Ivermectin for onchocercal eye disease (river blindness)

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Ivermectin can prevent damage to the front of the eye but its effectiveness in preventing blindness remains uncertain.

Onchocerciasis causes severe itching and thickening of the skin, and damages structures at the front and back of the eye. It also affects the nerve that connects the eye with the brain. Onchocerciasis is caused by tiny worms that are transmitted from person to person by a small biting fly. The fly breeds in fast-flowing rivers and streams mainly in West Africa, although it is also endemic in some countries in the Americas and eastern Mediterranean. It is believed that ivermectin (a microfilaricide) could prevent blindness due to onchocerciasis. This review assesses the effectiveness of ivermectin in preventing visual impairment and visual field loss in onchocercal eye disease.

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