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Drug used for treating epilepsy could also be beneficial for multiple sclerosis patients

It is found that a drug commonly used for helping epilepsy patients with seizure problems could also be useful for those suffering from multiple sclerosis, in minimizing eye sight symptoms, characteristic for around half of the people with multiple sclerosis. The exact name of this condition is acute optic neuritis, and it is an inflammation of the nerve responsible for carrying information from the eye to the brain. This is extremely dangerous for those who experience it, because it can cause blindness. In milder cases it creates foggy blackened vision and can be very painful. What makes a situation even more problematic is that symptoms are not the only thing one should fear. This condition leaves behind a serious damage of the eyes and the nerves, even if the symptoms improve or recover completely.

At the moment, this multiple sclerosis condition is treated using steroid medication, while the new drug in question is phenytoin and is an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic. What it does for epilepsy patients is slowing down the brain impulses that create seizures.

This study was done on 86 people with acute optic neuritis. Some of them were taking phenytoin whilst the others were prescribed the placebo, without knowing. All of them were consuming what they were told within 2 weeks of having symptoms. After that, they continued for another 3 months.

To review the results, researchers measured the thickness of eye retina and tested the eyesight (color perception and sharpness) of every individual that participated. This have shown that those who were taking phenytoin had 30% less damage of retina nerves that those on placebo.

The findings of the study were presented at the American Academy of Neurology's (AAN) 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, by Dr. Raju Kapoor, of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, UK.


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