• Written By: Howard Pomeranz, MD, PhD

    This pilot study found that intravenous erythropoietin (EPO) can improve visual function in patients with indirect traumatic optic neuropathy.

    This study is a preliminary report of one branch of an ongoing multicenter randomized clinical trial of different treatment modalities (EPO, high-dose steroid and placebo) for traumatic optic neuropathy.

    EPO is believed to have neuroprotective effects on neurons in the central nervous system and has been shown to be neuroprotective in animal models of stroke.

    They treated 18 patients with indirect traumatic optic neuropathy of less than two weeks’ duration with 20,000 IU intravenous erythropoietin daily for three days.

    At three months follow up, mean BCVA improved significantly. BCVA improved in 13 patients but in only two of the seven cases with baseline visual acuity of no light perception.

    The authors hypothesize that EPO may improve visual function following traumatic optic nerve injury by reducing apoptosis of retinal ganglion cells and improving neuro-regeneration in damaged axons.