Eliot L. Berson, M.D.
William F. Chatlos Professor of Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology
Dr. Berson investigates the causes of, and treatments for, retinal degenerations including retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and Leber congenital amaurosis. He and his co-workers discovered the first gene defects associated with RP - point mutations in the rhodopsin gene. They subsequently have identified 20 genes with mutations that lead to RP and allied retinal degenerations. Dr. Berson also discovered that electroretinographic (ERG) testing can be used to detect this condition in early life and to estimate the long-term visual prognosis for a given patient. He has developed the first treatment regimen for adults with the common forms of RP, specifically vitamin A palmitate 15,000 IU/day, an omega-3-rich oily fish diet (1-2 three ounce servings per week) and lutein 12 mg per day that can add up to 20 additional years of vision for patients who start this treatment by age 40.His current work investigates further treatment of these diseases with nutritional interventions. Dr. Berson is also participating in safety and efficacy studies in animal models of hereditary retinal degenerations with respect to gene therapy for these conditions.