Thursday, August 27, 2009

News my parents would never have imagined!

Scientists have produced monkeys with genetic material from two mothers, an advance that could help women with some inherited diseases have healthy children but that would raise a host of safety, legal, ethical and social questions if attempted in people

Researchers at Oregon Health amp; Science University developed a way to replace most of the genes in the eggs of one rhesus macaque monkey with genes from another monkey. They then fertilized the eggs with sperm, transferred the resulting embryos into animals' wombs and produced four apparently healthy offspring.

According to Bloomberg News, "defective mitochondria are passed only from mother to child, not from the father." Data indicate that nearly one in 4,000 births produce babies with defective mitochondria. At present, there is a technique that allows doctors to assess the egg cells of women with mitochondrial diseases and pick the healthiest ones to use with in vitro fertilization procedures. Still, some women do not have any "adequate egg cells," a fact that inspired the Oregon team to devise a way to "replace defective DNA in the mitochondria

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fashion eyeglasses for children

Nebraska's Journal Star reported that eyeglasses are no longer the fashion don't for kids they once were, as wearers and manufacturers have realized they can be another accessory used to make a style, Fashion eyeglasses for children, Aug 2009

You should read the whole article.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gene Therapy Creates a New Fovea

Gene therapy for an inherited form of blindness shows promise, a U.S. study shows.

According to a study published in the Aug. online edition of Human Gene Therapy and in a letter to the editor in the Aug. 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, experimental gene therapy appeared to improve vision in three patients with Leber congenital amaurosis. In this condition an abnormal protein in sufferers' photoreceptors severely impairs their sensitivity to light. "It's like wearing several pairs of sunglasses in a dark room," says Artur Cideciyan, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who oversaw the trial

For the study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania injected a gene encoding a functional copy of a light-sensitivity protein into a small part of one eye of three patients, all in their twenties and blind since birth. Three months after treatment, all three patients showed substantial improvements in their ability to detect light. Notably, one year after treatment, one patient discovered that she could read an illuminated clock in the family car for the first time in her life.

The authors suggested that the brain can adapt to new sensory capacity, even in people who have been blind since birth

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Alzheimer's Patients have difficulty perceiving certain kinds of visual contrast

Memory loss in Alzheimer's disease conceals dramatic changes to vision which may make people seem less mentally competent than they actually are.

Researchers are now testing whether they could improve the lives of people with Alzheimer's by helping them see better, using low-tech interventions such as colored dinner plates, oversize change purses, and special bingo cards. The scientists believe that small changes, such as making sure patients can see a light switch or the edge of a stair, could have important consequences for their independence and quality of life.

Researchers from Dr Alice Cronin-Golomb's lab at Boston University have discovered that Alzheimer's patients have difficulty picking up on certain kinds of visual contrast. Unfortunately, the vision loss does not show up on a typical eye exam. So the problem may be blamed on memory, when it really is eyesight. A new rule of thumb may be that if you want a person with Alzheimer's to be able to see something, use bold contrasting colors.

One of the BU group’s collaborators, Grover C. Gilmore, dean of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, has found that healthy adults were able to identify letters faster than Alzheimer’s patients. Normally, such a delay might be chalked up to memory problems. But when he increased the visual contrast, he found that the difference between the two groups disappeared.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

The First Practice Academy

I just returned from a 2 day workshop called the The First Practice Academy.
This was a workshop held in Atlanta, GA. The sponsors were Ciba Vision and Essilor of America.
The entire event was aimed at a new business owner. I was one among over a 100 young doctors of optometry eager to listen to leaders in the industry. These leaders are individuals who started small themselves and grew into multi location, multi million dollar practices.
It was an amazing event - very inspiring and filled with great insights. I can't think of any other profession where this takes place. I have always been convinced that optometry is a very generous profession and this only went to further cement that opinion.
The speakers were Laurie L. Sorrenson, Amir Khoshnevis, Kelly Kerksick, Carole Burns, Mark Wright.

I want to thank the main sponsors for giving me an opportunity to be there...

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Monday, August 03, 2009

AARP says requiring road tests for seniors only is discriminatory

The CBS Evening News  reported that the number of Americans 65 and older expected to nearly double over the next 20 years and there are growing concerns about aging drivers behind the wheel. New Hampshire is one of only two states with mandatory road tests for seniors.
CBS correspondent Randall Pinkston explained, “In New Hampshire...every car and truck driver 75 or older must retake the road test to renew their driver's license”. Pinkston also pointed out that, while 15 percent of the nation's drivers are over 65, only 11 percent of them are involved in fatal crashes. But, starting at 65, their risk of accidents for every mile driven spikes up. By age 80, elderly drivers are as likely as 17-year-olds to have fatal crashes. Currently, Massachusetts is considering legislation to require older drivers to take road tests before renewing their licenses. Pinkston added, But, the American Association of Retired Persons, the AARP, says road tests only for older drivers are discriminatory, that health, not age is the decisive factor.

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A similar bill is proposed in North carolina

UIW School of Optometry to receive funding for San Antonio eye care clinic

University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) School of Optometry - (what a strange name for a school!) is in line to receive $250,000 from the government to help pay for a new eye-care clinic on San Antonio's East Side.

The school would use the money to provide eye exams and vision services to under-served residents in East San Antonio. The planned eye care clinic is slated to open in the spring of 2010. Funding for the project was included in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill, which recently passed the US House of Representatives, but still must still pass the US Senate

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Genetic Link To Age-related Cataracts Uncovered

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University have identified the EphA2 gene, which is associated with the formation of age-related cataract, a leading cause of blindness.

The gene encodes an enzyme that plays a role in the repair of damaged proteins in the eye. Expression of the EphA2 gene decreases with age, which means damaged proteins can clump together and cause the eye lens to become cloudy, resulting in obscured vision, according to the study in the July 31 issue of the journal PLoS Genetics

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Saturday, August 01, 2009


Florida researchers were able to program bone marrow stem cells to repair damaged retinas in mice, suggesting a potential treatment for one of the most common causes of vision loss in older people.

The success in repairing a damaged layer of retinal cells in mice implies that blood stem cells taken from bone marrow can be programmed to restore a variety of cells and tissues, including ones involved in cardiovascular disorders such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

In a paper slated to appear in the September issue of the journal Molecular Therapy, scientists describe how they used a virus carrying a gene that gently pushed cultured adult stem cells from mice toward a fate as retinal cells. Only after the stem cells were reintroduced into the mice did they completely transform into the desired type of vision cells, apparently taking environmental cues from the damaged retinas.

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Ozurdex Implant Approved for Macular Edema

OCT scan of a retina at 800nm with an axial re...Image via Wikipedia

An injectable eye implant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday is the first product sanctioned to treat the eye disorder macular edema when it is caused by blockage of the retinal vein.

The Ozurdex eye implant treats macular edema by delivering a high concentration of the corticosteroid dexamethasone.

Macular edema occurs when the eye's macula -- a part of the retina -- swells because of fluid accumulation from leaking or blocked retinal veins. In a news release, device maker Allergan, Inc. said retinal vein occlusion is a significant cause of vision loss and the second most common disease of the retinal veins, behind diabetic retinopathy.

The implant, which is biodegradable, was evaluated in a pair of clinical studies involving about 1,300 people.

The treatment, to be injected in a physician's office, is expected to be available later this year

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The FDA has approved Allergan Inc.'s Acuvail (ketorolac tromethamine ophthalmic solution) 0.45%, an advanced, preservative-free formulation of the NSAID ketorolac indicated for the treatment of pain and inflammation following cataract surgery. According to the company, Acuvail is formulated at pH 6.8, enabling deionized drug delivery on the corneal surface, and contains carboxymethylcellulose, which enables the drug to adhere to the ocular surface and enhances patient comfort. The company expects Acuvail to be available to physicians and patients in the United States in September 2009.

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Ocular Surface Temperature and Lipid Layer Thickness

The aim of this study was to establish the relationship between ocular surface temperature (OST), tear film stability as assessed by noninvasive tear break-up time (NIBUT) and subjective evaluation of the lipid layer thickness in a young, asymptomatic, sample group (n=29). NIBUT and tear lipid layer structure were evaluated through a slit-lamp mounted Tearscope Plus. A self-calibrating infrared thermography camera was used to record two OST values (one immediately post-blink and one immediately pre the subsequent blink).

The most common lipid layer pattern observed was the amorphous pattern (48.3%). Differences between post- and pre-blink OST values were observed. Significant differences of pre-blink OST values were observed between the closed marmoreal group with that from the amorphous and flow groups. There were no differences of NIBUT values between each lipid layer thickness.

A non-significant tendency for higher OST in eyes with increased NIBUT was observed. This study suggests that higher OST values could be associated with thicker tear lipid layer in normal subjects. The lack of significant results in relation with tear film stability may be due to only normal subjects were included.

NASA Study of Cataract in Astronauts

Cataract in Human EyeImage via Wikipedia

The NASA Study of Cataract in Astronauts (NASCA) is a 5-year longitudinal study of the effect of space radiation exposure on the severity/progression of nuclear, cortical and posterior subcapsular (PSC) lens opacities. Participants include 171 consenting astronauts who flew at least one mission in space and a comparison group made up of three components: (a) 53 astronauts who had not flown in space, (b) 95 military aircrew personnel and (c) 99 non-aircrew ground-based comparison subjects. Continuous measures of nuclear, cortical and PSC lens opacities were derived from Nidek EAS 1000 digitized images. Age, demographics, general health, nutritional intake and solar ocular exposure were measured at baseline. Astronauts who flew at least one mission were matched to comparison subjects using propensity scores based on demographic characteristics and medical history stratified by gender and smoking (ever/never).

The cross-sectional data for matched subjects were analyzed by fitting customized non-normal regression models to examine the effect of space radiation on each measure of opacity. The variability and median of cortical cataracts were significantly higher for exposed astronauts than for non-exposed astronauts and comparison subjects with similar ages. Galactic cosmic space radiation (GCR) may be linked to increased PSC area and the number of PSC centers. Within the astronaut group, PSC size was greater in subjects with higher space radiation doses. No association was found between space radiation and nuclear cataracts.

Cross-sectional data analysis revealed a small deleterious effect of space radiation for cortical cataracts and possibly for PSC cataracts. These results suggest increased cataract risks at smaller radiation doses than have been reported previously.

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