New vitamin B treatment "can protect eyesight"

New vitamin B treatment "can protect eyesight"

By Adrian Galbreth

Experts in Italy have made a new discovery in the fight against keratoconus, a demanding eye condition which can severely impact people's quality of life.

A new vitamin B-based therapy called collagen crosslinking has been shown to improve vision in almost seven in ten of patients treated for keratoconus in a recent three-year clinical conducted in Milan, Italy.

As the treatment was shown to be effective in clinical trials in the United States, it is likely to receive FDA approval in 2012, according to a report presented at the 115th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Orlando, Florida.

There, researcher Dr Paolo Vinciguerra described the treatment and three-year follow up of more than 250 keratoconus patients who received collagen crosslinking at his clinic.

Overall, 68 per cent of the 500 eyes treated gained significant visual acuity, with their results remaining stable at the end of the follow-up period and patients over the age 18 shown as most likely to improve.

During the collagen crosslinking procedure, riboflavin (vitamin B) is applied to the cornea, which is then exposed to a specific form of UV light, with collagen fibres then regenerating with new bonds forming between them, increasing corneal stiffness and strength.

It also combats the causes of keratoconus, reducing the chance that it will recur, while the rest of the eye receives only minimal UV exposure during treatment, Dr Vinciguerra explained.

"For many people with keratoconus, collagen crosslinking can provide a better and more permanent solution to their vision problems. Given that no current treatment in use in the US offers permanent correction, this effective option represents a significant advance for corneal medicine," the expert said.

The study may have positive ramifications for people across the globe suffering from keratoconus, with treatment perhaps becoming widespread in the near future. 

by Emily Tait

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