Protect Your Children

As the temperatures warm and kids head outdoors to play, UAB optometrist Leo Semmes, O.D., said that when it comes to sun
protection, “the younger, the better.” Damaging effects to the eyes from exposure to sunlight is cumulative, and most of us
have reached up to 50 percent exposure by the time we are 18. But by protecting eyes with sunglasses and brimmed hats, we can
block much of the sun’s damaging UV rays. How young, you ask? “As young as you can keep them on ’em,” Semmes said. “I have
friends who send me pictures of their infants wearing sunglasses and hats. ‘See, we were listening to you,’ they always tell

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

Gene Linked To Severe Diabetic Eye, Kidney Diseases

Researchers at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah and collaborative institutions have identified a gene called erythropoietin (EPO) that contributes to increased risk of severe diabetic eye and kidney diseases, called retinopathy and nephropathy.

The sight-threatening form of diabetic retinopathy, termed proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), is the most common cause of legal blindness in working-aged adults in the United States, accounting for 10% of new onset blindness overall. Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney disease, called end-stage renal disease (ESRD), in the U.S. and the Western world.

Led by Kang Zhang M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Division of Ophthalmic Genetics at the Moran Eye Center and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Utah, the study will be published online on May 5, 2008 in the journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Zhang explains the significance of the discovery: “We know that the development of PDR and ESRD in diabetic patients can be inherited. Although genetic factors are known to be important in the susceptibility (or resistance) to these complications, until now the genes involved have been mostly unknown.”

How did the researchers discover that this gene is involved in PDR and ESRD? In this study the researchers compared 1618 people with PDR and ESDR, and 954 diabetes patients without any eye or kidney disease in three separate populations. Their studies demonstrate that if a person has a copy of mutant EPO gene, they have an increased risk of developing PDR and ESRD during their lifetime.

Dr. Zhang explains the current use and cost of EPO for disease prevention and how this discovery may affect its use: “EPO is used extensively to help in the production of red blood cells when treating patients with anemia resulting from renal failure or chemotherapy. In the United States, erythropoietin represents one of the largest single drug expenses for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, approximately one billion dollars per year. Patients with anemia due to chronic renal disease (many of whom have diabetes) who receive frequent dosing of EPO to maintain higher hemoglobin levels have a higher rate of cardiovascular complications than patients who maintain a lower hemoglobin level. A similar effect of EPO on accelerating the decline of kidney function had been suggested by earlier studies. Our study suggests that caution may be warranted when maintaining higher hemoglobin concentration using exogenous EPO treatment in diabetic patients, as it might accelerate progression to PDR and ESRD.”

“Though there is no proven pharmacologic treatment for diabetic vascular eye diseases, inhibiting the growth of unwanted blood vessel growth using antibodies directed against vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF therapy) has been advocated,” said Dr. Dean Li, who is a co-author from the Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics, also at University of Utah, “This genetic study suggests that future therapeutic strategies need to consider blunting the effects of erythropoietin in addition or as an alternative to an anti-VEGF strategy”

In addition to Dr. Zhang’s team at the Moran Eye Center, other investigators contributing to the new findings are from the Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics, Department of Human Genetics at the University of Utah; the Sichuan Academy of Medical Sciences & Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital, China; Beetham Eye Institute, Joslin Diabetes Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Doheny Eye Institute, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, California Retina Consultants and Research.

University of Utah Health Sciences
420 Chipeta Way, Ste 1900
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
United States

Macular Degeneration: The ‘See Food’ Diet

Current research suggests that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent one of the leading causes of legal blindness among the elderly. The related report by Tuo et al, “A high omega-3 fatty acid diet reduces retinal lesions in a murine model of macular degeneration,” appears in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), loss of vision in the center of the visual field (macula) due to retinal damage, is one of the leading causes of legal blindness among the elderly. Approximately 10% of people from 66 to 74 years of age will develop some level of macular degeneration, making it difficult for them to read or even recognize faces.

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids has been found to protect against a variety of diseases including atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Retrospective studies have suggested that diets high in fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids may also contribute to protection against AMD. A group led by Dr. Chi-Chao Chan at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, MD examined the direct effect of omega-3 fatty acids on a mouse model of AMD. A diet with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids resulted in slower lesion progression, with improvement in some lesions. These mice had lower levels of inflammatory molecules and higher levels of anti-inflammatory molecules, which may explain this protective effect.

Tuo et al suggest that “a diet enriched in EPA and DHA can ameliorate the progression of retinal lesions in their mouse model of AMD” and that “the results in these mice are in line with the epidemiological studies of AMD risk reduction by long chain n-3 fatty acids.” The results “further provide the scientific basis for the application of omega-3 fatty acids and their biologically active derivatives in the prevention and treatment of AMD.” In future studies, Dr. Chan and colleagues plan to use this murine model “to evaluate [other] therapies that might delay the development of AMD.” Their ongoing projects include the “testing of systematic delivered pharmacochaperones and antioxidative molecules, as well as intraocularly delivered gene therapies.”

This work was supported by grants from The Intramural Research Program of the National Eye Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Health Assistance Foundation.

Tuo J, Ross RJ, Herzlich AA, Shen D, Ding X, Zhou M, Coon SL, Hussein N, Salem Jr N, Chan C-C: A high omega-3 fatty acid diet reduces retinal lesions in a murine model of macular degeneration. Am J Pathol 2009 175: 799-807

Angela Colmone

American Journal of Pathology

‘Now You See Its’ Yale Researchers Explain Why You Don’t

The bright yellow dot on the computer screen is stationary as the blue shapes in the background swirl around it. As the viewer continues to stare at the center of the screen, the yellow dot appears to vanish.

In a study published online Sunday in the journal Psychological Science, Yale University researchers Brian Scholl and Joshua J. New offer an explanation for “motion-induced blindness” – a phenomenon in which the mind makes objects in plain sight simply disappear.

Scholl, associate professor of psychology, and New, professor and postdoctoral fellow in the Perception and Cognition Laboratory of the Department of Psychology, say motion-induced blindness is analogous to scotomas, local regions of vision loss associated with several diseases. Many individuals with scotomas do not even realize they have “blind spots,” just as all people are unaware of their own blind spot, where the optic nerve exits the eye. In both cases, the brain recognizes that the blank spot in their visual field isn’t part of the outside world and simply erases it from consciousness.

In the computer-generated case of motion-induced blindness, the yellow dot does not take part in the surrounding motion, so the brain decides that it must not be part of the outside world and erases it from awareness, the researchers say. To avoid leaving a “hole” floating in space, the brain fills in the missing dot with information taken from the surrounding background, and the dot vanishes.

“We normally think of perception as helping us to recognize objects in the world, but this work shows how the brain also tries to help us by ignoring stimulation that may not be in the world, pretending it doesn’t exist,” said Scholl.

“If it’s all in your head, in other words, it’s not worth seeing,” New said.

Movies of the effects can be seen at the researchers website:

Yale University

Mumbai, India Offers World’s First Permanent Eye Treatment For Keratoconus At Shroff Eye Hospital (Bandra)

Keratoconus (cone shaped cornea) is not an uncommon eye condition in India. India extrapolated statistics reveal that over 5 lakh* people suffer from this disease. The incidence of keratoconus in families varies in literature from 5% to 20%. Shroff Eye Hospital alone has seen over 50 such patients in the past 2 years. A hint of keratoconus is frequently changing spectacle numbers. Some patients also have a high degree of cylindrical powers.

*One LAKH = 100,000
The cornea is the clear window on the front of the eye. It is normally a regular spherical dome in shape, becoming cone shaped in keratoconus. A new revolutionary treatment called Corneal Collagen Cross Linking (C3R® ) is now available for treating keratoconus permanently at Shroff Eye Hospital, India’s first JCI (USA) accredited eye hospital which has been serving patients with excellence over 88 years. This treatment is a simple, non surgical, non invasive treatment of one hour using the UV-X system halting the progress of this condition and increasing corneal strength by 300%.
The treatment is based on 2 steps:

1. Application of riboflavin eye drops (Vitamin B 2) (a photosensitizing agent)

2. Exposure to Ultraviolet A (UVA, 365nm) light

So far there was no permanent treatment to stop or treat the progression of keratoconus. Methods using rigid contact lens or other modalities, correct only the refractive error (spectacle numbers), but have nominal effect on the progression of keratoconus.

Dr. Anand Shroff, Chief Corneal and Refractive Eye Surgeon, Shroff Eye Hospital, Mumbai says,”With the launch of the C3R® treatment, people in India will have access to technology and treatments available at select centers in the world. C3R® is very safe and a permanent solution to Keratoconus. Further it is a simple, single sitting treatment requiring no major precautions, Most of the patients we have diagnosed had no indication that they were suffering from keratoconus. They visited the hospital to correct their spectacle numbers permanently with our advanced laser treatment (LASIK) as they were fed up of frequently changing their spectacles or were having difficulty with contact lenses. Such patients should never get treated with LASIK. Hence, the diagnosis of this condition before considering LASIK is a must and forms one of its major eligibility criteria”.

The majority of patients develop the disease after adolescence, between 12 and 20 years of age. The diagnosis in early disease can be tricky therefore important. However a more definitive diagnosis can be obtained using corneal topography. At Shroff Eye hospital, a simple test with the Wavelight Topolyser, very sensitive diagnostic equipment, amongst other checks can detect this condition accurately.

About Shroff Eye:

SHROFF EYE Hospital established since 1919, is the first eye hospital in India to accomplish the JCI- Joint Commission International accreditation. JCI is the Gold standard in stringent clinical quality standards, an international arm of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which evaluates quality standards of US hospitals. Today Dr. Ashok C. Shroff, Padma Shree in 1990 & his two sons Dr Rahul & Dr Anand Shroff are dedicated in maintaining the rich heritage of providing quality, cost-efficient healthcare to local, national, and international patients towards modern ophthalmology.

Shroff Eye Hospital
Tel: 66939372, 26431006, 66921000, 9821163901
Ms. Rachna Gupta – Extension: 703

Unveiling Prototype Bionic Eye

Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) unveils their wide-view neurostimulator concept – a bionic eye that will be implanted into Australia’s first recipient of the technology.

The prototype bionic eye, developed by BVA researchers at the University of New South Wales and unveiled at the BVA consortium’s official launch at the University of Melbourne, will deliver improved quality of life for patients suffering from degenerative vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

The device, which is currently undergoing testing, consists of a miniature camera mounted on glasses that captures visual input, transforming it into electrical signals that directly stimulate surviving neurons in the retina. The implant will enable recipients to perceive points of light in the visual field that the brain can then reconstruct into an image.

Research Director of Bionic Vision Australia and Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne, Professor Anthony Burkitt says the device will deliver life-changing vision for recipients.

“We anticipate that this retinal implant will provide users with increased mobility and independence, and that future versions of the implant will eventually allow recipients to recognise faces and read large print,” he says.

Bionic Vision Australia Chairman, Professor Emeritus David Penington AC says the BVA team’s outstanding expertise will be the key to delivering their ambitious goal of providing bionic vision within the next five years.

“This is an exciting moment in our venture. The team’s success is based on our world class multi-disciplinary approach which uses vision clinicians, retinal surgeons, neuroscientists, biomedical and electrical engineers from across the nation,” he says.

BVA is a partnership of world-leading Australian research institutions collaborating to develop an advanced retinal prosthesis, or bionic eye, to restore the sense of vision to people with degenerative or inherited retinal disease. The partners of Bionic Vision Australia are the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales, the Bionic Ear Institute, the Centre for Eye Research Australia and NICTA.

In December 2009 Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) was awarded $42 million from the Federal Government. Professor Penington says the grant, provided over four years, will take the team to the point where commercial development of an implant at the back of the eye, responding to wireless transmission of vision, will become a reality.

Retinitis Pigmentosa sufferer Leighton Boyd says this exciting development gives him hope that he will once again be able to see the faces of his loved ones.

Emma O’Neill

University of Melbourne

World Glaucoma Week

Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) joins eye health organizations and eyecare professionals worldwide for World Glaucoma Week, March 7 to 13, 2010. The observation is designed to spread awareness and understanding about the importance of early detection of glaucoma, the world’s second leading cause of blindness – and the leading cause of blindness in African Americans.

Established by the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association, World Glaucoma Week is a unique initiative to help those with an interest in improved eye health to understand the devastating effects of a condition that could affect as many as 80 million people by 2020.

Experts estimate that half of the people with glaucoma are unaware of their condition, and could be slowly losing their sight because their glaucoma has not been diagnosed or treated.

“Glaucoma Research Foundation has been ‘spreading the word’ about the looming epidemic of glaucoma brought on by the world’s aging population,” said Thomas M. Brunner, GRF President and CEO. “World Glaucoma Week is an opportunity for everyone to help spread the word by talking about glaucoma – either your own diagnosis or family history, or simply sharing information and encouraging eye examinations. In this way we can all help to prevent irreversible vision loss from this ‘silent thief of sight’.”

Learn more about glaucoma.

Glaucoma Research Foundation

Expanding Fields Of Vision – New Virtual Reality Goggles Create An Equal Opportunity Eye Test

Visual field tests are widely used by eye doctors and neurologists. By determining the health of the retina, optic nerve and the visual pathway throughout the brain, the test can uncover glaucoma and conditions such as optic neuritis or brain damage. Essential to undergo before one can drive a car or fly a plane, the visual field test is also used to pinpoint neurological damage after an accident or surgery.

Today’s visual field test is hard to pass, especially among those who need it the most. Sitting at the machine with the chin propped up on a ledge, a patient must fix their eye at a target and then simultaneously press a button when stimulated with light. “The test is uncomfortable, not entirely accurate, and difficult for the elderly, children and people with disabilities,” says Dr. Arieh S. Solomon, Head of Experimental Ophthalmology at Tel Aviv University’s Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger Eye Research Institute, Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

As an eye research doctor, Dr. Solomon thought there could be a better solution and has recently developed a breakthrough technology — a visual field test that comes in a compact device worn over the eyes as goggles, and which solves the limitations of the current standard test.

A Visual Improvement

The new Tel Aviv University-developed device — the VIP Virtual Perimetry — removes the physical limitations of the traditional bulky machine used today. The new device is able to instantly study and measure a patient’s reflex, when presented with a visual stimulus. Equally exciting, the new device removes previously high rates of false negatives and positives answers, says Dr. Solomon, who integrated three technologies to develop the VIP goggles.

“Past the age of 60, every person has to go for this test every two years before renewing their driver’s licence,” he says. “People tire from it quickly and it reports false information on a large number of people who are unable to sit still in the machine,” he adds. The new cost-effective goggle device can be connected and used anywhere there is a computer hook-up, even in developing countries, or at a patient’s bedside while under care.
Endorsed by International Eye Doctors

Patented by Ramot, the technology transfer arm of Tel Aviv University, the VIP was created and tested in a clinical setting by the Israeli company Iview Ltd. It could be ready for commercialization in the U.S. within a year, if given the right financial backing, says Dr. Solomon, who also received support from the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to develop the device.
The VIP has been tested on eye doctors who have given it rave reviews during the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), an international organization. “The VIP was appreciated by all of the doctors who wanted to test it for themselves. They know the problems with the current visual field test and welcome a new solution,” concludes Dr. Solomon.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University

GOC Removes 399 Student Opticians From The Registers, UK

The General Optical Council (GOC) has removed from its registers a total of 399 student optometrists and dispensing opticians who failed to renew their registration for 2008/9.

When compared to last year’s figures, this represents a three per cent increase in the number of students who failed to complete the retention process. The relevant education providers and examining bodies are being sent lists of students who have been removed.

Acting Registrar and Chief Executive, Dian Taylor warned: “Unregistered students who intend to continue with their studies must make sure they reapply for registration before the autumn term gets underway. Student opticians have a responsibility to demonstrate professionalism and accountability from day one in their careers, which means getting their retention application and fee in on time.”

The GOC has further warned that any unregistered student who carries out reserved functions, such as sight testing, may face prosecution for a criminal offence. Unregistered students should not be allowed to continue with their course or pre-registration training. Nor should they sit any exams until they have re-applied for registration. Council may refuse full registration to any student who has not been continuously registered, and any gaps in registration may be taken into account when determining fitness to practise at a later stage.

To reapply for registration students must submit a completed application for student registration form, and pay the ??20 retention fee. Retention forms will no longer be accepted. Application forms for student registration and further information are available from the GOC website, optical. The registration team can also be contacted on 020 7580 3898 (option 1) or email superinfooptical.

First year students starting optometry or dispensing optics courses this year will need to register before their course begins. This Autumn the GOC will be visiting all the universities and colleges which are providing GOC-approved courses to give new students an insight into the profession, and to highlight the role of the GOC and requirements for registration.

1. There are a total of 3732 students on the Council’s registers, including 1437 student dispensing opticians and 2295 student optometrists.

2. Student registrants removed from the register:
Student optometrists – 133
Student dispensing opticians – 266

3. Optometry and dispensing optics come into contact with patients during their educational courses and practical training. Since 30 June 2005, it has been a legal requirement for optometry and dispensing optics students to be registered with the General Optical Council.

4. The student registration year runs from 1 September to 31 August, and students must apply for retention by 15 July.

About the General Optical Council

The GOC is the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of education, conduct and performance amongst its registrants. The Council currently registers around 22,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

General Optical Council

Foresight Biotherapeutics Announces Positive Results From An Open Label Pilot Study In Patients With Viral Conjunctivitis

Foresight Biotherapeutics, Inc. announced completion of a multi-center open-label pilot study of FST100 in the treatment of viral conjunctivitis. FST-100 is a novel formulation of dexamethasone that includes povidone iodine. The trial studied patients with clinical signs and symptoms of acute conjunctivitis who tested positive for adenoviral antigen by the RPS Adeno Detector® (RPS). Patients were enrolled in a single arm utilizing FST-100 topical ophthalmic suspension given 4 times daily for 5 days. The RPS Adeno Detector® test was performed at baseline and at each visit along with conjunctival swabs for adenoviral titers by quantitative PCR (qPCR) and cell culture with confirmatory immunoflourescence (CC-IFA). The primary endpoint of the study was clinical resolution of conjunctival injection and conjunctival discharge. These signs were scored on a scale from zero to three. Secondary endpoints included reduction of viral titers measured by qPCR and eradication of infectious virus determined by CC-IFA.

FST-100 met the primary endpoint of the study by demonstrating complete resolution of conjunctivitis signs (a score of zero) in all eyes completing the study. One patient was lost to follow-up. In all RPS positive eyes with confirmed viral infection by qPCR and CC-IFA clinical symptoms resolved within 72 hours. All eyes completing the study with detectable adenovirus by qPCR demonstrated significant reduction in viral titers by 48-96 hours and the majority demonstrated elimination of infectivity by CC-IFA by 72-96 hours. There were no adverse events in the study.

Lead investigator Jesse Pelletier, M.D. commented, “We are excited about this preliminary data and look forward to enrolling patients in a larger controlled clinical study. Currently, there are no drugs approved for the treatment of viral conjunctivitis and it is certainly an area of unmet medical need.”

Foresight Biotherapeutics, Inc.