Tuesday, February 23, 2010

WV Bill Would Allow Optometrists To Perform Laser Surgeries For Glaucoma

Reported in the Charleston Gazette: As amended in the" West Virginia Senate on Feb. 22, SB230, a controversial bill to allow optometrists to perform specified surgical procedures, would let optometrists perform three types of laser surgery to treat glaucoma.
While opponents of the bill such as Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone argued Monday that's three procedures too many.
Stollings, a physician in Madison, said he became ill undergoing one of the laser surgery procedures for glaucoma, and considers himself fortunate he was under the care of an ophthalmologist -- a medical doctor with advanced training in treatment of eye diseases -- rather than an optometrist.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall), who offered the amendment on the Senate floor, said there are safeguards built into the proposed legislation.
The bill went through the Government Organization Committee, but bypassed the Health and Human Resources Committee. The Register-Herald quotes optometrist David Holliday, OD, saying, "Optometrists are performing these procedures in certain states. We're not the exception by any means. We feel comfortable with those procedures and fully qualified to do those jobs
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian scientists have identified one of the genetic causes of long-sightedness, a breakthrough that could lead to the development of a drug to treat vision loss. Long-sightedness - an inability to see things clearly when they are up close - affects about 10 per cent of the population.

Researchers led by Dr Paul Baird of CERA (affiliated with the University of Melbourne and is located at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital). identified changes in the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) gene which...are now suspected of playing a disruptive role in the proper development of the eye.

Massachusetts would require vision tests for elderly drivers.

In a front-page story, the Boston Globe reports that "key" Massachusetts state lawmakers, facing public concern over a raft of highly publicized accidents involving older drivers, yesterday proposed requiring vision tests for drivers over 75 years old seeking to renew their licenses, and granting legal immunity to doctors who report that their patients are not competent to drive.

The Globe notes that the new bill does not require healthcare professionals to report patients, and says they would be immune from lawsuits in cases in which they decline to report incompetent drivers. The measure would also ban text messaging while driving and forbid all drivers under age 18 from using cell phones while behind the wheel.

The legislation is scheduled for a vote tomorrow in the House.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Epimacular brachytherapy now used to treat AMD

Macular degeneration is an aggressive condition in which abnormal blood vessels form in the part of the eye called the macula. These blood vessels are very fragile and often leak blood and fluid, causing scar tissue to form.
This affects central vision, which is essential for everyday tasks such as reading and driving.
Sufferers struggle to recognize faces at a distance, have a blurred or blind spot in the centre of their vision, and straight lines can appear wavy.

A new treatment procedure called Epimacular brachytherapy, when used to treat patients requiring chronic anti-VEGF therapy, may reduce the burden of treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration.
According to results from a study presented at the joint meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology, a single procedure of epimacular brachytherapy can further improve visual acuity in a majority of this patient population while decreasing the number of injections required. Most important, 63% of patients enrolled in the study experienced improvement in their visual acuity while 50% of patients gained five or more letters of visual acuity at 6 months.
Preliminary results indicate that epimacular brachytherapy may help reduce treatment burden in a population of patients that are at high risk for visual decline, even if they are undergoing sustained anti-VEGF monotherapy, according to Pravin U. Dugel, MD, of Retinal Consultants of Arizona.

Eye experts in the UK are using epimacular brachytherapy to treat the wet form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). During outpatient surgery, surgeons place a "radioactive pellet" that travels down the inside of a probe into the eye, where it gives the macula a high dose of radiation designed to burn the abnormal blood vessels growing behind the retina
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