to process visual images.
The researchers also found differences between women with
certain patterns of anorexia nervosa. The fovea -- a part of the
macula that is rich in light-sensitive cones (photoreceptors) --
was thinner in women who binged and purged than in those who only
severely restricted their calorie consumption.
Further research is needed to determine if these changes in the
eyes are the initial stages of progressive blindness or whether the
eyes would return to normal if a patient with anorexia nervosa
resumed regular eating habits, said the University of Athens
The study appears online in the
British Journal of Ophthalmology.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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