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Antidepressants & Vision

May 28, 2008

The antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) shows promise in correcting a vision problem.


Antidepressants for the eyes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Antidepressant drugs help some patients see the world differently. And that may someday be true in the literal sense, according to researchers in Italy and Finland. They found that the antidepressant fluoxetine, marketed as Prozac, helped adult rats overcome a vision problem called amblyopia, or lazy eye. José Maya Ventencourt of the Normal School of Pisa says the results were dramatic.

JOSE F. MAYA VETENCOURT (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy):
We observed a recovery of vision in adult rats with normal visual functions permanently impaired.

He says the drugs helped the rats’ brains rewire themselves in response to a simple treatment: covering up the good eye to make the weak eye work harder. That technique normally works for juveniles, whose brains are malleable, but not so well for adults. Next, the researchers plan to see if the drugs have a similar effect on human patients. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.