Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Optical Illusions

As a child I have always loved optical illusions. I still am fascinated by the effects they produce. Here is one

New Scientist reported that the cause of the above optical illusion, where the spirals appear to flow, has finally been solved.
This illusion was made famous by a 1981 painting, Isia Leviant's Enigma

Researchers from the Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona have demonstrated that the way our eyes constantly make tiny movements, called microsaccades, is responsible for the way concentric circles in the painting seem to flow before onlookers' eyes. For the experiment, the investigators had three participants view the painting while cameras recorded their eye movements 500 times every second. Next, the participants were asked to press a button when the speed of the optical 'trickle' of the illusion appeared to slow down or stop, and release it when the trickle seemed faster. The results showed that the illusion became more pronounced when microsaccades were happening at a faster rate. But, when the rate slowed to a stop, the illusion vanished. The authors said that their research may also explain other similar illusions

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hurler regains sight after 'miracle' diet supplement

The Irish Independent reported that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition affecting the central part of the retina at the back of the eye. AMD affects one in 10 people over the age of 50, and is the leading cause of blindness in the Western world.

Dara Kilmartin, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at the Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, explained that, by 2020, the number of people with AMD is going to at least double, because people are living longer. Dr. Kilmartin said that the risk of AMD becomes greatest over the age of 65. One in five people over 75 will have AMD. Dr. Kilmartin pointed out that risk factors include age, family history, and smoking. In addition, there is a possible link between AMD and obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Dr. Kilmartin urged older people to get their eyes tested more often, and to check their 'straight ahead' vision" in each eye separately. The article also discussed the experience of Rosemary Smith, a patient with the wet form of AMD, who is now a peer counselor with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.

Here is a story of remarkable improvement from Vitamin Therapy

Thursday, September 18, 2008

IOl blocks UV Rays

Intraocular lenses, or IOLs, are the artificial lenses that replace the eye's natural lens that is removed during cataract surgery. IOLs have been around since the 60s, though the FDA gave its approval for one occurred in 1981. Before that, if you had cataracts removed, you had to wear very thick eyeglasses or special contact lenses in order to see afterward, since the natural lens that had been removed wasn't replaced with anything. Traditional IOLs are monofocal, meaning they offer clear vision at distance only, making the need for reading lenses an absolute necessity. New 'multifocal and/or accommodating' IOLs offer the possibility of seeing well at more than one distance, without glasses or contacts.

WHAM-TV Rochester, an ABC affiliate, reported that patients undergoing cataract surgery might want to ask about new replacement lenses that work like heavy duty sunglasses. By blocking ultraviolet (UV) rays and blue light from getting into the eye, the Acry Sof Natural lens filters out potentially damaging rays that can damage the retina in two ways: worsening or creating macular degeneration and tumors or melanoma inside the eye. The new intraocular lens is covered by medical insurance plans.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Complementary, alternative medicine becoming more mainstream

I was recently @ the local chapter of Optometrist meeting where the topic of discussion was Complimentary Medicine as applied to Dry Eye and Hormonal Balance. I was very intrigued by what I heard.

On the front page of its Health section, the Washington Post reports that the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive the latest indication that alternative medicine is making its mark in mainstream healthcare settings.

This link with Hopkins is part of a trend toward integrating CAM [complementary and alternative medicine] with conventional medicine. A recent survey of 1,400 hospitals found that 27 percent offered some sort of alternative or complementary treatment, which represents a significant increase from eight percent in 1998.

Last year, Hopkins -- a bastion of mainstream medicine -- joined the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. This group of 41 medical centers has pledged to invest in CAM research, and to introduce integrative models of clinical care. The Post notes that the National Institutes of Health will invest about $300 million in CAM research this year.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Boy with low vision plays offensive tackle on youth football team!

California's San Mateo Daily News reported that 10-year-old Tino Benelli, a student who plays offensive tackle as well as defense for the local Pop Warner team, Bayside Broncos, has albinism, a condition that renders him legally blind.

Currently, the boy plays football with low to no vision, because referees do not allow him to wear a doctor-prescribed, tinted face shield, for safety reasons. But, starting next week, he will wear tinted goggles instead. Until then, Tino will play without any light-filtering protection. The Daily News explained that albinism refers to a group of inherited conditions in which people have little or no pigment in their eyes, skin, or hair. They have altered genes that do not make the usual amounts of a pigment called melanin. One in every 17,000 residents in America has some type of albinism. According to the Daily News, people with albinism always have problems with vision, which are not correctable with eyeglasses, and many have low vision.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Radiation for Macular Degeneration

One can tel how much time/money and effort is being placed on the problem that's facing the older generation by looking at media exposure and technological advances. Here is another report shown on KGO-TV San Francisco, an ABC affiliate, yesterday.

Macular Degenaration is the most common form of vision loss among people over 60. In a clinical trial taking place in San Jose, Calif., "a combination therapy" is "being tested by Amr Dessouki, M.D. For the trial, Dr. Dessouki will first inject patients' eyes with Lucentis (ranibizumab), a drug approved to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, that is proven to block abnormal blood vessel growth and prevent bleeding. Next, Dr. Dessouki will saturate the cluster of blood vessels with a targeted dose of radiation delivered by "a laser device about the size of a fountain pen. ... The laser radiation is calibrated precisely for the size of the lesion, and administered for a preset amount of time." Should the clinical trial be successful, the combination treatment could free patients from a life of monthly injections!

Implantable capsule may help treat dry macular degeneration

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked a novel treatment for two eye diseases: age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The new treatment, developed by the Lincoln, RI, biotech company Neurotech, is a capsule that's surgically implanted in the eye.

Inside are genetically engineered cells that produce a protein that may prevent light-sensitive cells in the retina from dying, thus protecting vision. The device is currently in phase II clinical trials. Retinal cells translate light into electrical signals, which are relayed to the brain. But, in both retinitis pigmentosa and in the dry form of age-related macular degeneration, light-sensitive cells in the retina degenerate over time, resulting "in loss of vision."

Currently, RP and dry AMD patients have few or no treatment options. Implanted in the vitreous humor, the device, which is made of a semipermeable plastic, allows ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) protein to diffuse into the retina. In animal studies," CNTF "slowed the degeneration of retinal cells in diseases analogous to RP.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Intra Ocular lens

Ohio's Newark Advocate reported that, during cataract surgery, doctors remove the natural lens of the eye and replace it with a new one.

Now, a series of premium lenses allows...more freedom for cataract patients than traditional monofocal lenses. Two multifocal lenses -- ReZoom and ReStor -- have concentric circles with different focusing zones. By comparison, the Crystalens is a homogenous lens that has special arms that allow eye muscles to focus naturally by moving the lens back and forth within the eye.

The Advocate pointed out that each lens has its advantages and drawbacks. For example, rings in the ReStor and ReZoom lenses can cause some patients to experience a halo effect or glare, which should diminish with time. The single lens Crystalens has less glare. The ReStor lens is best for close-up vision; ReZoom and Crystalens are stronger for intermediate and distance vision. A soon-to-be released, new version of supposed to improve reading vision over its previous design. Despite their advantages, premium lenses are often not covered by insurance, and cost roughly $1,295 per eye, on average.

Eye drops no more

A tiny coil, which is implanted in the eye, could mean an end to the injections and drops used by thousands of patients with common eye complaints.

The spiral-shaped" device, which is inserted through a hollow needle, can be loaded with drugs to treat conditions, such as glaucoma and diabetic macular edema. Called the I-vation, the device is similar to a Slinky toy, and made from a metal alloy. The implant is injected into the a minimally invasive procedure that takes just 15 minutes.

Medications are mixed into a material which coats the device. Then, as the coating slowly dissolves, they are released over a period of up to two years, medicating the eye continuously.
Here is a comparison of the device with a quarter:

The device's "coiled shape" provides a large surface area available for the drug coating, and also makes it possible to lodge it against the white of the eye, without the need for stitches, and where it can be easily removed and replaced.

High Tech for Low Vision

More than 16 million Americans report some form of visual impairment, even when wearing glasses or contacts. That number is expected to double by 2030 as the aging population brings rising rates of macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other eye diseases.

For people who suffer from "'low vision' (technically, worse than 20/60 in the better eye), an ever-growing array of devices can help them maximize their remaining vision and, in many cases, compensate for what they've lost. Still, people who are visually impaired should have a comprehensive vision rehab assessment. This includes a visit with an eye doctor, a technology specialist, and an occupational therapist who can evaluate a person's limitations and goals. While Medicare and private insurance will pay for a doctor's evaluation and occupational therapy, most devices generally aren't covered. But, low-vision clinics may be able to get discounts for you, or suggest lower-priced alternatives. Wall Street Journal's Personal Journal section, Melinda Beck lists a number of devices, computer programs, and gadgets designed specifically for people with low vision.

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