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Effects of Desferoxamine on Retinal and Visual Function

Ming Lu, MD, PhD; Ronald M. Hansen, PhD; Melody J. Cunningham, MD; Susan E. Eklund, BA; Anne B. Fulton, MD
Arch Ophthalmol. 2007;125(11):1581-1582. doi:10.1001/archopht.125.11.1581.
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We describe recovery of vision and postreceptor retinal function but not photoreceptor function following severe, acute visual impairment associated with high-dose desferoxamine (DFO) used to chelate iron in a 36-year-old woman with β-thalassemia major.1,2 Survival of patients with β-thalassemia necessitates long-term transfusion with consequent iron overload of vital organs, for which chelation therapy is mandatory.

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Figure 1.

Courses of sensitivity of rod photoreceptor (S) (A), postreceptor retina (σ) (B), and dark-adapted (C) vision. In each panel, normal mean sensitivity and the limits of the 99% prediction interval (PI) for normal are shown. D, Dosages of desferoxamine (DFO).

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Figure 2.

Fundus photograph, left eye. The appearance of the right fundus was similar. At the time of the initial visit with visual symptoms, the fundi appeared normal. During the ensuing years, pigmentary retinopathy developed.

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