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The effect of systemic erythropoietin and oral prednisolone on recent-onset non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy: a randomized clinical trial

  • Neurophthalmology
  • Published:
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To evaluate the effect of systemic erythropoietin, as well as oral steroids, in the management of recent-onset non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION).


Patients diagnosed with NAION within 5 days were randomized into group A (systemic erythropoietin), group B (oral steroids), and group C (control). Group A received 10,000 units of erythropoietin twice a day for 3 days. Group B received oral prednisone 75 mg daily tapered off in 6 weeks.


The mean best-corrected visual acuity (± SD) at the time of presentation was 1 ± 0.56, 1.01 ± 0.6, and 0.94 ± 0.47 logMAR in groups A, B, and C, respectively (P = 0.140); corresponding values at 6-month follow-up were 0.70 ± 0.44, 0.73 ± 0.35, and 0.75 ± 0.39 logMAR, respectively (P = 0.597). Fifty-five percent of patients in group A versus 34.3% in group B and 31.2% in group C had an improvement of at least 3 lines in the best-corrected visual acuity values at the 6th month of follow-up visit (P = 0.04). Peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layers at presentation were 189 ± 58, 193 ± 64, and 199 ± 62 micrometers, respectively (P = 0.779), which decreased to 88 ± 12, 74 ± 25, and 71 ± 18, respectively at 6-month follow-up (P = 0.041).


The findings of our study indicate the beneficial effects of systemic erythropoietin in preserving the function and structure of the optic nerve in recent-onset NAION.

Trial registration

Clinical registration number: IR.SBMU.ORC.REC.1397.18

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Correspondence to Hamed Esfandiari.

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Nikkhah, H., Golalipour, M., Doozandeh, A. et al. The effect of systemic erythropoietin and oral prednisolone on recent-onset non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy: a randomized clinical trial. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 258, 2291–2297 (2020).

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