Eye Damage From Diabetes Remains The Leading Cause Of Blindness In Adults; 5.3 Million In U.S. Suffer From Diabetic Retinopathy

Despite major progress in diagnosis and treatment, diabetic retinopathy remains the major cause of blindness in adults under 60 in the U.S., said Thomas C. Lee, director, Retina Institute in The Vision Center at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and attending physician at Doheny Eye Institute.

Diabetic retinopathy affects 5.3 million adults in the U.S. and some 24,000 of them go blind each year. Nearly sixty percent of all diabetes patients are expected to develop diabetic retinopathy within ten years of their diagnosis.

Diabetic retinopathy is the abnormal growth of blood vessels on the surface of the retina and is caused by fluctuations in glucose levels. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue, about the thickness of a postage stamp, at the back of the eye.

If diagnosed early and treated properly, much of the damage can be contained. Unfortunately, many diabetics suffer major vision loss unnecessarily, noted Dr. Lee. “Patients suffering from the early stages of diabetic retinopathy may not notice any changes in their vision. That’s why an annual eye exam for anyone diagnosed with diabetes or at risk of the disease is important.”

With timely laser surgery and proper follow-up care, people with diabetic retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 90 percent. In scatter laser treatment, the surgeon places 1,000-2,000 tiny laser burns in specific areas of the retina. These shrink the abnormal blood vessels and help secure the retina in its proper place.

Almost 21 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and about 6 million of those are undiagnosed. Every year, some 15,000 youth in the U.S. are newly diagnosed with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes and about 3,700 are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Almost 90 percent of people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy.

Dr. Lee noted that while the rate of new cases of diabetes is now decreasing in the white population, it continues to dramatically increase among Hispanics. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program, Mexican-Americans, the largest Hispanic subgroup in the U.S., are twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. Given current trends, by the year 2050, about 40 percent of Hispanic men and 50 percent of Hispanic women born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes.

About The Vision Center

The Vision Center at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is an international referral center known for its family friendly environment of children afflicted with all forms of eye disease and provides a full range of inpatient and outpatient services. It is the largest pediatric ophthalmology program in the nation with multiple subspecialty programs that are considered to be among today’s finest resources for diagnosis, treatment and research.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

The Glaucoma Foundation Creates New Award

The Glaucoma Foundation (TGF) announced the creation of an annual Award for Innovation and Excellence in Glaucoma. This new honor recognizes the contributions of individuals who have played a significant and unique role in promoting the medicine and science of glaucoma.

The first 2008 Glaucoma Foundation Award for Innovation & Excellence in Glaucoma will be presented to Robert Ritch, MD, on December 3, 2008, at the 22nd Black and White Ball, TGF’s yearly benefit gala.

Dr. Ritch, founder of TGF, holds the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Distinguished Chair in Ophthalmology and is Surgeon Director and Chief of Glaucoma Services at the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary, and Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at The New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York.

“Dr. Ritch has devoted his career to broadening the understanding of the nature of glaucoma and innovation in the medical, laser and surgical treatment of the disease,” said Scott R. Christensen, President of The Glaucoma Foundation. “His input has been essential to setting the momentum for research in the field.”

Dr. Ritch serves as The Glaucoma Foundation’s Medical Director and Chairman of its Scientific Advisory Board. He founded TGF in 1984 to support basic and clinical research to identify factors that lead to glaucoma and to develop new methods of treatment. At the time, the public was barely aware of the disease and its devastating effects. In 1994 he initiated The Glaucoma Foundation’s annual Think Tank on Optic Nerve Rescue and Restoration, gathering 12 scientists and researchers that first year to discuss the latest research in the emerging field of nerve regeneration. The International Think Tank, unique in its interdisciplinary format, has attracted successful researchers in other fields to glaucoma and continues to generate new thinking that has greatly advanced the field of glaucoma research.

Robert Ritch, MD

Dr. Ritch has co-authored six books and over 1200 medical and scientific papers, book chapters, articles and abstracts. He has trained over 120 clinical and research fellows, many of whom occupy academic positions worldwide. He was one of the three organizers of the first annual World Glaucoma Day in 2008. He was co-founder of the Ophthalmic Laser Surgical Society, the New York Glaucoma Society, and the Lindberg Society, an international organization dedicated to the eradication of exfoliation syndrome, and the U.S.-Russia Ophthalmology Task Force. He is the recipient of numerous awards. In 2006 he received the Albion O. Bernstein, MD Award of the Medical Society of the State of New York for outstanding contributions to medicine. More recently he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Honor Award and the Leadership in Education in Ophthalmology (LEO) Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Dean’s Distinguished Research Award from the New York Medical College. He has organized meetings, established teaching programs and helped to modernize ophthalmology in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar and other countries in Asia.

The Glaucoma Foundation

The mission of The Glaucoma Foundation (TGF) is to fund groundbreaking research and to educate the public about the disease and the importance of early detection to prevent blindness. Founded in1984 by Dr. Robert Ritch, TGF is one of the premier not-for-profit organizations dedicated to eradicating blindness from glaucoma through vital research and education. In addition to the new TGF Award for Innovation and Excellence in Glaucoma, the organization sponsors two other annual accolades: The Kitty Carlisle Hart Award of Merit for Lifetime Achievement and the Corporate Visionary Award.

The Glaucoma Foundation

Eye candy: Transcriptional control of vertebrate eye development

Dr Greg Lemke and colleagues have determined that two ventral anterior homeobox (Vax) genes act as intracellular
effectors of Shh signaling in the developing eye field and are required for proper optic nerve formation.

During embryogenesis, the optic vesicle is strictly compartmentalized into dorsal and ventral domains, the former of which
gives rise to the retina, and the latter of which forms the optic nerve.

By creating Vax1/2 double knock-out mice, Dr. Lemke and colleagues found that Vax1 and Vax2 are necessary for the repression
of Pax6 expression, the ventralization of the eye field, and subsequent development of the optic nerve. Dr. Lemke notes that
“in many respects, the eyes represent a default differentiation pathway for the front end of the developing brain. To make an
optic nerve and connect the eyes to the rest of the brain, this default pathway must be blocked and re-directed, and that’s
what the Vax genes do.”

Contact: Heather Cosel
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

World Glaucoma Day Highlights The Need To Know Your Risks, Save Your Sight

Glaucoma’s special
danger is that it can significantly damage the optic nerve before a
person notices problems with his eyesight. To get a jump on glaucoma
— the second leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide — you
need to know your general and familial risks and see Eye M.D.
(ophthalmologist) for regular exams. March 12 marks World Glaucoma
Day, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds the public
that knowing your risks can help save your sight.

“World Glaucoma Day challenges us to take action to reduce the
terrible impact of glaucoma,” said H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD,
executive vice president of the Academy. “Fifty to 75 percent of
Americans with glaucoma are unaware that they have the disease. Once
vision is lost to glaucoma it cannot be restored, but when we detect
and treat it early we can often preserve vision so people can
maintain active lives.”

World Glaucoma Day, a joint initiative of the World Glaucoma
Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association, was launched
in 2008 to respond to the worldwide increase in glaucoma. By the year
2020, an estimated 80 million people worldwide will have glaucoma,
and 11 million of them will be blind in both eyes.

Among Americans, higher risk groups include people of African or
Hispanic heritage. Elderly African Americans are five times more
likely to develop glaucoma and 14 to 17 times more likely to become
blind than those of European ancestry. The risk for Hispanic
Americans rises significantly after age 60. Anyone with a family
history of the illness is four to nine times more susceptible. Other
glaucoma risk factors include being over 60, nearsightedness,
previous eye injuries, steroid use, and a history of cardiovascular
disorders, diabetes, or migraine headache.

The Academy’s EyeSmart campaign recommends that adults with no
symptoms or risk factors have a baseline screening at age 40 when
age-related eye diseases and vision changes may begin. Those with
risk factors for glaucoma or other eye diseases, including familial
history, should see their ophthalmologist to determine how often to
have exams.

EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the
American Academy of Ophthalmology, offers a Glaucoma EyeCare Program
to promote early detection and treatment. The program provides
educational materials and facilitates access to free eye exams for
qualified, uninsured patients. People may call the toll-free help
line at 1-800-391-EYES (3937) for themselves and/or family members.
Help lines are open 24 hours a day, every day, year-round. More
information on EyeCare America can be found at

About Glaucoma

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, the part of the eye that carries
images to the brain. As glaucoma worsens, cells die in the retina — a
special, light-sensitive area of the eye — reducing the optic nerve’s
ability to relay visual information to the brain. In the most common
form of the disease, primary open-angle glaucoma, the first symptom
is often narrowing of the visual field followed by the development of
blank spots. Symptoms of the less common but more acutely dangerous
form of the disease, closed-angle glaucoma, include blurred vision,
severe eye pain and headache, rainbow-colored halos around lights,
and nausea and vomiting. A person experiencing these symptoms needs
to be treated by an Eye M.D. right away.

More information on glaucoma and how to preserve vision, as well as
how to access care, is available on the Academy-sponsored web site
geteyesmart. Additional information about World Glaucoma Day
is available at wgday.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest
association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more
than 27,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the
three “O’s” — opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is
the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases
and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your
area, visit the Academy’s Web site at aao.

Surgeon General Meets with Optometry on Impact of InfantSEE(TM)

A delegation from the American
Optometric Association met last Friday with U.S. Surgeon General Richard H.
Carmona, M.D., M.P.H, America’s chief health educator, to provide a detailed
briefing on InfantSEE(TM), a new public health program aimed at the earliest
possible diagnosis of a potential eye and vision problems in children through
a no-cost assessment by an optometrist, and an update on the impact of the
initiative since its nationwide launch two weeks ago. The InfantSEE(TM)
program involves the voluntary efforts and donated expertise of thousands of
participating Doctors of Optometry in all 50 states. President Jimmy Carter is
the Honorary Chairman of InfantSEE(TM) and is serving as the national

“I commend the American Optometric Association for their efforts to
improve the health and well being of all Americans, and I look forward to
partnering with AOA to advance the 2005 agenda of the Office of the Surgeon
General: ‘The Year of the Healthy Child,'” said Dr. Carmona. “I particularly
want to thank the nearly 7,000 optometrists nationwide who are participating
in InfantSEE(TM).for all they are doing to provide much-needed eye care
services to America’s children.”

“President Bush and Dr. Carmona have demonstrated consistent leadership on
children’s health concerns. Optometry is proud to be working closely with this
administration, at the highest levels, to ensure that no child will be plagued
by a preventable eye or vision problem,” said Peter Kehoe, O.D. “Friday’s
meeting in the Surgeon General’s office makes it clear that optometrists,
through the InfantSEE(TM) initiative and the primary eye care we’re delivering
in communities across America, are committed to ensuring that 2005 and every
year to follow will be the year of the healthy child.”

Although infants cannot respond verbally, the first year of life is an
ideal time to conduct an extensive eye assessment. Not only is this a critical
time for eye and vision development, but generally children at this age do not
yet fear doctor visits and find the assessment painless and often enjoyable.

Typically, infants sit on their parent’s lap during the assessment, in
which the optometrist uses lights and other hand held objects to check that
their eyes are working together and that there are no significant refractive
issues that will impede proper vision development. The optometrist may also
use drops or a spray to dilate the baby’s pupils to ensure the health of the

As part of the national launch, former President Carter, who serves as
honorary national chair and spokesman for InfantSEE(TM), issued a call-to-
action through a public service announcement (PSA), which will educate parents
about InfantSEE(TM) and urge them to take advantage of the program. The PSA
cites his personal experience regarding his grandchildren’s eye problems.

granddaughter was diagnosed and treated as a toddler for amblyopia, often
referred to as lazy eye, a leading cause of vision loss in people younger than
45, which will affect one in 30 children. His grandson’s amblyopia was not
identified until grade school and may never be fully corrected.

To learn more about InfantSEE(TM), call toll-free (888) 396-EYES (3937) or
visit infantsee.

About the American Optometric Association

American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified,
trained doctors, on the frontline of eye health and vision care, who examine,
diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to
providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in an
individual’s overall health and well being by detecting systemic diseases.
Doctors of optometry have the skills and training to provide more than two-
thirds of all primary eye care in the United States. The American Optometric
Association represents more than 34,000 doctors of optometry, optometry
students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians in nearly 6,500
communities across the country. For more information, visit

American Optometric Association

Bausch + Lomb Releases Single-Use Vitreoretinal Asymmetric Peeling Forceps

Bausch + Lomb Storz® Ophthalmic Instruments announces the U.S. release of a new, single-use, asymmetric peeling forceps for vitreoretinal surgery. The forceps are available in 23- and 25-gauge options for facilities seeking the safety, consistency and convenience a single-use instrument offers.

The peeling forceps feature an asymmetric jaw design for excellent visualization of retinal membranes with a sleek, ergonomic handle consistent with the popular Storz Ophthalmics reusable design. The forceps can be used for ILM, epiretinal membrane peel, macular puckers and cellophane maculopathy. The balanced, single-use design provides optimal feel and control for customers concerned about the fragile nature of reusable retinal instrument options.

Source: Bausch + Lomb

Get Great Shades Without Losing Your Shirt

Overexposure to the sun can wreak havoc on your eyes. Sun damage can cause severe conditions such as photokeratitis (sunburn to the cornea), pterygium (tissue growth on the whites of eyes that can block vision), skin cancer on the eyelids, and has been implicated in the development of cataracts and possibly macular degeneration as well.

What you may not know is that even the best designer sunglasses may be doing more to improve your reputation than to protect your eyes from sun damage.

The three most common myths about sunglasses are:

— Darker sunglasses provide better protection against the sun.

— Expensive designer sunglasses are of a better quality than generic sunglasses.

— Sunglasses only need to be worn in the summer.

“Although not every situation or every person requires sunglasses, there are many situations where the use of sunglasses will enhance comfort and may provide eye health benefits as well,” says Dr. Donald J. D’Amico, chair of ophthalmology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Stephen Trokel, attending ophthalmologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, adds, “There are strong indications that chronic exposure to the components of sunlight may accelerate aging of ocular tissues. Any protective eyewear should have side shield protection or wrap around the eye so light cannot enter the eye from side reflections.”

Drs. D’Amico and Trokel offer the following advice to help you choose the best sun protection for your eyes during the summer and all year round:

— Check out the label. When you buy your next pair of sunglasses, look for the label that states the glasses provide over 95 percent UV protection. That is the only label that counts.

— Color coordinate. Choose a lens tint that blocks 80 percent of transmissible light, but no more than 90 percent to 92 percent of light; neutral gray, amber, brown or green are good colors to choose from.

— Make a healthy fashion statement. Choose sunglasses that wrap all the way around the temples, and/or wear a hat with a three-inch brim that can block the sunlight from overhead.

— Personalize your style. People with light-colored eyes, such as blue and green, are often more sensitive to bright sunlight than people with brown or dark brown eyes.

— Wear shades over your contact lenses. People who wear contact lenses that offer UV protection should still wear sunglasses. Sunglasses are helpful from preventing the drying effect most contact lens wearers get from warm wind.

— Early protection is the best medicine. For the greatest protection, consider providing UV-protected sunglasses for your children, and remember that the eyes of very small infants should always be shaded from direct exposure to the sun.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is the nation’s largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,242 beds. The Hospital has nearly 2 million inpatient and outpatient visits in a year, including more than 230,000 visits to its emergency departments — more than any other area hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Pavilion and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the largest and most comprehensive health care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation’s leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Source: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

LensAR Laser System(TM) Receives FDA Clearance For Use In Cataract Surgery

LensAR, Inc., the leading developer of next generation laser technology for cataract surgery and presbyopia, announced that the company has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for use of the LensAR Laser System for anterior capsulotomy during cataract surgery.

The LensAR Laser System integrates propriety ocular measurement and 3D laser scanning technologies with an advanced tissue cutting laser. The clinical data from the APEC Hospital Mexico City showed the laser capsulotomies were significantly more precise than manual capsulorhexis in the intended vs. achieved diameter and in circularity.

“The capsulotomy is arguably the most critical and precise step in cataract surgery and the ability to improve its sizing, centration, and consistency through automation is an important and exciting advance,” stated Dr. David F. Chang, LensAR Medical Monitor, who has personally used the LensAR Laser System in Mexico.

Dr. Louis D. “Skip” Nichamin, Medical Advisory Board member, who also has had experience using the system directly, commented, “The application of femtosecond technology to cataract surgery is the most exciting development in ophthalmic surgery in decades. The increased precision of the LensAR technology can help in the improvement of surgical outcomes while assisting experienced and inexperienced surgeons achieve more consistent results.”

“This is a critical milestone for the company. Our first cleared indication of what we believe will be many to come in this exciting new field of laser cataract surgery,” said Randy Frey, founder and chief executive officer of LensAR.

About LensAR, Inc.

LensAR, Inc. is the leading developer of next generation laser technology for cataract surgery and presbyopia. The LensAR Laser System, which integrates an advanced ultra short pulse laser with propriety ocular measurement and laser scanning technologies, is being designed to allow physicians to perform several of the steps in cataract surgery (capsulotomy, lens fragmentation, precise astigmatic corrections and unique clear corneal incisions) in a single laser procedure. In addition to advancing its laser technology in the area of cataract surgery, the company is also developing the LensAR Laser System for the treatment of presbyopia.

The LensAR Laser System is cleared by the FDA for anterior capsulotomy. For other indications it is an investigational device limited by United States law to investigational use only.

Source: LensAR, Inc

American Academy Of Ophthalmology’s Medical Director Of Health Policy Tapped For Role With National Quality Forum

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy) is proud to announce the appointment of William L. Rich III, M.D., Medical Director of Health Policy, to the National Quality Forum’s (NQF) efficiency resource use project steering committee.

The NQF was established in May 1999 as a unique public-private collaborative venture. Their mission is to improve the quality of healthcare by standardizing the measurement of quality-related information and by promoting quality improvement.

The efficiency resource use project steering committee will provide guidance and lay the groundwork for future endorsement of measures of healthcare resource use that will be building blocks for measures of efficiency. This committee will also consider criteria for evaluating resource use measures and will consider current evidence and approaches for efficiency and resource use measures.

“The NQF is charged with a task that is critical to defining the future of quality patient care,” said Dr. Rich. “I am honored to serve with this distinguished panel of health policy leaders.”

Dr. Rich has served as the Medical Director of Health Policy with the American Academy of Ophthalmology since 2005 and has been involved in health policy, managed care and practice management for 25 years. Currently he serves as vice chair of the provider council of the National Quality Forum and representative to the Ambulatory Quality Alliance. From 2003 to 2009 he served as the chair of the American Medical Association’s Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RUC) Committee that determines the work values for all physician services, and also chaired the Resource Subcommittee that investigated new ethnographic and quantitative approaches to physician work. He has also participated on several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science panels concerning the “Future of Fee for Service Medicare,” “Economic Incentives for Promoting Quality” and “Health Outcomes Measures as a Determinant of Patient Choice.”

He has served on the Academy’s Committee of Secretaries as the Secretary for Federal Affairs and has played an active role in numerous other Academy activities since the 1970s. Dr. Rich is a founder and was an executive committee member of the nation’s largest national subspecialty Preferred Provider Organization and of a local Independent Physicians Association.

Dr. Rich is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Georgetown University and received his medical degree from Georgetown in 1972. He completed a rotating internship at San Francisco General Hospital and completed a residency in ophthalmology at Georgetown, where he now serves on the clinical faculty. He practices currently as the senior partner with Northern Virginia Ophthalmology Associates.


American Academy of Ophthalmology

A New 10-Year Vision For Glaucoma

World experts map new directions for future research and management of the world’s second leading cause of blindness

A 10-year outlook for innovative and forward-looking glaucoma management, and the future of research into the condition: key topics put under the spotlight in a new supplement to International Glaucoma Review (IGR).

About the Supplement:
Published this week (30 September), expert findings from a global summit of over 50 leading glaucoma specialists brought together by Pfizer Ophthalmics, a recognized leader in advancing the science of glaucoma.

This is the second meeting of its kind, sponsored by Pfizer Ophthalmics, to discuss key needs and opportunities in advancing therapies for patients.

Expert Point of View:

“There is a need to advance the science of glaucoma beyond the traditional approach of utilizing intraocular pressure (IOP) lowering therapies, by establishing new, definitive surrogate markers for progression and addressing the potential benefits of novel approaches, while identifying next steps for achieving more targeted drug delivery in glaucoma treatment,” said Dr. Robert N. Weinreb, President of the American Glaucoma Society, Past President of the World Glaucoma Association and Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego, USA, who co-chaired the summit and served as Editor for the new supplement. “The summit allowed the world’s most forward-thinking glaucoma minds an opportunity to discuss crucial issues for glaucoma management.”

Key Highlights:

Topics discussed at the summit included:
The potential of innovative future drug delivery systems to improve both convenience and adherence to therapy, an ongoing problem in glaucoma management.

Establishing new surrogates for disease progression and novel glaucoma endpoints beyond functional vision loss; fundamentally important considerations in advancing the science in the interests of patients.

How the development of new imaging and biological biomarkers in glaucoma may benefit patients by leading to more efficacious and individualized therapies.

The summit challenged participants to identify, explore and analyze the potential of emerging technologies for the treatment of glaucoma.


The Global Glaucoma Summit Meeting took place in Los Angeles, CA, in January 2008.

Source: Con Franklin

Resolute Communications