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Eyes provide clue into multiple sclerosis progression

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 7, 2013

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Physicians can determine how rapidly multiple sclerosis is progressing in patients by examining their eyes, says a study published online Jan. 1, 2013, in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers analyzed the eyes of 164 patients with MS at the John Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis Center in Maryland. Participants underwent eye scans that measured thinning of the retina every six months for about 21 months.

The study found that patients who had MS relapses had faster thinning than those who did not have relapses. Patients whose level of disability worsened during the study experienced more thinning than patients who had no changes in their disability. Patients who had MS for less than five years showed faster thinning than those who had the disease for more than five years, the study said (link).

Determining the progression of MS can help doctors find the proper treatment for patients, the study authors said. As more therapies are developed to slow the progression of MS, testing retinal thinning may be helpful in evaluating the effectiveness of those therapies, said co-study author Peter Calabresi, MD, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center.

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