Newly-Published Peer-Reviewed Paper Shows Durasert Device Was Neuroprotectant In Retinitis Pigmentosa Model

pSivida Corp. (NASDAQ:PSDV) (ASX:PVA), a leader in the development of ophthalmic sustained release drug delivery products, today said that a recently-published peer reviewed scientific paper showed that a sustained release Durasert drug delivery device releasing the steroid fluocinolone acetonide (FA) in the back of the eye preserved retinal function in a retinitis pigmentosa model.

Dr. Paul Ashton, CEO of pSivida Corp., who co authored the paper with Inna V. Glymbia, Alexander Kennedy and Gary Abrams of Wayne State University, Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit and Raymond Iezzi of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, used pSivida’s Durasert technology to study the neuroprotective properties of low-dose sustained-release intravitreous FA as a means of reducing retinal neuroinflammation, preventing cell death and preserving retinal function. Retinitis pigmentosa is a hereditary condition that affects approximately 100,000 individuals in the US. There is presently no known cure or effective treatment for the condition, which causes gradual loss of peripheral vision and night vision and eventually most individuals become legally blind.

“This is very encouraging,” said Dr. Ashton, “and we intend to pursue further studies using our technologies for the treatment of eye diseases for which there currently are very few effective treatments.” pSivida has developed two of the only three FDA approved ophthalmic sustained release drug delivery products, Retisert® for the treatment of posterior uveitis and Vitrasert® for the treatment of Aids-related CMV retinitis, both of which are licensed to Bausch & Lomb. The company’s third product, Iluvien® for the treatment of diabetic macular edema is licensed to Alimera Sciences which is conducting Phase III fully recruited trials and expects to submit a New Drug Application to the FDA in the second quarter of this year. If approved, Iluvien will be the first FDA approved drug for the treatment of DME.

The abstract is available online here.

pSivida Corp.

View drug information on Vitrasert Implant.

American Academy Of Ophthalmology To Offer Epocrates Products To Members

The American Academy of Ophthalmology announced it reached an agreement with Epocrates®, Inc., a leading developer of clinical information and decision support tools for healthcare professionals. Academy members will now have access to Epocrates’ online database of drug and disease information directly through the Academy’s Ophthalmic News and Education (O.N.E.™) Network. In addition, Academy members can purchase Epocrates’ mobile and online premium products with an exclusive discount. Members can review the discounts when they log in and then click the Epocrates link from the O.N.E Network Home Page.

“By providing our members with access to a robust and trusted database of information, this agreement will help improve the quality of patient care and increase physician productivity,” said H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, executive vice president of the Academy.

Members logging into the O.N.E. network can call on the Epocrates free drug and formulary reference with more than 3,300 drug monographs, including adult and pediatric dosing, contraindications and cautions, adverse reactions, manufacturer and cost information. Ophthalmologists can conveniently lookup drugs by ophthalmic class or subclasses, and also use the quick drug interaction checker with drugs prescribed for systemic disease to help ensure safer prescribing. Additionally, they can check drug coverage as well as generic alternatives and co-pay levels for national and local health insurance plans. The company’s clinical content is developed by physicians and pharmacists and is continuously updated to keep users informed and current.

For ophthalmologists seeking mobile clinical information, Academy members can take advantage of a discount on the company’s premium software products for mobile devices. The products, which are available on Palm, iPhone, Windows Mobile and Blackberry platforms, offers a range of decision support resources.

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.

American Academy of Ophthalmology

Mesoblast Limited Announce Pre-Clinical Trials Show Allogenic Stem Cells Effectively Treat Eye Diseases

Australia’s regenerative medicine company, Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB; USOTC: MBLTY), announced highly significant preclinical trial results of the adult stem cell technology platform for the treatment of eye diseases associated with abnormal blood vessels. These diseases include diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading causes of blindness in the western world.

The current standard-of-care therapy for AMD is repeated eye injections using an anti-VEGF agent. Two of these agents, marketed under the names Lucentis and Macugen, have been approved by global regulatory bodies and distributed by Genentech, Novartis, and Pfizer. These agents are injected into the eye every 4-6 weeks on an ongoing basis as maintenance therapy to prevent reversal in visual improvement.

The results of the trial in 42 non-human primates, conducted in conjunction with Mesobla! st’s New York-based sister company Angioblast Systems Inc., in! dicate t hat combining an anti-VEGF agent with the company’s proprietary stem cells may lead to improved vision and a reduction in the frequency of subsequent anti-VEGF injections into the eyes.

In the United States alone, there are about 1.5 million people suffering from the form of AMD associated with abnormal blood vessels, and over 200,000 new cases per year. An additional 500,000 diabetics suffer from macular oedema caused by abnormally leaky blood vessels, making these disease states a major market opportunity.

The results of the preclinical trial showed that a single intra-ocular injection of the Company’s proprietary allogeneic, or “off-the-shelf”, adult stem cells was as effective at reducing blood vessel leakage after laser-induced damage as Genentech’s Lucentis, the most effective FDA-approved anti-VEGF agent in use. The trial showed similar effectiveness with each of the three escalating cell doses used, without any significant cell-related adverse events.

More importantly, the trial showed that combining Lucentis with a single injection of the company’s stem cells resulted in a highly synergistic, and significantly superior, outcome to Lucentis alone in preventing development of severe blood vessel leakage, preventing disease recurrence, reducing formation of new blood vessels and preventing retinal detachment.

“These are extremely exciting results which raise the prospect that our cells may be able to improve vision in conditions associated with abnormal blood vessels in the eye, while at the same time enabling physicians to reduce the frequency or dosage requirements of intra-ocular injections of anti-VEGF agents such as Lucentis,” said Company founder and director, Professor Silviu Itescu.

The results of this primate study, together with earlier preclinical results, will form the basis of an Investigational New Drug (IND) submission to the FDA to commence a Phase 2 clinical tria! l of the Company’s allogeneic stem cells in combination with a! n anti-V EGF agent, with the objective to show improvement in vision, long-term disease remission, and reduction in frequency of intra-ocular anti-VEGF maintenance injections.

Angioblast intends to form a strategic partnership with a major global health care company in order to rapidly commercialise its stem cell product for the treatment of eye diseases caused by abnormal blood vessels, such as diabetic retinopathy and AMD.

About Mesoblast

Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB; USOTC:MBLTY) is committed to the rapid commercialisation of a unique adult stem cell technology aimed at the regeneration and repair of bone and cartilage. Our focus is to progress through clinical trials and international regulatory processes necessary to commercialise the technology in as short a timeframe as possible. Mesoblast has the worldwide exclusive rights for a series of patents and technologies developed over more than 10 years and which relate to the identification, extracti! on and culture of adult Mesenchymal Precursor Cells (MPCs). The Company has also acquired 39% of Angioblast Systems Inc., an American company developing the platform MPC technology for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases including repair and regeneration of blood vessels and heart muscle. Mesoblast and Angioblast are jointly funding and progressing the core technology. Mesoblast’s strategy is to maximise shareholder value through both corporate partnerships and the rapid and successful completion of clinical milestones.


A preclinical trial was performed by Angioblast Systems Inc. in 42 non-human primates, 36 of whom received laser photocoagulation to the back of the eye to induce choroidal neovascularization. The study objectives were to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a single intravitreal injection of the company’s proprietary allogeneic Mesenchymal Precursor Cells (MPC) alone and in combination with a single intravitreal inje! ction of the FDA-approved anti-VEGF agent Lucentis at 0.5mg. ! Fluoresc ein angiography was performed at days 15, 28, 35 and 42 to assess and grade the degree of vessel leakage following laser damage.

The trial results showed that each of the three escalating cell doses used were as effective as Lucentis in this model of blood vessel leakage after laser-induced damage, without any significant cell-related adverse events. However, the combination of Lucentis with a single injection of the company’s stem cells was significantly superior in outcome to Lucentis alone in preventing development of severe blood vessel leakage, preventing progression of mild to severe vessel leakage, preventing disease recurrence, and preventing retinal detachment.

In comparison to Lucentis alone, combining the drug with a single injection of allogeneic stem cells reduced the mean blood vessel leakage score by approximately 25% by the trial’s end at day 42 (p=0.03), figure 1. This was due to approximately a 50-90% reduction in the number of high-g! rade leaky vessels throughout the entire trial period and approximately a 29-42% increase in the number of low-grade leaky vessels, suggesting that the combination therapy prevented progression of low-grade to high-grade leaky vessels.

While Lucentis alone prevented the most severe (grade 4) vessel leakage compared with controls at day 15, after this timepoint disease recurrence was seen and sole Lucentis therapy was ineffective relative to controls beyond day 15, figure 2. In contrast, adding a single injection of allogeneic stem cells completely eliminated the most severe (grade 4) leakiness throughout the entire 42-day trial period, figure 2, indicating that the combination prevented disease recurrence.

Thirdly, adding a single injection of allogeneic stem cells to Lucentis significantly reduced the formation of abnormal new blood vessels. As shown in figure 3, the mean severity score for formation of a fibrovascular membrane was over two-fold hig! her in Lucentis treated eyes than in eyes treated with the com! bination of Lucentis and allogeneic MPC. (p=0.001).

Finally, in comparison to Lucentis alone the incidence of retinal detachment throughout the trial was reduced by approximately 85% when a single injection of the allogeneic stem cells was added. Whereas retinal detachment occurred in 37/72 (51%) laser-treated eyes without combination therapy, it was seen in only 1/12 (9%) eyes receiving the combination therapy (p

American Academy Of Ophthalmology Honors 18 Ophthalmologists With International Scholar Award

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy) congratulates the 18 ophthalmologists who have been honored with its International Scholar Award in 2010. The award was developed by the Academy to honor international members and their lifelong commitment to learning.

To qualify, awardees must be active International members in the Academy, been a past recipient of the Academy’s International Ophthalmologist Education Award, completed a timed, online self-assessment test, and earned 60 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits within two years of applying. Half (30) of the credits must be earned from Academy-sponsored CME activities.

“We would like to congratulate these 18 international members who exemplify the educational mission of the Academy,” said David W. Parke II, MD, executive vice president and CEO of the Academy. “We honor them for their on-going dedication to their profession and to providing superior patient care.”

The 2010 International Scholar Award recipients are:

– Alay S. Banker, MD (India)

– Amit Tarafdar, MD (India)

– Angela Maria Dolmetsch, MD (Colombia)

– Antonio Scoyni, MD (Italy)

– David Goldblum, MD (Switzerland)

– Ehab N. El Rayes, MD (Egypt)

– Fausto M. Lechuga-Ortiz MD (Mexico)

– Jeffrey Dean Chambers, MD (Canada)

– Manuel Moriche Carretero, MD (Spain)

– Martin H. Devoto, MD (Argentina)

– Miguel Paciuc, MD (Mexico)

– Miloslav B. Bozdech, MD (Canada)

– Prashant G. Bhatia, MBBS (United Arab Emirates)

– Rekha R Khandelwal, MBBS, FRCS (India)

– Romero P. Aroca, MD (Spain)

– Sanjoy Chowdhury, MBBS (India)

– Sofia N. Androudi , MD (Greece)

– Yousef I. Al-Megbel, MD (Saudi Arabia)


American Academy of Ophthalmology

News From The Journals Of The American Society For Microbiology

“Single-Shot” Vaccines May Protect Against H5N1 Influenza Virus

Two newly developed “single-shot” H5N1 influenza vaccines protected ferrets against lethal infection with the H5N1 influenza virus and may allow for mass vaccination in humans in the event of a pandemic outbreak. The researchers from Australia report their findings in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Virology.

As the highly infectious H5N1 influenza A virus continues to persist in bird populations and infect humans through poultry, concerns of a pandemic outbreak remain high. Although human-to-human transmission has remained limited, the fatality rate among those reported human cases is greater than 60%. The threat that the virus will mutate and achieve efficient human-to-human spread emphasizes the need for effective preventative therapies.

Vaccination is considered the optimal method for controlling an influenza pandemic. Vaccines must be rapidly available to reach mass populations and they must include the minimal antigen dose (substance that promotes the generation of antibodies) to result in full immunity. The use of adjuvants (substances to improve the immune response) in vaccine development may lower the antigen dose required and ultimately ease the demand on vaccine supply during a pandemic.

Clinical trials on prepandemic vaccines containing adjuvant suggested that two injections were necessary to induce protective immunity. In this study researchers first inoculated ferrets twice with two H5N1 influenza virus adjuvant vaccines (Iscomatrix and AIPO4) and observed for protective efficacy following a lethal challenge with the H5N1 virus. Results showed that ferrets were completely protected against death and disease for at least 15 months. More significantly, a secondary study found that both adjuvant vaccines also protected ferrets from death following only a single inoculation. Specifically, ferrets receiving a single shot of the Iscomatrix adjuvant vaccine displayed fewer signs of infection and remained highly active.

“Our data provide the first indication that in the event of a future influenza pandemic, effective mass vaccination may be achievable with a low-dose ‘single shot’ vaccine and provide not only increased survival but also significant reduction in disease severity,” say the researchers.

(D. Middleton, S. Rockman, M. Pearse, I. Barr, S. Lowther, J. Klippel, D. Ryan, L. Brown. 2009. Evaluation of vaccines for H5N1 influenza virus in ferrets reveals the potential for protective single-shot immunization. Journal of Virology, 83. 15: 7770-7778.)

Infection-Causing Amoeba May be Resistant to Multiple Contact Lens Solutions

A new study suggests that some contact lens solutions do not properly disinfect against Acanthamoeba, a free-living organism in the environment that can cause a painful vision-threatening infection. The researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Service, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, Georgia, report their findings in the July 2009 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Acanthamoeba are found in a variety of environmental sources including soil, freshwater, brackish water and seawater, as well as hot tubs and Jacuzzis. The species is associated with many different human diseases such as central nervous system infections and Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK), an infection of the cornea that can ultimately lead to blindness. 85% of AK cases in the United States are attributed to contact lens wear, with some specific risk factors being improper contact lens care and contact with nonsterile water during wear.

Insufficient anti-Acanthamoeba activity in Advanced Medical Optics Complete MoisturePlus multipurpose contact lens solution was brought to attention following a recent multistate outbreak of AK. While investigating that outbreak, researchers also compared the effectiveness of 11 other contact lens solutions against cysts of Acanthamoeba castellanii, Acanthamoeba polyphaga, and Acanthamoeba hatchetti, all of which were sample specimens collected during the outbreak. Results indicated that only the two contact lens solutions containing hydrogen peroxide showed any disinfection ability against A. castellanii and A. polyphaga after 6 or 24 hours. No significant disinfection efficacy was noted among the 11 solutions against A. hatchetti.

“The prevention of future cases of AK will require contact lens solutions that are effective against Acanthamoeba species and continued emphasis on proper lens care hygiene,” say the researchers. “Educating contact lens wearers about the risk factors for AK, including the improper use of contact lens solutions, is important; but a systematic method for evaluating contact lens solutions will reduce the chance that inefficacious solutions are available.”

(S.P. Johnston, R. Sriram, Y. Ovarnstrom, S. Roy, J. Verani, J. Yoder, S. Lorick, J. Roberts, M.J. Beach, G. Visvesvara. 2009. Resistance of Acanthamoeba cysts to disinfection in multiple contact lens solutions. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 47. 7: 2040-2045.)

New DNA Vaccine Inhibits Deadly Skin Cancer in Mice

A new DNA vaccine inhibited malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, in mice by eliciting antibodies that target a gastrin-releasing peptide which is known to play a key role in cancer development. The researchers from China and the U.S. report their findings in the July 2009 issue of the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.

Gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) is an important human peptide that regulates gastric acid secretion and motor function as well as elicits gastrin release. Previous research has shown that GRP plays a significant role in human cancers through atypical expression of the GRP receptor and GRP binding that activates cellular signaling and results in increased cell production and tumor formation. Anti-GRP antibodies have displayed promising antitumoral activity and DNA vaccines targeting GRP are a hopeful therapeutic approach.

In the study researchers developed a novel anti-GRP DNA vaccine including various immunoadjuvants (substances to improve the immune response) and monitored anti-GRP antibody levels in vaccinated mice. Intramuscular injections induced high levels of specific antibodies against GRP as well as suppressed the growth of melanoma cells. Additionally, researchers intravenously injected cells in the lungs and found that cells were highly diminished indicating that the vaccine may also inhibit cancer from spreading.

“In conclusion, we have demonstrated for the first time that immune responses which are elicited by a novel anti-GRP DNA vaccine suppress the proliferation and growth of melanoma tumors in mice,” say the researchers. “The antiangiogenesis and antimetastastic activities of this DNA vaccine suggest a novel approach against various cancers, especially malignant melanoma.”

(J. Fang, Y. Lu, K. Ouyang, G. Wu, H. Zhang, Y. Liu, Y. Chen, M. Lin, H. Wang, L. Jin, R. Cao, R.S. Roque, L. Zong, J. Liu, T. Li. 2009. Specific antibodies elicited by a novel DNA vaccine targeting gastrin-releasing peptide inhibit murine melanoma growth in vitro. Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, 16. 7: 1033-1039.)

Carrie Slijepcevic

American Society for Microbiology

Gene Involved In Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy Is Found

A 13-member research team led by University of Oregon scientist Dr. Albert O. Edwards has found a gene likely responsible for Fuchs corneal dystrophy, an inheritable genetic disorder and leading cause of corneal transplant operations.

Edwards performed a genome-wide analysis comparing patients with and without typical age-related Fuchs, finding an alteration in the transcription-factor-4 gene (TCF4). Fuchs — pronounced FEWKS or FOOKS — generally emerges in middle-aged, roughly age 40, and older people.

The discovery appears online Wednesday, Aug. 25, ahead of regular publication in the Sept. 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Fuchs emerges slowly with blurred or cloudy vision, tiny bumps known as guttae (GOO-tay) on the cornea’s surface and, in severe stages, painful blisters on the corneal surface. The disease affects the endothelium, a thin layer of cells that line the back part of the cornea where changes result in swelling of the cornea and thickening and clouding of the cornea. Guttae are found in the corneas of an estimated 5 percent of people in the United States.

Of those diagnosed with Fuchs, only a small percentage go on to require corneal transplants, said lead author Dr. Keith H. Baratz of the Mayo Clinic ophthalmology department in Rochester, Minn. There are about 40,000 corneal transplants — about 10,000 linked to Fuchs — performed annually in the United States, according to the Eye Bank Association of America. It is more common in women than in men, according to the Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy Association.

The discovery won’t immediately translate into clinical benefits, but “this is the first step in identifying the pathophysiology of the disease,” Baratz said. “Right now, we don’t have a treatment for Fuchs dystrophy other than transplant surgery when a patient is at the end stages of the disease. The ultimate goal is to find out how the disease occurs and find a treatment to prevent or slow its progression.”

Having the TCF4 gene variation has a huge impact on the risk of Fuchs disease, said Edwards, a senior research associate in the University of Oregon’s Institute of Molecular Biology. “It vastly exceeds the risk found previously for the complement-factor-H gene in macular degeneration,” he said. “If a person has risk variants involving TCF4, that individual is anywhere from several to a couple of hundred times more likely to have Fuchs disease.”

Edwards, in 2005, when at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, was lead author of a study published in the journal Science that identified complement factor H in macular degeneration. That gene discovery tied complement factor H to a five-fold increase of risk to developing macular degeneration, accounting possibly for at least 50 percent of the risk of being affected. The risk impact of TCF4 on Fuchs is much stronger, Edwards said.

While the TCF4 gene has been identified, exactly what occurs to cause a defect is not understood. The researchers found evidence that at least one transcription protein, E2-2, needs more scrutiny. “E2-2 is a transcription factor. It controls gene expression,” Edwards said. “The pathway probably contains E2-2 and the protein ZEB1, but we don’t really know that yet. We do find variation of expression across this region, so it has something to do with the expression of the gene.”

E2-2, important in cellular growth and differentiation, has been implicated in other disease states, including activity that promotes or suppresses cancer. It is expressed in the corneal endothelium. ZEB1, which may be regulated by E2-2, already is thought to contribute to Fuchs.

The study involved the genotyping of 280 Fuchs patients recruited in clinical settings in Minnesota and Michigan. These patients had at least Stage 1 signs of Fuchs or had received corneal replacements as a result of the disease. Their genomes were compared with 410 control patients.

“The real impact of what we’ve done is to determine the biological underpinnings of the disease,” Edwards said. “We’ve identified a protein that is probably involved, and that will allow us to, hopefully, identify a method to prevent people from losing their vision.”

Three other genes previously had been linked to very rare subtypes of Fuchs. In addition, early onset Fuchs has been linked to mutations in yet another gene, COL8A2, but Edwards and colleagues suggest in their paper that this may be a different disease with a different cause.

“This discovery demonstrates the value of excellent clinical phenotyping and a large-scale genetic database of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to uncover genetic risk factors for many vision-related disorders,” said co-author Anand Swaroop, chief of the National Eye Institute (NEI) Neurobiology-Neurodegeneration and Repair Laboratory. “The genetic data used in this study was obtained for GWAS of age-related macular degeneration through a scientific collaboration supported by the NEI.”

Co-authors with Edwards, Baratz and Swaroop were: William L. Brown, Katharina E. Schmid-Kubista, Nirubol Tosakulwong, Euijung Ryu and Kent R. Bailey, all of Mayo Clinic; Kari Branham, John R. Heckenlively, Wei Chen and Goncalo Abecasis, all of the University of Michigan; and Khoa D. Tran of the UO Institute of Molecular Biology and Oregon Retina of Eugene.
The National Institutes of Health primarily funded the research. The Foundation Fighting Blindness and the American Health Assistance Foundation, both based in Maryland, and Research to Prevent Blindness and the Max Kade Foundation, both in New York, also provided support.

Source: University of Oregon

Strengthening Lazy Eye

New research from a nationwide (USA) clinical trial shows that many children age 7-17 with lazy eye (amblyopia) may
benefit from treatments more commonly used on younger children.

Treatment improved the vision of many of the 507 older children with amblyopia studied at 49 centers, including the UAB
School of Optometry.

Previously, most eye care professionals thought that treating amblyopia in older children would be of little benefit.

“This study shows how important it is to screen children of all ages for amblyopia,” said Katherine Weise, O.D., associate
professor of optometry. “This study also shows that age alone should not be used as a factor to decide whether to treat a
child who has this condition.”

University of Alabama at Birmingham
701 20th St. S., AB 1320
Birmingham, AL 35294-0113
United States
Phone 205-934-3884
Fax 205-975-9458

Optelec Offers New Solutions For The Visually Impaired And Low Vision User

Optelec US Inc., a
world leader in innovative and life-changing assistive technologies
for the visually impaired and blind, is revealing the FarView(TM),
ClearView+ G2(TM) and ClearNote Portable(TM), which are three
revolutionary electronic solutions that bring life back into focus
for those living with low vision. All three products are currently on
display, booth #323, at the 24th Annual International Technology and
Persons with Disabilities conference, sponsored by California State
University Northridge’s (CSUN) Center on Disabilities, March 18 – 21,
2009, Los Angeles Airport Marriott.

The Optelec low vision solutions continue to improve the quality of
life for every user, from the student unable to see the whiteboard to
the business executive who struggles to view the color contrast on an
important document. Below are two life stories of how Optelec’s
technology is changing lives:

— Ali Reshamwalla, a 72 year old with only 5 percent of his eye sight
remaining after a tragic car accident, is an active member of the Southern
California community through his Saddleback Memorial Hospital volunteer
work and training at the Braille Institute and Irvine Valley College.
Optelec keeps him involved as he enjoys reading and taking classes daily.

— Amy Bower developed macular degeneration at an early age of 24. Now 41
years old, she uses Optelec at work as a research scientist in physical

“Our goal at the CSUN Center on Disabilities conference is to
demonstrate that through Optelec’s new innovative technologies and
education awareness, visual disabilities do not need to prevent
someone from living an independent and active lifestyle,” stated
Takashi Yamashita, chief executive officer of Optelec US Inc.

Below is a glimpse at the electronic low vision products available
for demonstration at the conference.

Optelec FarView – A powerful and portable magnification solution
designed for the active lifestyle that redefines how low vision users
are able to access, store, review, and share information in an ultra
compact and stylish design. For real-time distance or close-up
viewing, use the FarView on the go. The innovative capabilities of
the built-in auto focus camera, zoom-in functionality, scrolling and
auto-return allow the user to bring the environment within the scope
of vision or preferred retinal locus (PRL) for best visual acuity.
MSRP: $1,495.

Optelec ClearView+ G2 – A desktop electronic video
magnifier (CCTV) that sets a new standard for low vision desktop
reading machines and allows the user to read and write with magnified
and illuminated viewing assistance. The ClearView+ G2’s
five-directional Ultra Flexible TFT Arm with 90 degree rotating
screen and pull flexibility make it easy to maneuver for the low
vision user. In addition, an HD image quality provides four times the
resolution and the Reon HQV image processing technology achieves
smooth de-interlaced images to increase the user’s reading time and
pleasure by eliminating image fading and eye fatigue. Zero-button
functionality, ergonomic and module design allow for easy integration
into any home, school or office environment for multi-functional
uses. MSRP: Range $2,095 – $3,695.

Optelec ClearNote Portable – A small and lightweight portable USB
video magnifier that combines distance, document or self-viewing
modes. This unit is convenient for on-the-go students and working
professionals with low vision. Simply connect the ClearNote Portable
to any desktop or laptop computer via the USB port and activate the
Always-In-Focus(TM) technology and ultra-flexible camera head to
ensure crisp clear contrasts on every image. MSRP: $2,495.

Pricing & Availability

All Optelec products and accessories are available through Optelec’s
dealer and distribution networks. Call +1 (800) 335-7970 or visit
optelec for more information.

About Optelec US Inc.

Optelec was founded in 1985 and is recognized as the worldwide market
leader in providing innovative solutions for the blind, visually
impaired and learning disabled. In January 2007, Tieman U.S., Holding
Company to Optelec US Inc., spun off ShopLowVision
(ShopLowVision) and LowVision (LowVision) as
sister companies, providing the one-stop-shop for optical,
non-optical and daily living aids, products, solutions and education
for eye care professionals and consumers. Visit optelec for
more information.

Optelec US Inc.

WesternU: Children’s Eye Health Is Paramount

The National Institutes
of Health’s announcement that a more effective treatment has been
found for a common childhood eye muscle coordination problem
underscores the importance of continued research of eye-related
conditions and the need to fully address children’s eye-care needs,
Western University of Health Sciences officials said.

“This latest research now gives us an evidence-based approach to help
children who have been affected by vision problems that could impact
their academic performance,” said Dr. Elizabeth Hoppe, founding dean
of WesternU’s College of Optometry. “WesternU will incorporate the
cutting-edge research into its curriculum and patient care services.”

Nearly 7% of U.S. children under the age of 18 have a diagnosed eye
or vision condition. Excluding conjunctivitis — commonly called
pinkeye — the four most common conditions are refractive disorders,
potentially blinding disorders, trauma or injury.

A recent survey of nearly 4,000 Americans by VSP Vision Care also
revealed that 76% of children under the age of 5 never have received a
comprehensive eye exam.

NIH’s announcement addressed treatment for convergence insufficiency,
commonly known as CI. For words on a page to appear in focus, a
child’s eyes must turn inward, or converge. In CI, the eyes do not
converge easily, and additional muscular effort must be used.

Most eye-care professionals treat children diagnosed with CI with
some form of home-based therapy, but a new study concludes that
office-based treatment by a trained therapist, along with at-home
reinforcement, is more effective. The study was funded by the
National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The 12-week study found that about 75 percent of those who received
in-office therapy plus at-home treatment reported fewer and less
severe symptoms related to reading and other near work. Symptoms of CI
include loss of place, loss of concentration, reading slowly,
eyestrain, headaches, blurry vision, and double vision.

After 12 weeks of treatment, nearly 75 percent of children who were
given the office-based vision therapy along with at-home reinforcement
achieved normal vision or had significantly fewer symptoms of CI. Only
43 percent of patients who completed home-based therapy alone showed
similar results.

“The results underscore the value of participating in clinical
treatment under care in the optometrist’s office,” Dr. Hoppe said.

The University in 2010 will help host the 6th International Congress
of Behavioral Optomtery, which will be held April 6-11, 2010, in
Pomona and Ontario, Calif. The Congress will include the 19th annual
Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) International
Multi-Disciplinary Conference.

WesternU’s Patient Care Center also will begin offering office-based
vision therapy in early 2010.

Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona,
Calif., is an independent nonprofit health professions university,
conferring degrees in health sciences, nursing, osteopathic medicine,
pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies and veterinary
medicine. In 2009, the university will admit students to new degree
programs in dentistry, optometry, podiatry and biomedical sciences.

Jeff Keating
Western University of Health Sciences

Laser-based approach to producing bubbles, which may be used for future tests to study properties of eye materials, and eventually treat eye condition

By bouncing sound waves off tiny bubbles generated inside eye tissue, a biomedical engineer at The University of Texas at Austin is developing a new tool that could improve the outcome of laser eye surgery and address common eye conditions.

Stanislav Emelianov and colleagues in the Department of Biomedical Engineering will use the microbubbles generated by a pulsed laser to determine the stiffness and other biomechanical properties of eye components, such as the outer eye layer called the cornea. These bubbles will be created at pinpoint locations within eye tissue, using a femtosecond pulsed laser that initially modifies the cornea during LASIK surgery to improve vision.

The researchers will also use the five-year, $1.6 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to study whether pulsed laser microbubbles can effectively provide a new laser treatment for presbyopia. This difficulty in focusing on close objects develops in everyone during middle age.

In addition, these microbubbles could provide the first tool for evaluating the biomechanical properties of vitreous humor — the fluid in the main eye chamber. Because changes in this fluid often occur in advance of diseases that affect the retina or other internal eye structures, assessing the properties of vitreous humor using microbubbles could reveal how these diseases develop.

“Many eye surgeons routinely use lasers to treat different conditions,” said Emelianov, “so it would be easy for them to adapt to using a laser to probe the properties of eye structures, which would lead to more informed decisions before performing surgeries.”

Americans undergo about 1.5 million LASIK surgeries each year, with thousands developing complications or less-than-perfect vision. The surgery involves using a laser or sharp blade to turn the outer portion of the cornea into a circular flap of tissue with an untouched ‘hinge,’ and vaporizing some cornea tissue underneath that flap with an excimer laser treatment.

When the flap is readjusted over the treated area, the change in overall shape of the cornea improves vision. However, cornea tissue can restructure itself after LASIK surgery, detracting from the desired outcome.

Emelianov compared a LASIK-treated cornea to a table where the tissue removed from within the cornea represents one of the supportive legs.

“If you remove one table leg, the remaining legs will bend to absorb more weight or stress,” said the assistant professor of biomedical engineering. “The same stress redistribution occurs inside the cornea after LASIK surgery. Sometimes, residual stresses are too much, and new tissue will grow within the cornea, or the existing tissue will readjust, affecting the final cornea shape.”

Using microbubbles to probe the stiffness of cornea tissue before LASIK would allow eye surgeons to better understand how much tissue to safely remove to achieve optimal results.

To further advance the pulsed laser technology, Emelianov will draw on the expertise of ophthalmologist H. Grady Rylander and optical scientist Thomas Milner (the William J. Murray Jr. Fellow in Engineering No. 3, and the Charles M. Rowe Fellow in Engineering, respectively). With Milner, for instance, Emelianov is developing new ultrasound transducers and optical probes that will detect the vibrations of microbubbles created at certain points in the cornea. How easily a bubble vibrates after it is generated within cornea tissue indicates how stiff, or elastic, the tissue is.

A different elasticity test will be performed when eye tissue that is softer than the cornea needs to be probed. This will involve ‘poking’ the side of a microbubble with a wave of sound generated by an ultrasound device. For instance, the rounded, flexible lens of the eye that sits behind the cornea could be probed this way. The ability to displace a bubble within the crystalline lens material would reveal how stiff the material is.

The same microbubbles that probe the properties of the lens could be converted into a form of laser treatment for conditions such as presbyopia. People may lose the ability to see close objects because the lens in the eye that changes shape to help focus light becomes less flexible with age. Alternatively, the muscles surrounding the lens, which are responsible for changing its shape, can weaken over time.

Regardless of the cause, treating the outer rim of the lens with a series of pulsed-laser microbubbles could make the lens more flexible and easier for lens muscles to reshape.

For both tests, Emelianov, and theoretical acoustics experts Yurii Ilinskii and Evgenia Zabolotskaya from the Applied Research Laboratories, will develop algorithms and computer models to predict microbubble behavior. Emelianov and collaborators will initially test their predictions in a jello-like material that has similar properties to eye tissue, in animal eyes obtained from slaughter houses and in human eyes donated for research purposes.

“In many types of eye surgery, it would be helpful to measure the biomechanical properties of the tissue being worked with,” said Emelianov. “Microbubbles produced by a femtosecond pulsed laser could provide a single tool for making those measurements.”

Source: Barbra Rodriguez

University of Texas at Austin