Consumer Warning: Halloween Eye Wear Accessory May Permanently Damage Eyes

With Halloween approaching, the
American Optometric Association (AOA) is warning consumers about the risks
of wearing decorative contact lenses without a prescription from an eye
doctor. These non-corrective lenses, which are designed only to change the
appearance of the eyes, are easily accessible to consumers and are
especially popular around Halloween.

Federal law requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate
decorative lenses as a medical device, similar to corrective lenses;
however, decorative lenses continue to be illegally marketed and
distributed directly to consumers through a variety of sources including
flea markets, the Internet, beauty salons and convenience stores.

According to the AOA, only a proper medical evaluation from an eye
doctor can determine whether or not patients are viable candidates to wear
contact lenses, if they are capable of wearing lenses without problems, and
that the lenses fit properly.

“Purchasing contact lenses without a prescription can result in serious
eye health and vision damage since consumers are not properly educated on
cleaning and disinfecting, nor in proper removal and application of the
contact lens,” said Paul Klein, O.D., chair of the AOA’s Contact Lens and
Cornea Section. “Without a prescription and wearing instructions from an
eye doctor, consumers who wear these contact lenses put themselves at risk
of serious bacterial infection, or even significant damage to the eye’s
ability to function, with the potential for irreversible sight loss.”

This warning comes at a time of heightened consumer interest in
changing one’s eye color. New results from the AOA’s American Eye-Q(R)
survey indicate that more than half of all Americans would consider
changing the color of their eyes with colored lenses.

Other risks associated with the use of decorative contact lenses
include conjunctivitis, swelling, allergic reaction and corneal abrasion
due to poor lens fit. Additional medical problems may result in a reduction
of visual acuity (sight), contrast sensitivity and other general eye and
vision impairments.

“Even though they carry no prescription, and may be worn for short
periods of time, decorative contact lenses carry the same risks as
corrective contact lenses,” said Dr. Klein. “Because of this, it’s
important for consumers utilizing these lenses to familiarize themselves
with the information available from an eye doctor, so as to reduce the risk
of infection.”

Recommendations for Decorative Contact Lens Wearers from the American
Optometric Association

1. See an optometrist for a proper fitting and prescription

2. Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses.

3. Carefully and regularly clean contact lenses, as directed by your
optometrist. Rub the contact lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly
before soaking lenses overnight in sufficient multi-purpose solution
to completely cover the lens.

4. Store lenses in the proper lens storage case and replace the case at a minimum of every three months. Clean the case after each use, and keep it open and dry between cleanings.

5. Use only products recommended by your optometrist to clean and
disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not
designed to disinfect lenses.

6. Only fresh solution should be used to clean and store contact lenses.
Never re-use old solution. Contact lens solution must be changed
according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, even if the lenses
are not used daily.

7. Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule
prescribed by your optometrist.

8. Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.

9. See your optometrist for your regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.

For more information about the risks of decorative contact lenses, or
to find additional resources pertaining to contact lens hygiene and
compliance, please visit aoa.

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):

The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000
doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and
technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across
the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors.
Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the
United States.

American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly
qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye 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 a patient’s overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases
such as diabetes and hypertension.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years
of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor’s degree. Required
undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers
a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry
school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study
concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their
formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing
education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more
information, visit aoa.

American Optometric Association

Lux Biosciences Initiates Phase 1 Study Of LX214, A Development Candidate For Dry Eye Syndrome

Lux Biosciences announced that it has begun treating patients in a Phase 1 study with its third product candidate, LX214, a proprietary topical ophthalmic solution containing the next-generation calcineurin inhibitor voclosporin. The company is developing LX214 as a potential treatment for keratoconjunctivitis sicca, commonly known as dry eye syndrome (DES), and other chronic inflammatory ocular surface diseases.

“We are pleased with the progress of our program for LX214, which we advanced from inception into the clinic in 18 months, in parallel with our LX211 and LX201 phase 3 development programs,” said Ulrich Grau, Lux Biosciences President and Chief Executive Officer.

He noted that LX214 is a unique product that, based on preclinical data, is differentiated from the benchmark therapy by

– much higher drug levels of a 4 fold more potent calcineurin inhibitor in target tissues in the eye,
– the lack of irritation, and
– 24-hour therapeutic drug levels in the eye providing a rationale for once-a-day dosing.

“These features suggest that LX214 may demonstrate advantages over other treatment approaches in the very large dry eye indication,” Dr. Grau commented.

LX214 is Lux’s proprietary formulation of the next-generation calcineurin inhibitor voclosporin, which is licensed for ophthalmic indications from Isotechnika Inc. (Edmonton, Canada). The product has been developed for topical ophthalmic use in collaboration with Professor Ashim Mitra at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Unlike other topical dry eye products and product candidates with a similar mechanism of action, LX214 is a crystal clear, aqueous, mixed micellar formulation. In addition to the unique features of the formulation, LX214 contains a high concentration of voclosporin and, based on preliminary testing, appears to be non-irritating. Lux has filed for a patent covering LX214 with a priority date in 2007. The primary objective of the phase 1 study is to evaluate the safety and tolerability of LX214 when applied topically to the eye of healthy volunteers and subjects with keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

About Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition that includes a variety of disorders resulting in loss or breakup of the natural tear film, which maintains lubrication on the surface of the eye. Without this tear film, vision is impaired, the ocular surface may be damaged and patients may suffer severe ocular discomfort. Though the exact causes of DES are unknown, there is evidence supporting the link between reduced tear production and chronic inflammation of the ocular surface and lacrimal gland. Symptoms associated with dry eye syndrome account for up to 40% of all ophthalmologist visits and affect about 10 million people in North America and Europe. Though there are a variety of medications that palliate the symptoms of DES, there is still no cure for this debilitating disease. Currently available medications for DES leave substantial room for more effective and better-tolerated products.

About Lux Biosciences

Lux Biosciences, Inc. is a privately held biotechnology company focused on ophthalmic diseases. The company has a staged product portfolio of potentially first-in-class therapies distinguished by their short-term path to commercialization and potential to generate high revenue growth. The portfolio includes:

– Two Phase 3 clinical-stage projects including: i) LUVENIQ™, the oral formulation of a next-generation calcineurin inhibitor (voclosporin) developed as steroid-sparing therapy for the treatment of sight-threatening non-infectious uveitis, and ii) LX201, a silicone matrix ocular (episcleral) implant that steadily releases therapeutic doses of cyclosporine A locally to the eye for the prevention of rejection in corneal transplant recipients. Both the LUMINATE pivotal clinical program for LUVENIQ™ for the treatment of uveitis, as well as the LUCIDA (Lux Corneal Transplant Implant Development and Advancement of Therapy) pivotal clinical program with LX201 for the prevention of corneal transplant rejection were initiated in early 2007 and include sites in North America, Europe and India. Enrollment in the LUMINATE program was completed in June 2008 and the data analysis is planned for Q1 2009.

– LX214 is Lux’s proprietary topical eye drop formulation that entered human clinical testing for dry eye syndrome in Q1 2009. Based on the next-generation calcineurin inhibitor voclosporin, LX214 is targeted towards other chronic inflammatory diseases of the eye, most notably dry eye syndrome, blepharitis and atopic keratoconjunctivitis.

– Several earlier stage projects based on proprietary product-enabling bio-erodible polymer technologies that facilitate targeted and sustained delivery of molecules to the eye.

For more information on Lux Biosciences, please visit the company’s website at luxbio.

Lux Biosciences

Scientists Eye Secrets Of Retinal Regeneration

Peering at microscopic changes within the retina, scientists in the Department of Ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, have discovered a key mechanism driving eye health and eye disease.

Reporting in the cover article of a recent edition of Cell, the team says they have discovered just how light sensing discs in the retina’s rod cells regenerate themselves.

The retina uses two cell types — rods and cones — to sense incoming light.

“Rod cells make up the majority of photoreceptors in the human eye, and disruptions in these discs’ ability to grow and capture light may be at the root of a host of disabling or blinding eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa,” explains senior author Dr. Ching-Hwa Sung, professor of cell biology in ophthalmology and professor of cell and developmental biology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

“Rod cells contain tiny organelles called the ‘outer segment,’ which contain about 1,000 flattened discs containing rhodopsin — a visual pigment that absorbs light,” Dr. Sung explains. “Each day, our eyes shed the top 10 percent of these discs, but until now, no one really knew how the retina generated new discs. We believe we have solved that riddle.”

According to the researchers, the rod cell’s outer segment is constantly pushing up and forming new discs in a bottom-up process as older discs get shed at the segment’s tip.

“There were theories as to how this might occur, but no hard evidence to back any of them up,” explains lead researcher Dr. Jen-Zen Chuang, assistant professor of cell biology in ophthalmology at Weill Cornell.

In the study, the researchers used a variety of state-of-the-art techniques, including a gene-based method called “retinal transfection,” to gain a more accurate picture of outer segment growth in rat retinas.

“Basically, retinal transfection means introducing different genes into the eye to switch particular cellular functions on or off,” Dr. Chuang explains.

After a variety of these and other types of experiments, the team discovered that the new light-sensing discs are formed by the fusion, at the base of the outer segment, of rhodopsin vesicles.

“This fusion makes a kind of preliminary disc, and then this disc matures and grows until it joins the hundreds of other discs on the rod cell’s outer segment,” Dr. Sung says. “All of this happens with the help of a regulating protein called the ‘Smad Anchor for Receptor Activation’ (SARA),” she adds. “It’s a central player in the disc-fusion process, allowing new growth to occur.”

Besides rewriting the ophthalmology textbooks on retinal growth, the discovery should greatly enhance research into eye disease, the experts say.

“There are currently more than 100 retinal eye diseases in human populations, and problems with rhodopsin trafficking or outer segment development are thought to play a role in many of these potentially blinding conditions,” Dr. Sung notes. “In fact, we got interested in this type of research because we knew that breakdowns in rhodopsin trafficking were crucial to a common eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa.”

Retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder affecting about 100,000 Americans, is caused by the gradual death of rods and cones, triggering a progressive loss of vision.

Until now, however, little was known about rod cell regeneration, especially when it came to replacing rhodopsin-bearing discs.

“Our discovery now lays the groundwork for people to study just how many of these retinal diseases occur,” Dr. Sung says. “That’s why it’s so important from a clinical point of view.”

Yu Zhao, M.S., also of Weill Cornell, is the third author on this study.

The study was funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Research to Prevent Blindness, The Irma T. Hirsch Trust, The Ruth and Milton Steinbach Fund, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College — Cornell University’s Medical School located in New York City — is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Weill Cornell, which is a principal academic affiliate of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, offers an innovative curriculum that integrates the teaching of basic and clinical sciences, problem-based learning, office-based preceptorships, and primary care and doctoring courses. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research in such areas as stem cells, genetics and gene therapy, geriatrics, neuroscience, structural biology, cardiovascular medicine, AIDS, obesity, cancer, psychiatry and public health — and continue to delve ever deeper into the molecular basis of disease in an effort to unlock the mysteries behind the human body and the malfunctions that result in serious medical disorders. The Medical College — in its commitment to global health and education — has a strong presence in such places as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Salzburg, and Turkey. With the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical School is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — from the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer to the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease, the first indication of bone marrow’s critical role in tumor growth, and, most recently, the world’s first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally-conscious brain-injured patient. For more information, visit

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
425 East 61st St., Fl. 7
New York, NY 10021
United States

Optical Illusions, Mirages That Don’t Deceive

The aim of this paper is to dispel the excessively widespread myth that optical illusions are errors of the visual system. In 1978, Stanley Coren and Joan Stern Girgus published one of the most significant works of scientific literature in the last few decades, entitled “Seeing is Deceiving: The Psychology of Visual Illusions”. It is difficult to digest that someone who is seriously dedicated to the study of vision affirms that vision deceives us. If this were true, we would not be able to trust what we read in the book, since we would read it using our vision. We can therefore deduce that this is nothing more than a strategy to get us to read it.

If we take a look at some optical illusions, we realise that this type of visual configuration can often be found in situations we meet every day. In fact, these visual configurations help us in our environment. This can be seen in the famous checkerboard proposed by EH Adelson in 1995 (Adelson, 2000), a well-known optical illusion (checkershadow illusion). The illusion can be seen in the picture on the left. You will probably have no difficulties in stating that square A is much darker than the centre square, labelled B. However, in the picture on the right, the colours of the two squares appear to be very similar. In fact, if we measure the illuminance using a photometer, we find that the two squares have exactly the same illuminance.

So why does square A look darker?

The visual system (VS) must determine the colours of objects we encounter. In the example of the checkerboard, the VS must identify the colours of the squares. If the VS relied only upon measuring the illuminance of the squares, we would perceive squares A and B as identical. However, this would not allow us to interpret the “real” situation of the checkerboard correctly, that is, that the centre square is white and the B square is black. Although with regard to physics square A and square B have the same illuminance, this is neither relevant nor useful with regard to perception, since the equal illuminance does not allow us to identify the different colours on the checkerboard.

The VS uses various “tricks” to compensate the effects of shadows, maintaining the continuity of the colours (perceptively, one does not stop seeing a certain colour when the surrounding light fades, even though, from the perspective of physics, the colour of a surface changes according to the light it receives). The VS is not a good measure of “physical data”, but this is not its purpose. The main role of the VS is to decipher the information in the image and thus perceive the nature of the objects seen.

From this perspective, perception must be understood as a procedure for processing the information in the surrounding environment rather than a reflex of basic physics. Perception, therefore, involves a series of operations to transform, analyse, synthesise and activate knowledge. Optical illusions generally use these operations, therefore it is unfair to say they “deceive” the system. On the contrary, we can assume that the VS, with its ability to perceive in a different way to what is shown by physical measurement, protects us rather than deceives us.

We aim to demonstrate that, in general, optical illusions do not deceive us in our everyday interaction with our surroundings but rather they give us more appropriate knowledge to direct our behaviour. In short, it seems that it is to our advantage, and even necessary, that we “suffer” some of these optical illusions.


The Universitat Aut?noma de Barcelona was founded in 1968. It is therefore a young university, but in its short history it has moved forward at a rapid pace. The UAB is recognised around the world for its quality and innovation in research, it promotes new business projects, directs and projects its productive activity towards its socio-economic surroundings, and disseminates its newly acquired knowledge. The University is therefore a breeding ground for quality researchers and a centre for the dissemination of knowledge and technologies.

Edifici I
Campus de Bellaterra

International Stem Cell Corporation Reports Positive Pre-Clinical Trial Results From Human Corneal Epithelial Cells

International Stem Cell Corporation (OTCBB:ISCO), the first company to perfect a method of creating human “parthenogenetic” stem cells from unfertilized eggs, has received positive early results from animal trials designed to improve photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), a form of corrective laser eye surgery that offers an improved alternative to LASIK.

PRK is generally thought to be safer and produce better long-term results than LASIK, but has not been used as frequently because of patient discomfort following surgery and a longer healing time. By combining ISCO’s human corneal cells with a proprietary surgical device developed by Paul H. Chen, M.D., who is conducting the trials, ISCO and Dr. Chen believe that cellular enhanced PRK can replace LASIK for many of the hundreds of thousands of patients who now use LASIK.

The first stage animal trials just completed demonstrated that ISCO’s corneal cells manufactured by ISCO’s subsidiary, Lifeline Cell Technology, encouraged corneal-defect healing in the animals. The trials are the first step toward gaining Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to test the efficacy of using ISCO’s cells to improve healing after corneal surgery, and could result in the first FDA approved use of human cells produced by ISCO.

Jeffrey Janus, President of ISCO and CEO of Lifeline, noted that “The cells used in these trials are derived from donated human tissue processed using proprietary techniques devised by ISCO’s subsidiary, Lifeline Cell Technology. However, ISCO’s parthenogenic stem cells can also produce human corneal cells. Corneal cells derived from ISCO’s parthenogenetic stem cells may provide a consistent and reliable source of corneal cells that could eliminate entirely the need for donated human tissues.”

This work is being done in collaboration with Dr. Chen, who has developed the cell transfer technology. Dr. Chen is an eye surgeon at North County Laser Eye Associates, and he is on staff at Scripps Memorial La Jolla and Scripps Encinitas Hospitals.

For more news and information on International Stem Cell Corporation please visit IRGnews/coi/ISCO where you can find the CEO’s video, a fact sheet on the company, investor presentations, and more.

International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO.OB)

Eye Training And Brain Mechanisms: UCI Receives $1.6 Million Study Grant

A UC Irvine cognitive scientist has been awarded more than $1.6 million over five years to study limitations in how people process visual information, and how training can improve performance when the task is dependent on visual analysis. The findings of the study would not only help individuals, such as pilots or air traffic controllers, who rely on practiced interaction with visual displays to do their jobs, but also those who suffer from disorders such as dyslexia or “lazy eye.”

Barbara Anne Dosher, dean of the School of Social Sciences, in collaboration with University of Southern California colleague Zhong-Lin Lu, will perform studies on individuals with normal vision using controlled visual displays and computational models. The goal is to better understand how the brain processes the visual world and how that processing can be changed with experience or training. The grant from the National Eye Institute is a competitive continuation of a previous multi-year grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health.

“Human vision is a complex and marvelous ability that requires the brain to seamlessly merge a number of complex computations and analyses,” Dosher said. “These analyses may be limited by a number of factors, including acuity and the ability to filter out competing inputs. By studying how visual training improves task performance in individuals with normal vision, this project can help us understand the fundamental principles of visual processes and how training can be used to improve performance for people with certain deficits and disorders.”

Many visual skills, such as letter and word recognition, develop over long periods of practice and training. Performance scores can improve dramatically with practice, and there is evidence that it is possible to modify how the brain computes the visual input it receives. The researchers will conduct experiments on college students with normal vision to determine the optimal training patterns for visual analysis and what makes training generalize to new situations. Specifically, they will look at whether easy tasks should be mixed in with difficult tasks when conducting training, whether specific training in cluttered displays is necessary, and whether and in what time intervals feedback should be given to the trainee to optimize future performance.

Dosher and Lu have been working in visual attention and perceptual learning for seven years. In a study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they showed that a new approach may be more efficient in training the eyes to filter out visual clutter and focus on a target.

About the University of California, Irvine:
The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.3 billion.


Farnaz Khadem

UCI maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media. To access, visit

Contact: Farnaz Khadem

University of California – Irvine

Combined Dietary Factors Impact AMD Risk; Study Finds Glaucoma Care Cost-Effective

Highlights of May’s Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy), include a new analysis of dietary factors and risks for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and a landmark study on glaucoma treatment cost-effectiveness as linked to vision improvement and quality of life.

First Study of Combined Dietary Factors Finds Reduced AMD Risks

A diet that includes key nutrients and low-glycemic index foods is likely to reduce risks for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to the first study to analyze these factors in combination. Chung-Jung Chiu, PhD, of the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, led this new analysis of Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) data. The study team included AREDS researchers and was funded in part by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Earlier studies – including AREDS and the Nutrition and Vision Project of the Nurses’ Health Study – had revealed the AMD-protective effects of several nutrients and of a low-glycemic index (GI) diet, but Chiu’s study is the first to associate specific food intake patterns with substantial AMD risk reductions.

Study participants whose diets included higher levels of protective nutrients and of low-GI foods were at lowest risk for early and advanced AMD. This eye disease affects the retina, the sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that transmits images to the brain; advanced AMD can destroy the detailed, central vision people need to read, drive, and enjoy daily life. Data was analyzed for 4,003 AREDS participants, involving 7,934 eyes. Levels of AMD-protective nutrients, including vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), as well as low-GI foods, were assessed using participants’ food intake reports. (A food’s GI value is based on how fast its carbohydrates raise the body’s blood sugar levels; low GI foods have less impact on blood sugar fluctuations.) Each dietary factor was assigned a percentile score, and factor scores were added up to find each participant’s compound score. Compound scores were related to participants’ AMD risk, based on diagnostic eye photographs taken when they joined AREDS. Beta-carotene, assessed in this and earlier studies, did not affect risk levels in this analysis.

“Although the compound score may be a useful new tool for assessing nutrients in relation to AMD, specific dietary recommendations should be made only after our results are confirmed by clinical trials or prospective studies,” Dr. Chiu said.

AMD research is intensifying because the most susceptible population, people over age 60, is growing. A new report estimates 18 million will have AMD by 2050, 1.6 million of whom will be legally blind. Advanced AMD, especially the most prevalent “dry” form (geography atrophy), is a leading cause of severe vision impairment, and treatment options are limited. Preventing AMD and delaying disease progression would best preserve people’s quality of life while containing healthcare system cost and care challenges. Food sources of nutrients that support good general and eye health include: citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, and cold water fish.

Glaucoma Treatment is Cost-Effective, US Study Finds

As the Obama administration pushes healthcare providers to compare treatments for value and efficacy, a study of glaucoma diagnosis and care in the United States reports for the first time that current practices are cost-effective in regard to both vision quality and quality of life. Primary-open angle glaucoma (POAG), the most common form of this potentially blinding eye disease, affects more than two million Americans annually. Many others – people with a family history of glaucoma or with elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), a known precursor – also receive screening and treatment services each year. Annual POAG-related health care costs now exceed $3 billion. David B. Rein, PhD, RTI International, collaborated on the study with researchers from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Duke University and Harvard University. The study was funded by the CDC.

The researchers used a computer model to simulate assessment and treatment of POAG for 20 million people, tracked from age 50 to 100 (or death). Simulated participants were assigned ethnicities, gender, and life expectancy based on 2004 U.S. population data, and assigned active POAG, elevated IOP, and other relevant health conditions based on widely-accepted prevalence data. Patients diagnosed and treated for POAG were compared with people who were not assessed or treated. Care standards were drawn from the Academy’s Preferred Practice Pattern (PPP), used by U.S. and international ophthalmologists.

With no treatment a person with POAG would experience 5.2 years of visual impairment or blindness, on average, compared with 2.6 years for patients with treatment assumed to be conservatively effective. The peak age group for visual impairment and blindness was 75 to 79; with no treatment, 24.6 percent of people would have significant loss of vision, versus 12.1 percent (conservative efficacy) or 4.8 percent (optimistic efficacy) for treated patients.

Cost-effectiveness calculations included ophthalmic costs, nursing home costs attributable to vision problems, and total costs, as well as per-person Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALY) and years of unimpaired vision. QALY is a multi-factor formula used by researchers to measure a person’s health improvement, general functionality and well-being following a medical intervention and is factored over the person’s estimated remaining years of life. The lower the dollar amount calculated for a QALY, the higher the value of the intervention. Compared with no treatment, routine POAG care cost $46,000 per QALY gained (conservative) or $28,000 per QALY gained (optimistic.) These results compared favorably with World Health Organization cost-effectiveness standards.

“Current glaucoma assessment and treatment patterns are cost-effective in reducing vision loss and associated health problems, even with routine eye exam costs included,” Dr. Rein said.

Mary Wade

American Academy of Ophthalmology

Potential For Superhuman Vision Using Contact Lenses With Circuits

Movie characters from the Terminator to the Bionic Woman use bionic eyes to zoom in on far-off scenes, have useful facts pop into their field of view, or create virtual crosshairs. Off the screen, virtual displays have been proposed for more practical purposes – visual aids to help vision-impaired people, holographic driving control panels and even as a way to surf the Web on the go.

The device to make this happen may be familiar. Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights.

“Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside,” said Babak Parviz, a UW assistant professor of electrical engineering. “This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it’s extremely promising.” The results were presented today at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ international conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems by Harvey Ho, a former graduate student of Parviz’s now working at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif. Other co-authors are Ehsan Saeedi and Samuel Kim in the UW’s electrical engineering department and Tueng Shen in the UW Medical Center’s ophthalmology department.

There are many possible uses for virtual displays. Drivers or pilots could see a vehicle’s speed projected onto the windshield. Video-game companies could use the contact lenses to completely immerse players in a virtual world without restricting their range of motion. And for communications, people on the go could surf the Internet on a midair virtual display screen that only they would be able to see.

“People may find all sorts of applications for it that we have not thought about. Our goal is to demonstrate the basic technology and make sure it works and that it’s safe,” said Parviz, who heads a multi-disciplinary UW group that is developing electronics for contact lenses.

The prototype device contains an electric circuit as well as red light-emitting diodes for a display, though it does not yet light up. The lenses were tested on rabbits for up to 20 minutes and the animals showed no adverse effects.

Ideally, installing or removing the bionic eye would be as easy as popping a contact lens in or out, and once installed the wearer would barely know the gadget was there, Parviz said.

Building the lenses was a challenge because materials that are safe for use in the body, such as the flexible organic materials used in contact lenses, are delicate. Manufacturing electrical circuits, however, involves inorganic materials, scorching temperatures and toxic chemicals. Researchers built the circuits from layers of metal only a few nanometers thick, about one thousandth the width of a human hair, and constructed light-emitting diodes one third of a millimeter across. They then sprinkled the grayish powder of electrical components onto a sheet of flexible plastic. The shape of each tiny component dictates which piece it can attach to, a microfabrication technique known as self-assembly. Capillary forces – the same type of forces that make water move up a plant’s roots, and that cause the edge of a glass of water to curve upward – pull the pieces into position.

The prototype contact lens does not correct the wearer’s vision, but the technique could be used on a corrective lens, Parviz said. And all the gadgetry won’t obstruct a person’s view.

“There is a large area outside of the transparent part of the eye that we can use for placing instrumentation,” Parviz said. Future improvements will add wireless communication to and from the lens. The researchers hope to power the whole system using a combination of radio-frequency power and solar cells placed on the lens, Parviz said.

A full-fledged display won’t be available for a while, but a version that has a basic display with just a few pixels could be operational “fairly quickly,” according to Parviz.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and a Technology Gap Innovation Fund from the University of Washington.

Source: Hannah Hickey

University of Washington

Optovue Receives FDA Clearance On OCT Normative Database

Optovue, the company that launched the first FDA cleared fourier/spectral domain OCT in the U.S., announced that it has received 510(k) clearance on its Normative Database (“NDB”) for the RTVue OCT device.

“This affirms that our protocols and management of this large international, multi-site normative population are at the level that FDA regulatory guidelines require,” stated Mike Sinai, PhD, Sr. Director of Clinical Research for Optovue. “Most importantly, this demonstrates the safety and efficacy of our NDB based on FDA current standard for its intended uses. Furthermore, this is the only normative database taking into account patient age, signal strength of the scan, and even optic disk size in certain scans. These factors along with the large normal sampling, offers clinicians a high degree of confidence in our NDB as a reference tool in assessing retina nerve fiber thickness.”

The NDB for the RTVue system comprises over 600 eyes for the pending U.S. release, and is the largest FDA cleared NDB for an OCT device. Optovue plans on releasing the RTVue application update containing the newly cleared NDB for customers in the next several weeks.

About RTVue and iVue

RTVue was the first FDA cleared Fourier domain (also known as spectral domain) OCT launched in the United States, and also the first OCT cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for both corneal and retinal imaging. The iVue is the compact fourier-domain version of the RTVue OCT, offering the same scanning speed and resolution as the larger system, that includes scanning and reports for retina, retina nerve fiber and cornea assessment by the clinician.

Source: Optovue Inc

Human Eye Inspires Advance In Computer Vision From Boston College Researchers

Inspired by the behavior of the human eye, Boston College computer scientists have developed a technique that lets computers see objects as fleeting as a butterfly or tropical fish with nearly double the accuracy and 10 times the speed of earlier methods.

The linear solution to one of the most vexing challenges to advancing computer vision has direct applications in the fields of action and object recognition, surveillance, wide-base stereo microscopy and three-dimensional shape reconstruction, according to the researchers, who will report on their advance at the upcoming annual IEEE meeting on computer vision.

BC computer scientists Hao Jiang and Stella X. Yu developed a novel solution of linear algorithms to streamline the computer’s work. Previously, computer visualization relied on software that captured the live image then hunted through millions of possible object configurations to find a match. Further compounding the challenge, even more images needed to be searched as objects moved, altering scale and orientation.

Rather than combing through the image bank – a time- and memory-consuming computing task – Jiang and Yu turned to the mechanics of the human eye to give computers better vision.

“When the human eye searches for an object it looks globally for the rough location, size and orientation of the object. Then it zeros in on the details,” said Jiang, an assistant professor of computer science. “Our method behaves in a similar fashion, using a linear approximation to explore the search space globally and quickly; then it works to identify the moving object by frequently updating trust search regions.”

Trust search regions act as visual touchstones the computer returns to again and again. Jiang and Yu’s solution focuses on the mathematically-generated template of an image, which looks like a constellation when lines are drawn to connect the stars. Using the researchers’ new algorithms, computer software identifies an object using the template of a trust search region. The program then adjusts the trust search regions as the object moves and finds its mathematical matches, relaying that shifting image to a memory bank or a computer screen to record or display the object.

Jiang says using linear approximation in a sequence of trust regions enables the new program to maintain spatial consistency as an object moves and reduces the number of variables that need to be optimized from several million to just a few hundred. That increased the speed of image matching 10 times over compared with previous methods, he said.

The researchers tested the software on a variety of images and videos – from a butterfly to a stuffed Teddy Bear – and report achieving a 95 percent detection rate at a fraction of the complexity. Previous so-called “greedy” methods of search and match achieved a detection rate of approximately 50 percent, Jiang said.

Jiang will present the team’s findings at the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition 2009, which takes place June 20-25 in Miami.

Ed Hayward
Boston College