Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blindness Threat From Macular Degeneration Declines in U.S

The number of Americans with macular degeneration fell 30 percent in about two decades," according to a studpublished in the January issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, reducing the threat from the leading cause of blindness among the elderly. 
The study's results are unexpected, given the fact that the population as a whole is aging. However, reductions in smoking and blood pressure, key risks for the condition, and increased use of antioxidant vitamins that keep the disease at bay may account for the decline, the study authors explained.
The findings were unexpected, as previous work suggested the aging population would drive up rates of the condition, known as AMD, said researchers led by Ronald Klein from the University of Wisconsin’s department of ophthalmology in Madison. Reductions in smoking and blood pressure, key risks for the condition, and increased use of antioxidant vitamins that keep the disease at bay may account for the decline...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Smart Block on Sunglasses

A new technology described in the latest issue of Popular Science Magazine describes a kind of 'dynamic' sunglasses.

The lenses in these frames are actually LCDs that rely on an embedded camera to locate sources of glare like the sun. Even if there are multiple sources – say, the sun and the reflection of the sun off water or snow – the LCD lenses place a dark spot over the glare. You move, the glare moves, the dark spots move with it. The rest of the lenses stay relatively lightly tinted so you can see what you’re doing.

The company called Dynamic Eye is led by The company is led by Chris Mullin, who received his PhD in physics from the University of California at Berkeley. They do have a prototype, but production is yet to begin. However, different levels of pledges will reward you appropriately.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Needles trump patches in Amblyopia.

Ann Curley of CNN reported that acupuncture is helping to improve vision in children with lazy eye - also called amblyopia, this affects an estimated .3 to 5 percent of people worldwide. It occurs when one eye is weaker than the other and the vision signals from the weaker eye are improperly processed by the brain. Amblyopia happens when the nerve pathway from one eye to the brain does not develop during childhood. This leads to the abnormal eye sending a blurred image or the wrong image to the brain confusing or ignoring the image from the weaker eye.

This reporting was based on a study published online in the Archives of Ophthalmology. For the study, researchers compared the effectiveness of two hours of daily patching therapy with acupuncture for treating lazy eye in 88 children aged seven to 12, all of whom had already worn glasses for at least 16 weeks. After 15 weeks of both therapies, vision clarity improved in more than 66 percent of the patch group and more than 75 percent of the acupuncture group. Lazy eye was declared resolved in 41.5 percent of the acupuncture group and in 16.7 percent of the patched eye group

HealthDay reported, About half the children were treated five times a week with acupuncture, targeting five specific acupuncture needle insertion points (located at the top of the head and the eyebrow region, as well as the legs and hands). Meanwhile, the other half were given two hours a day of patch therapy, combined with a minimum of one hour per day of near-vision exercises, such as reading. Then, after about four months of treatment, the research team found that overall visual acuity improved markedly more among the acupuncture group relative to the patch group.

MedPage noted that the mechanism why acupuncture works remains unclear, but researchers led by Dr Dennis Lam at the The Joint Shantou International Eye Center say that acupuncture at vision-related acupoints may modulate the activity of the visual cortex. What's more, acupuncture has also been shown to be effective in increasing blood flow to the cerebral and ocular vasculatures, stimulating the expression or retinal nerve growth factors and leading to metabolic changes in the central nervous system.

As an aside I find this commercial involving acupuncture hilarious!

Monday, December 06, 2010

People with type 2 diabetes who drink alcohol are at increased risk for blurry vision unrelated to retinopathy, according to Joline W.J. Beulens, PhD, of University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues published in the journal Diabetic Medicine.

There was two-line loss of acuity in participants reporting one to 14 drinks or more a week compared with those who don't drink. They calculated that each additional drink per week increased the risk of two-line acuity loss by 2%.

While moderate drinking did not increase the risk for or progression of retinopathy in a study of more than 1,200 diabetics it nearly doubled the risk of losing two eye-chart lines of visual acuity over an average of five years.

Retinal vascular lesions by mydriatic stereoscopic photography, were no more common in diabetics who drank than in those who didn't. The study authors theorized, Alcohol is known for its neurotoxic properties, which could induce oxidative damage to the retina and the optic nerve, leading to visual loss."
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Eye-Protective Effects of Omega-3-Rich Fish, Shellfish

Researchers at Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, wanted to know whether a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) would be found in a population of older people for whom fish and shellfish were a normal part of the diet, since some fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

A diet rich in omega-3s probably protects against advanced AMD, the leading cause of blindness in whites in the United States, according to the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and other recent studies. High concentrations of omega-3s have been found in the eye's retina, and evidence is mounting that the nutrient may be essential to eye health. The new research, led by Sheila K. West, PhD, was part of the Salisbury Eye Evaluation (SEE) study.

"Our study corroborates earlier findings that eating omega-3-rich fish and shellfish may protect against advanced AMD." Dr. West said. "While participants in all groups, including controls, averaged at least one serving of fish or shellfish per week, those who had advanced AMD were significantly less likely to consume high omega-3 fish and seafood," she said.

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Electrical Activity of Retina May Detect Early Stage Glaucoma.

A test that measures the function of nerve cells in the retina may detect glaucoma at an early stage and help doctors evaluate the effectiveness of treatments, according to a study conducted by Dr Sehi and colleagues at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The study was based on the knowledge that retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) become dysfunctional as glaucoma progresses and that such changes can be measured using the pattern electroretinogram optimized for glaucoma screening (PERGLA). PERGLA measures the electrical activity of a patient's retina as he or she views an alternating pattern of black and white lines.

In a study of 47 people with glaucoma who had surgery because their intraocular pressure could not be controlled by medications the test was able to show reversal of RGC dysfunction and reduced intraocular pressure after the operations. Dr. Sehi says these results should be interpreted cautiously until confirmed by larger studies. She calls for longitudinal studies to clarify the relationship between reduced IOP and increased RGC response and to further investigate PERGLA assessment of RGC dysfunction as a biomarker for glaucoma.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Glucose Control May Influence Outcome Of Ranibizumab Treatment For Diabetic Macular Edema.

Diabetic macular edema.Image via Wikipedia

According to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, glucose control influences the outcome of ranibizumab treatment for diabetic macular edema.

This retrospective study enrolled 65 eyes of 65 patients with persistent DME treated with intravitreal ranibizumab injection. The main outcome measures were the change in best corrected visual acuity (BCVA), the central subfield macular thickness (CSMT) recorded with optical coherence tomography (OCT), and its correlation with the serum hemoglobin A1c values (HbA1c).

Researchers found that serum levels of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) showed a negative correlation with the change in central subfield macular thickness (CSMT) after intravitreal injection of ranibizumab.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

For only the second time, the FDA has approved a test in people of a treatment using embryonic stem cells -- this time for a rare disease that causes serious vision loss. This was covered on the front page of the Business Day section in NY times.

Researchers at the California-based Advanced Cell Technology explained that their experiment will focus on Stargardt disease, which affects only about 30,000 Americans. But the company hopes the same approach will work for similar and more common eye disorders like age-related macular degeneration, which affects millions.

The current study will involve injecting 50,000 to 200,000 cells known as retinal pigmented epithelial cells in the hopes that they will replace those ravaged by the disease.
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