Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cataracts are the most common age-related eye disease, with more than 17 percent of Americans age 40 and over affected. The main cause, aside from plain old aging, is exposure to ultraviolet B radiation in sunlight. People can reduce their risk and delay the need for surgery to remove a clouded lens by wearing sunglasses and brimmed hats while outside.

At present, cataract surgery has been refined so that the super small incisions are self-sealing. Besides cataracts, eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration also affect seniors, although they are more insidious. Typically, medications are used to slow the damage caused by glaucoma. Meanwhile, high doses of supplements, including vitamins C and E and beta carotene and the mineral zinc, have been found to slow the progression of AMD in several trials.

This report was published in the US News and World Report

It was also noted that people with diabetes have added reason to worry: Diabetic retinopathy affects some 40 percent of people with the disease, with 8 percent of all diabetics facing significant vision loss. Keeping your blood sugar levels under control reduces the risk of harm.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly

A study by the Johns Hopkins University’s Wilmer Eye Institute found people with glaucoma in both eyes (bilateral) read 29 words per minute slower than those without glaucoma. They also were almost twice as likely to have reading impairment.

Those with glaucoma in one eye (unilateral) had rates about on par with those without the condition, which can cause eye damage and vision loss.

The findings were published in the January issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

On the front of its Style section, the Washington Post reports that after losing an eye in a car accident, Tanya Vlach, of San Francisco, CA, wants a new computer eye to replace the natural one she lost. After she put a request for help out on the Internet, Vlach was deluged by tons and tons of responses from hundreds of young techies, some of whom wanted to fit a cell phone camera...into Vlach's beautiful but merely decorative blue acrylic orb.

Vlach settled upon Frank Oliver, 37, whose start-up company, Artisan Robotics, focuses on cutting-edge materials science and power systems for aerospace and military robots. Oliver believes it may take two or three years to develop the eye.

James Weiland, a retinal prosthesis researcher at the University of Southern California's Artificial Retina Project, said the project is not insurmountable, but so many components have to come together that it would be...a challenge.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stem cells to treat corneal blindness

On its website, BBC News reported that researchers at Scotland's Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh, working with the Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow, will work together using an innovative technique involving adult stem cells to treat patients with corneal blindness. Approximately 20 patients will take part in the initial tests, using cells cultivated before being transplanted onto the surface of the cornea. But, unlike the more controversial embryonic stem-cell research, the technique takes stem cells from dead adult donors. Not long ago, in trials at the University of Pennsylvania, subjects with inherited blindness experienced dramatic improvements in vision after a corrective gene was injected into the eye. The Scottish researchers hope to emulate the success of this previous study.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Choices for Presbyopia Correction

Presbyopia is the slow deterioration of close vision and is most commonly attributed to aging. The condition is caused by a loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens, the structure behind the iris that enables the eye to focus on objects at various distances. People with presbyopia have the choice of correction their vision with reading glasses, monovision contact lenses (one eye is corrected for distance, one for up close), or laser surgery.

In the New York Times SSkin Deep column, Camille Sweeney observed that as the population ages, experts in the eye-care industry say the potential for the presbyopia correction market is huge.

In early trials is a treatment called the transscleral light therapy system, pioneered by a company called Oculatek: in which a laser device emits a low level of light aimed at strengthening the ciliary muscle...under the whites of the eyes. Another option is refractive lens exchange, an outpatient surgical procedure which involves 'replacing the natural crystalline lens with an artificial one'.

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