Eating disorder anorexia nervosa causes potentially serious eye damage

Oct 20, 2010

The eating disorder anorexia nervosa causes potentially serious eye damage, suggests a small study published online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

In developed countries, affects up to 3% of affluent women. Although the condition also increasingly affects men, around 10 women will be affected for every one man.

Anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic disease among teenage women, up to one in 10 of whom will die from it.

Researchers analysed the thickness of the macula and its electrical activity in both eyes of 13 women with anorexia nervosa and in 20 healthy women of the same age.

The average age of the women was 28. Those with anorexia had had their condition for an average of 10 years.

The macula lies near the centre of the at the back of the eye and is responsible for fine detailed central vision and the processing of light.

The tests to determine how well the eyes picked up fine detail, central vision, and colour showed that there were no obvious visual problems and that the eyes were working normally in both sets of women.

But the analysis showed that the macula and the nerve layers feeding it (retinal nerve fibre layer) were significantly thinner in the eyes of the women with anorexia nervosa

There was also significantly less firing of the (electrical activity) in the eyes of the women with anorexia nervosa. Dopamine neurotransmission is a key element of the brain’s ability to process visual images.

There even seemed to be differences between women with different patterns of anorexia.

The fovea - a small pit more or less at the centre of the macula that is rich in light sensitive cone cells (photoreceptors) - was thinner in those women who binged and purged than in those who simply severely restricted their calorie intake.

The authors conclude that it is not yet clear whether macular thinning and decreased neurotransmitter activity are the initial stages of progressive blindness or whether these signs will revert back to normal once normal eating patterns are resumed.

Explore further: Doctors' checklist could help decrease length of COPD patients' hospital stay

Related Stories

Marking anorexia with a brain protein

Jun 23, 2009

Eating disorders are frequently seen as psychological or societal diseases, but do they have an underlying biological cause? A new study shows that the levels of a brain protein differ between healthy and anorexic women.

Pregnant women with bulimia have more anxiety and depression

Sep 17, 2008

Women who have bulimia in pregnancy have more symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to pregnant women without eating disorders. A new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) shows that they also have ...

Recommended for you

Score IDs patients with upper extremity DVT at low risk

12 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with upper-extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT), six easily available factors can be used to create a score that identifies those at low risk of adverse events during the first ...

Combined drug treatment combats kidney disease

23 hours ago

A recent discovery by drug researchers whereby coupling specific cell membrane receptors has altered kidney cell function has triggered a re-think of how to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) more effectively.

Active substance targeting dreaded hospital germs

23 hours ago

In the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), scientists have conducted clinical studies on an active substance against the dreaded hospital pathogen Staphylococcus aureus: a highly effective protein from bacteriophages ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.