OTC Allergy Medicine Can Help Vision Loss from Multiple Sclerosis

APRIL 13, 2016
Amy Jacob
Clemastine fumarate, an over-the-counter drug used to fight allergies, can also treat vision damage in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The antihistamine specifically works by reversing the vision loss.
Ari Green, MD, assistant clinical director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University of California, San Francisco and colleagues conducted a study involving 50 patients who had been diagnosed with MS for an average of five years, but were also diagnosed with optic neuropathy.
For a three-month period, patients were assigned either the clemastine fumarate drug or a placebo.
The two groups were then switched for the last two months of the study.
One visual test involved researchers recording the time it took for a signal to travel from the retina to the visual cortex.
The study results indicated the antihistamine group exhibited a slight improvement in terms of the delays in time it took for visual information to travel from the eye to the brain – a mean of approximately two milliseconds.
The most commonly reported side effect of clemastine fumarate was drowsiness as well as a small increase in fatigue.
Green reported, “This study is exciting because it is the first to demonstrate possible repair of that protective coating in people with chronic demyelination from MS. “
“While the improvement in vision appears modest, this study is promising because it is the first time a drug has been shown to possibly reverse the damage done by MS,” Green concluded in a news release.
Results from the study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Vancouver.

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