OCT findings discover macular thinning in anorexic patients

Nov. 5, 2010
The eating disorder anorexia nervosa (AN) can lead to eye damage, possibly of a serious nature, according to an article published online on October 20 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

The eating disorder anorexia nervosa (AN) can lead to eye damage, possibly of a serious nature, according to an article published online on October 20 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, and as reported by Medscape Today.

Using optical coherence tomography (OCT), researchers from the University of Athens in Greece assessed the thickness and electrical activity of the macula in the eyes of 13 women with AN (with a mean age of 28.62) from the university's First Department of Psychiatry. All of the women had AN for a mean of 10.4 (±8.4) years. Twenty similarly aged, healthy women made up the control group. Each of the 33 participants had normal vision.

The macula, located near the retina’s center, processes light and allows detailed central vision. They also evaluated the thickness of the retinal-nerve fiber layer (RNFL) with a multifocal electroretinogram.

The results demonstrated that the maculas and the RNFLs of participants with AN were substantially thinner, among other findings:

  • The mean thickness of the fovea, a small, photoreceptor-rich pit near the macula's center, was 140.04 μm in the AN group vs. 150.85 μm in the control group (P = .005);
  • Around the optic nerve, the thickness of the RNFL in the superior area was 116.42 μm in the AN group vs. 123.15 μm in the control group (P = .372), and in the inferior area, it was 121.08 μm vs. 137.6 μm in the control group (P < .001);
  • The foveal area's mean P1 response density amplitude was 159.04 nV/deg2 in the AN group vs. 292.43 nV/deg2 in the control group (P < .0001), and for the perifoveal area, it was 79.04 nV/deg2 vs. 82.63 nV/deg2 (P = .118);
  • Greater foveal thickness was found in patients with AN who restricted food intake but did not purge (median, 142) than those who purged (median, 134), as indicated by OCT measurements of their left eye (Z, 2.37; P = .02).

"Our results show that the retinal thickness of the macula is higher in restrictive-type anorectic patients than in binge-purge type patients, which means that the anatomical impairment of the fovea is greater in the AN binge-purge type," the authors write.

The researchers acknowledged that the small number of patients in the study prohibited them from making conclusive arguments from their findings. They also stated that it is not known whether the macular thinning is a harbinger of vision loss or whether the condition might return to normal, should a patient recover. Further research is required, but the investigators hailed their initial investigation as a success.

Source: Medscape Today

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Posted by Lee Mather

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