Browse By Topic: Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a gradual, progressive, painless deterioration of the macula, the small area in the center of the retina. Learn more about risk factors, symptoms, and treatments for AMD, as well as other eye conditions that can cause low vision: macular hole, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa. You can also find helpful tips and techniques for everyday living skills and reading and writing, along with helpful products and low vision devices. Register to receive alerts and news relating to vision loss, including the latest updates in medical research.

New Research: A Potential Eye Drop Treatment Could Take the Place of Injectable Drugs for Wet Macular Degeneration

Logo of the Association forResearch in Vision &Ophthalmology Currently, there are a number of treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration, including the drugs Lucentis, Eylea, and Avastin, administered by injection with a very small needle directly into the eye after the


Treating Macular Degeneration with Gene Therapy: New Research Shows Promise but Also Has Limitations

The Lancet logo Currently, there are a number of treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration, including the drugs Lucentis, Eylea, and Avastin, administered by injection with a very small needle directly into the eye after the surface has been numbed (also called


New Genetic Research in Diabetes Identifies a Protein That May Stop or Reduce Abnormal Blood Vessel Growth in the Retina

A retina with diabeticretinopathy New genetic research in diabetes, led by a team from Harvard Medical School, has identified a potential new therapy targeting RUNX1 (explained below) that significantly reduced abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina, which is a hallmark of advanced diabetic eye disease. Although the research has been conducted only with "in vitro" (explained below) laboratory


May Is Healthy Vision Month: Make Your Eye Health a Priority and Learn How to Protect Your Vision

May is Healthy Vision Month, a national eye health observance established by the National Eye Institute (NEI) in May 2003. NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This year, NEI is encouraging women to make eye health a priority and has designated four women as ambassadors – including VisionAware's Audrey Demmitt – who share their


New Research: Emotional Support and Physician Communication Must Accompany Medical Treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Although the advent of anti-VEGF therapy (explained below), administered via eye injection with Lucentis, Eylea, or Avastin, has revolutionized the treatment (but not cure) of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there remain a number of challenges associated with


H.R.2050: The Medicare Demonstration of Coverage of Low Vision Devices Act of 2017 Needs Your Advocacy and Support

Dome of the U.S. Capitol The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Public Policy Center has announced the reintroduction of federal legislation that seeks to establish a nationwide Medicare demonstration project to evaluate the fiscal impact of a permanent change in Medicare coverage that would, for the first time, provide reimbursement for low vision devices. The AFB Public Policy Center, in Washington, DC, collaborates with policy


Do the Brains of Blind Persons "Rewire" or Adjust to Significantly Enhance the Other Senses? New Research Says Yes

An age-old question that surfaces regularly in my work is this one: "Is it true that blind people develop super senses, like extra-sensitive hearing or touch, to compensate for not being able to see?" A variation of the "super senses" question asks this: "Are the other senses truly enhanced, or do people without the sense of sight – and the input it provides – learn to pay closer attention to information received through the other senses?" Indeed, researchers, scholars, and philosophers have addressed this elusive question for many years: In 1749,


Understanding Our Shifting Health Insurance Landscape – and What It Means for People with Vision Loss

Rebecca Sheffield, Ph.D. Guest blogger Rebecca Sheffield, Ph.D., is the Senior Policy Researcher with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. The AFB Public Policy Center collaborates with policy makers in Congress and the Executive Branch to ensure that Americans with vision loss have equal rights and opportunities to fully participate in society. She also is the author of two important and helpful Public Policy Center publications:


Readers Beware: In a Dangerous and Unregulated Stem Cell Treatment, Patients Lose Sight After Stem Cells Are Injected Into Their Eyes

A retina with wet AMD Of all the eye research developments reported on the VisionAware blog, it is stem cell research for eye disease that generates the most inquiries from our readers. Many readers request information about stem cells, assuming that this is an established and widely-performed treatment for eye disease; others ask for help in finding a doctor who will administer "stem cell treatments." In response to these inquiries, my message is always the same: "Although stem cell research for eye disease has produced a small number of interesting results, it is in its very earliest safety-testing


New Research: Gene Editing as a Potential Treatment for Wet Macular Degeneration

At present, there are a number of current treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration, including the drugs Lucentis, Eylea, and Avastin, administered by injection with a very small needle directly into the eye after the surface has been numbed. There have also been a number of treatments that have proven to be inconclusive or unsuccessful after undergoing clinical trials, including


During Low Vision Awareness Month: Learn More About Helpful Non-Optical Devices for Low Vision

As we age, our eyes change too. In most cases, regular eyeglasses or contact lenses can correct many of these vision changes. However, if your eye doctor tells you that your vision cannot be fully corrected with ordinary prescription glasses, medication, or surgery and you still have some usable vision, you have what is called "low vision." What Is Low Vision? Having low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery, you may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as


Our Readers Want to Know: What Does It Mean When My Eye Doctor Tells Me I Have "Low Vision"?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search online]. Of particular concern to many readers are issues related to the diagnosis and treatment of low vision, as evidenced by the following searches: I've been told I have low vision, but what does this mean? How is low vision different from blindness? Is there a cure for low vision? An Answer from VisionAware: What


New Macular Degeneration Research: Will My AMD Affect Both Eyes? If So, How Soon Will That Happen?

Two questions asked most frequently by readers about age-related macular degeneration (AMD) involve (a) individual risk for the disorder and (b) the likelihood of eventual involvement of both eyes. In response, several recent studies have attempted to address these critically important questions: Data from the ongoing Blue Mountains Eye Study (BMES) and the


Clinical Trial Update: Squalamine Eye Drops for Wet Macular Degeneration

A retina with wet AMD Many readers have been following closely the development of Squalamine Eye Drops for wet age-related macular degeneration, hoping that a self-administered at-home eye drop could reduce, or even eliminate, the need for monthly or as-needed eye injections. Unfortunately, a clinical trial designed to test this concept has produced disappointing results: Squalamine Eye Drops failed to reduce the average number of


New Glaucoma Research from the United Kingdom: Could a Glaucoma Treatment also Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

Two recent United Kingdom-based eye research projects have begun to explore potential (but not yet proven) links between retinal disease and beta-amyloid proteins that accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. The first project, from the University of Southampton, England, investigated the potential role of beta-amyloid protein in the development of macular degeneration. The second project (explained below), from researchers at University


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Progress of Stem Cell Research for Eye Disease? Answer: It Has a Very Long Way to Go

Logo of the Association forResearch in Vision andOphthalmology Of all the eye research developments reported on the VisionAware blog, it is stem cell research for eye disease that generates the most inquiries from readers. Many readers request information about how to join a stem cell clinical trial, or find a doctor who will perform stem cell treatments. In response to these inquiries, my message is always the same: "Although stem cell research has produced interesting results, it is in its very earliest stages and must be subjected to additional, longer-term, rigorous study and clinical trials, encompassing many more years of research. Success in this


Clinical Trial Update: An Unsuccessful Trial of Combination Drugs Fovista and Lucentis for Macular Degeneration

A retina with wet AMD Although the advent of anti-VEGF therapy (explained below), administered via eye injection with Lucentis, Eylea, or Avastin, has revolutionized the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are still a


New Research: Can Proteins that Characterize Alzheimer's Disease Contribute to an Understanding of Macular Degeneration?

A retina with wet AMD New research from the University of Southampton, England is investigating the mechanisms that contribute to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – particularly the presence of the beta-amyloid proteins that also accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. According to study co-author Arjuna Ranayaka, Ph.D., "We know that AMD is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle risk factors, but this novel discovery could open up new


New Research from Canada and France: Can Your Gut Microbes Influence the Development of Wet Macular Degeneration?

A retina with wet AMD New research From Canada and France reveals that microbes in the gut might play an important role in the development of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These findings indicate that it might be possible to prevent, or delay the development of, wet AMD by changing the balance of microbes in the gut through diet or other means. According to study co-author Przemyslaw Sapieha, from the University of Montreal and McGill University, "Our research


Meet Joseph Fontenot, MD, CVLT: Be Informed and Proactive About Low Vision Services, Protect Yourself, and Always "Buyer Beware"

Joseph Fontenot,M.D., CLVT Dr. Joseph Fontenot is a medical doctor, Certified Low Vision Therapist, and Medical Director of Community Services for Vision Rehabilitation (CSVR), with offices in Alabama and Mississippi. He is also the current Chair of the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Vision Rehabilitation Committee. In that role,


A Powerful New Report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: Making Eye and Vision Health an Imperative for All Americans

The National Academiesof Sciences, Engineering,and Medicine logo Several recent United States-based eye and vision research projects, including the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study and the Philadelphia Glaucoma Detection and Treatment Project, have highlighted significant disparities in the quality and equity of eye care throughout the country, including barriers within the health care and public


Updates from the London Project to Cure Blindness: Stem Cell Research for Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration

Please note: This is an older post and there have significant challenges in stem cell research for eye disease since this was published. For more current information, see Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Progress of Stem Cell Research for Eye Disease? Answer: It Has a Very Long Way to Go. The London Project to Cure Blindness was established ten years ago in the United Kingdom with the goal of


New Research Exploring Public Attitudes About Eye and Vision Health: Losing Vision Is Equal to Losing Hearing, Memory, Speech, or a Limb

New survey research from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago that explores Americans' attitudes toward (a) the importance of eye health, (b) concerns about losing vision, (c) support for eye health research, and (d) awareness of eye diseases and risk factors has also revealed that the loss of eyesight is considered by many survey respondents to be "the worst ailment that could happen … relative to losing memory, speech, hearing, or a limb." According to the authors, "These findings emphasize the importance of focusing on the preservation of eye health and public support for vision research across all ethnic and racial groups in


New Research Examines the Risk of Serious Eye Infection After Eye Injection Treatments for Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Eye Disease

Although the injectable drugs Lucentis, Eylea, or Avastin have revolutionized the treatment of wet macular degeneration and diabetic eye


An Award-Winning Optometric Student Essay: Ethical Issues in Low Vision Rehabilitation

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is the academic leadership organization committed to promoting excellence in optometric education. ASCO's activities cover a wide range of educational issues related to optometry, including applicant development and diversity, faculty and executive development, advocacy, and communications. ASCO also recognizes optometric student achievement through a number of annual awards, including the


New Research: The Number of Older Americans with Visual Impairment or Blindness Is Expected To Double By 2050

According to new demographic research addressing blindness, vision impairment, and low vision, the number of older Americans who have visual impairments or are blind is projected to double by 2050. This important – and urgent – research, entitled Visual Impairment and Blindness in Adults in the United States: Demographic and Geographic Variations from 2015 to 2050, has been published "online first" in the May 19, 2016 edition of JAMA


New Research: Automobile Side Windows Do not Offer Sufficient Protection from UV Light, Increase the Risk of Cataracts and Other Eye Diseases

United States government regulations require automobile windshields to be made with laminated glass to lessen potential injury when shattered. The combination of laminated glass and extra-thick glass in front windshields provides protection against ultraviolet-A radiation. However, new research from California indicates that automobile side windows do not provide the same level of protection against ultraviolet-A radiation compared to the front-facing windshield, which may increase the risk of cataracts and skin cancer for frequent drivers. In addition, there is


Aging in America: Women at Risk for Vision Problems

by Mary E. Worstell, MPH Editor's note: Guest blogger Mary E. Worstell, MPH, is Senior Advisor, Office on Women's Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Worstell recently spoke on a panel at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Leadership Conference and at a recent teleconference on the 21st Century Agenda on Vision Loss and Aging. She spoke to the health and disability disparities represented by seniors with vision loss and the need for collaborative efforts to improve services for older persons with vision loss. She encouraged our community to "be proactive and at the


Understanding Low Vision Care and Low Vision Devices: Part 2 in a Series on Low Vision and Low Vision Services by Bryan Gerritsen, CLVT

Guest blogger Bryan Gerritsen is a certified low vision therapist (CLVT) and owner of Low Vision Rehabilitation Services, providing low vision services throughout Utah. He is also the author of An Overview of Low Vision Devices,


New Macular Degeneration Research from the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study

New results from the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study indicate that early – as opposed to later and more severe – vision changes resulting from macular degeneration (AMD) are associated with a lower self-reported vision-specific health-related quality of life. According to study co-author Dr. Rohit Varma, "The study results are a wake-up call for both ophthalmologists and those in the Latino community to avoid a quality of life decline due to ocular conditions, especially in earlier stages of eye diseases


There is Hope; There is Help: Part 1 in a Series on Low Vision and Low Vision Services by Bryan Gerritsen, CLVT

Guest blogger Bryan Gerritsen is a certified low vision therapist (CLVT) and owner of Low Vision Rehabilitation Services, providing low vision services throughout Utah. He is also the author of An Overview of Low Vision Devices,


Our Readers Want to Know: Can You Tell Me More About Nutritional Supplements for Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet] as well as answer specific reader inquiries via email. Every month, questions about macular degeneration (AMD), including risks, treatments, and helpful resources, consistently rank among the top inquiries: I am 76 years old and have dry AMD in my left eye and wet in the other, first diagnosed in 2009. Can supplements help me or am I wasting my money? I am currently using [a pharmacy


Charles Bonnet Syndrome: Visual Hallucinations Are My Constant Companions by VisionAware Peer Advisor Sheila Rousey

Guest blogger and VisionAware Peer Advisor Sheila Rousey is an educator, assistive technology specialist, and certified braille transcriber. With a Master's degree in Special Education from Clemson University, Sheila has provided Interrelated Special Education Instruction in the public


New Research from Canada: Approximately One in Five Persons with Vision Loss Experience Visual Hallucinations

Charles Bonnet ("Bo-NAY") Syndrome (CBS) is a condition that causes vivid, complex, recurrent visual hallucinations, usually in older adults with later-life vision loss from eye conditions that can include macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and


New Research: Statins May Show Promise as a Treatment for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

One of the most significant challenges facing eye and vision researchers is developing an effective treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although there are now a number of well-regarded FDA-approved drug treatments for wet AMD, the key to effective dry AMD treatment remains elusive, although


Meet Author Irv Arons and Learn More About Gene Therapy and Gene Editing for Eye Disease

Irv Arons is the creator of – and driving force behind – Irv Arons' Journal, an online compendium of the latest information on ophthalmics, medical lasers, clinical trials, developments in stem cell therapy and gene therapy, and emerging drug therapies and treatments for retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration. Until his retirement in 2005, Irv was a consultant to the ophthalmic industry for over 30 years, and to the medical laser industry for over 20 years.


New Research Explained: Restoring Vision Following Long-Term Blindness: Prosthetic Vision and Considerations for Rehabilitation

During the past several years, there has been much "buzz" in the popular press about the capabilities of the so-called "bionic" eye, described variously as "miraculous," "restoring sight," and "letting me see again." At VisionAware, we have followed the development of "bionic" or "prosthetic" vision closely, avoiding hyperbole and striving to report factual, research-based information about the limitations of restored vision. Now, in this month's edition of the Journal of Vision Impairment & Blindness, two researchers who are pioneers in the study of prosthetic vision analyze the current state of the art in


New Research: Stepped Care for Coping with Age-Related Vision Loss, Depression, and Anxiety

New research from Europe indicates that stepped care – a type of treatment that can offer self-help and "as needed" options for coping with age-related vision loss and depression – can offer promise in dealing with depression and anxiety in visually impaired older adults. Further, this stepped care approach (detailed below) could lead to standardized strategies for the screening, monitoring, treatment, and referral of visually impaired older adults with vision-related depression and anxiety. From the British Medical Journal (BMJ) The research, entitled


New Genetic Research in Macular Degeneration: The International AMD Genomics Consortium

The International Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Genomics Consortium, which includes 26 centers worldwide, has published new data and information about the role of genes and their contribution to the risk of macular degeneration. Previously, researchers had identified 21 regions of the human genome – called loci – that are associated with an increased risk of AMD. The new research, published in Nature Genetics, increases the number of loci to 34.


Our Readers Want to Know: Why Am I Having Visual Hallucinations Along with My Vision Loss?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Since the earliest days of VisionAware.org, and more so during the past year, the following questions appear consistently within our top searches: I'm seeing things that I know aren't there. What is wrong with me? I'm nervous because I see people in my house, but I know they're not really there. Why is this happening? An Answer from VisionAware <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=3758" alt="Engraving of Charles Bonnet in profile.


AFB Press Releases New Edition of Making Life More Livable: Simple Adaptations for Living at Home after Vision Loss

by Mary D'Apice, VisionAware Contributing Writer An interview with Maureen A. Duffy, CVRT, Author Making Life More Livable Agencies that provide services to people who are blind or visually impaired offer vision rehabilitation to the 5.3 million Americans over 65 with


New Macular Degeneration Research: Some Eyes not Responsive to Initial Eye Injection Treatments May Benefit from Continued Treatment without Switching Drugs

Although the advent of anti-VEGF therapy (also called eye injections, explained below) has revolutionized the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are still a number of persons – although in the minority – who do not respond to treatment. It is these "non-responders" or "reduced responders" who continue to pose significant challenges to doctors and researchers. Since there are not, at present, specific protocols that govern ophthalmologists' decisions to switch


Enrollment News about the New PIVOT Study: Patient-centric Innovative Vision Home Testing

The PIVOT Study (Patient-centric Innovative Vision HOme Testing) is a new clinical study that is being initiated to determine if persons with diabetic macular edema (DME) or wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) can use the myVisionTrack™ (mVT™) mobile medical application (also called


The First Stem Cell Clinical Trial for Wet Macular Degeneration Is Underway in London

Please note: This is an older post and there have been setbacks and significant changes in stem cell research for eye disease since this was first published. For more current information, see Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Progress of Stem Cell Research for Eye Disease? Answer: It Has a Very Long Way to Go. Also see the author's updates in the comment section below. A pioneering clinical trial of a new treatment derived from embryonic


Good Nutrition and Eye Health: They're Connected!

Guest blogger Audrey Demmitt, RN, BSN, is a nurse diabetic educator, VisionAware Peer Advisor, AFB Career Connect mentor, and author of the VisionAware multi-part blog series on diabetes and diabetes education. At age 25, Audrey was diagnosed with


Meet Antonio Capone, Jr., MD, and His Pioneering Work in Face-Down Positioning after Macular Hole Surgery

Antonio Capone, Jr., M.D. is a board-certified ophthalmologist whose special interests include pediatric vitreoretinal diseases, complicated retinal detachment, ocular oncology, and macular disease. Dr. Capone is an internationally recognized clinician, surgeon, and educator. He has authored or co-authored over 200 publications in peer-reviewed medical journals, book chapters, and publications from clinical trials. He is currently a Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Oakland University, and Professor at the European School for Advanced Studies in Ophthalmology, Lugano, Switzerland. In addition, he is Co-Director of the


A New Stem Cell Immune Rejection Discovery Shows Promise for Treating Retinal Disease

A joint China-United States research team has discovered that a class of stem cells derived from an individual's own cells were not rejected by the immune system when they were turned into retinal pigment epithelium cells destined for the eye. This important discovery provides a boost for the development of human stem cell therapies to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although this research has been conducted only with laboratory mice, this concept shows great promise for developing and identifying human stem cell treatments for a variety


New Research: Faulty Immune Cells May be a Cause of Vision Loss in Macular Degeneration

A research group from the Washington University School of Medicine has identified a faulty immune cell pathway that leads to the formation of atypical blood vessels associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although their research thus far has been conducted only with laboratory mice, this concept shows great promise for identifying potential treatments for wet AMD and increases our understanding of the ways that


Meet Doug Anzlovar and the New "Low Vision Focus @ Hadley" Program at The Hadley School for the Blind

Doug Anzlovar is the Vice President of Education and Training at The Hadley School for the Blind, where he serves as a member of the administrative team, oversees a 31-member faculty, is involved in curriculum decisions and policy development, and oversees the Low Vision Focus @ Hadley program. Prior to joining Hadley, Doug worked as a teacher of the visually impaired in the Chicago Public Schools for nearly 10 years. While at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Doug developed a resource program for students with visual impairments and later became chair


Macular Degeneration, Central Vision Loss, and Preferred Retinal Location: New Research May Enable New Approaches to Low Vision Rehabilitation

People who have central vision loss, caused primarily by age-related macular degeneration, can sometimes adapt by developing a new fixation point in a different part of the retina, called the preferred retinal location (PRL). Recently, Canadian vision scientists developed a new method that makes it possible to identify PRLs in both eyes simultaneously. This new "proof-of-principle" technique opens the door to an exploration of new approaches to low vision rehabilitation for people with central vision loss. As the authors note,


Optogenetics: Can This Innovative Gene Therapy Treat Degenerative Retinal Disease and Possibly Restore Sight?

A research group of Swiss and German scientists has restored vision to mice with a condition similar to retinitis pigmentosa (RP) by introducing engineered light-sensing proteins into their eyes, via a process known as optogenetics. Optogenetics is a still-experimental treatment for a variety of blinding retinal disorders that uses gene therapy to enable retinal and brain cells to respond to light. According to the researchers, "… optogenetic gene therapy, which selectively introduces genes encoding light-sensitive proteins into surviving retinal cells to act as


Can a Drug to Treat Parkinson’s Disease Also Prevent Macular Degeneration?

The treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has – by all accounts – been revolutionized by the successful use of the injectable drugs Eylea, Lucentis, and Avastin. Successful treatments for


91-year-old Inventor with Visual Impairment Designs for Her Generation

91-year-old Barbara Beskind is the toast of Silicon Valley as well the toast of the media, with interviews on National Public Radio and the Today Show. In the high tech industry where youth reigns, Beskind has a coveted job as a designer at IDEO, a world-renowned consulting firm perhaps most famous for designing the first Apple mouse. Beskind is living her dream, though it was a dream deferred. As a resourceful 8-year-old during the Depression, Beskind built a


Researchers Uncover Commonalities Shared by Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Stroke

Researchers from Louisiana State University in New Orleans have discovered previously unknown gene interactions that are common to ischemic stroke [i.e., a stroke in which blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked] and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to the research team, these gene interactions "make definitive decisions about whether a retina or brain cell will survive or die when threatened with disease onset" and


New Research: Tiny Calcium Deposits in the Eye May Trigger the Development of Macular Degeneration

Researchers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany have discovered that tiny spheres of calcium phosphate, a component of teeth and bones in the human body, may also provide a significant early triggering mechanism for the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The research team is investigating the possibility of using the presence of these calcium spheres as an early warning signal for AMD risk that can help with


New Research: Top-Selling Eye Supplements Lack Scientific Evidence, Make Unsupported Claims

An American research group has concluded that claims made about top-selling eye vitamin brands and products in the United States lack concrete scientific evidence supported by clinical trial outcomes. The researchers also determined that many of the most heavily promoted and top-selling products do not contain ingredients and dosages identical to "eye vitamin" formulas that have been proven effective in the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2), sponsored by the National Eye


New Research: Patients not Referred for Low Vision Services in a Timely and Efficient Manner

Last month, at the 2014 American Academy of Optometry Annual Meeting, a group of student researchers from the New England College of Optometry presented survey data that identified (a) patient barriers to low vision services and (b) the actions optometrists can take to improve the efficiency of referrals to low vision specialists. Their research revealed a discrepancy between


Existing FDA-Approved HIV/AIDS Drugs Could Be Repurposed to Treat Macular Degeneration

An international research group has reported that HIV/AIDS drugs, in use for the last 30 years, could be repurposed to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as other systemic inflammatory disorders. Their research tested the treatment effects of nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) on dry AMD in laboratory mice. NRTIs are a class of drugs that were designed to


New Genetic Research Investigates the Link between Inflammation and Macular Degeneration

European researchers investigating the link between inflammation and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have identified a protein, called FHL-1, that functions as a type of "regulator" to protect the eye from an attack by the immune system. According to lead author Dr. Simon Clark, this important genetic research has identified a new target for therapeutic drugs that can "reset" the immune imbalance in the eye, thus possibly preventing, or delaying the progression of, AMD. From the Journal of


New Retinal Scan Analysis Can Predict Progression of Macular Degeneration within a Year

During the past several months, there has been much research interest focused on predicting the progression of age related macular degeneration (AMD). Last month, a new study in JAMA Ophthalmology investigated the pattern and progression of wet (also called neovascular) AMD and determined that having wet AMD in one eye was associated with an increased incidence and progression of AMD in


Macular Degeneration in One Eye Associated with Increased Incidence and Progression in the Other Eye

A new study has investigated the pattern and progression of wet (also called neovascular) age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and determined that having wet AMD in one eye was associated with an increased incidence and progression of AMD in the other eye. The researchers concluded that "AMD severity in one eye largely tracks AMD severity in the 'fellow' eye at all stages of the disease." The study results clarify the symmetrical nature of AMD and may help physicians and patients communicate more clearly when


Adult Stem Cells for Dry AMD: Emerging Future Research from the National Eye Institute

One of the most significant challenges facing eye and vision researchers is the development of an effective treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although there are now a number of well-regarded FDA-approved drug treatments for wet AMD, the key to effective dry AMD treatment remains elusive thus far, although


Updated Stem Cell Clinical Trial Results for Stargardt Disease and Dry Macular Degeneration

Please note: this is an older post and much has changed since the time of publication. For more current information, see Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Progress of Stem Cell Research for Eye Disease? Answer: It Has a Very Long Way to Go. Also see the author's updates, below. On October 14, 2014, Ocata Therapeutics (formerly Advanced Cell Technology, Inc.) announced positive


Newly-Discovered Corneal Stem Cells Could Be a Potential Source for Treatment of Retinal Disease

New research from the United Kingdom has demonstrated that stem cells found in the cornea could provide a source of photoreceptor cells for transplant in persons with degenerative retinal conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa. Please note: This "proof of concept" research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory mice. Human clinical trials using corneal stem cells will likely not begin until 2019 or 2020, at


Avastin Injection Dosages Can Vary Significantly When Prepared by Compounding Pharmacies

A new study has investigated the safety, sterility, and dosage consistency of Avastin, a lower-cost intravenous cancer drug that is used "off label," via eye injection, to treat a range of retinal disorders including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema, and retinal vein occlusion.


In Clinical Trials: A Potential Self-Administered Treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema

Aerpio Therapeutics, Inc. is a new Cincinnati, Ohio-based biopharmaceutical company focused on developing new therapies for vascular [i.e., blood vessel] diseases, including diabetic macular edema (DME) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This week, Aerpio announced positive clinical trial results for


New Research: Do People with Macular Degeneration Under-Report Their Smoking Rates?

New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham has investigated the possible under-reporting of smoking – regarded as a major modifiable risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – by persons with the disease. The study concludes that "the rate of possible smoking deception [appears] higher for macular degeneration and those at risk of late-stage AMD than is generally reported in the US population." The research, entitled


Do Doctors Approach Macular Degeneration Differently When Treating Themselves?

Do retinal physicians approach wet age-related macular degeneration differently when treating themselves versus treating their patients? This question was explored in a recent presentation by Jonathan Prenner, M.D., at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Retina Specialists in San Diego, California. The mission of the American Society of Retina Specialists is to provide a scientific forum for education, advance the understanding and treatment of retinal diseases, and


Integrated Low Vision and Mental Health Treatment Can Reduce or Prevent Depression

The first clinical trial to examine integrated low vision and mental health treatment – bridging ophthalmology, optometry, psychiatry, psychology, and rehabilitation – has demonstrated that an interdisciplinary rehabilitation program can reduce the incidence of depression by half among older adults with low vision due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Ophthalmology: the Journal The research, entitled Low Vision Depression Prevention Trial in Age-Related Macular


Does Treating Macular Degeneration Lead to Improved Quality of Life? New Research Says Yes

A group of Australian researchers has demonstrated that treating wet age-related macular degeneration with Lucentis, Eylea, or Avastin injections not only increases patients' visual acuity – it can also improve their vision-related quality of life. Ophthalmology: the Journal The research, entitled The Impact of


New Research: An Innovative Simulator Evaluates Eye Diseases and Driving Performance

The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine is the first ophthalmology department in the country to feature a fully dedicated, high-fidelity, realistic driving simulator to evaluate the effects of visual impairment, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, on an individual's driving performance. The UC San Diego driving simulatorSource: UC San Diego Health System Newsroom Located in the Visual Performance Laboratory of the


Meet the Vision Institute and StreetLab: Vision Research, Simulations, and Education in Paris

During Vision Research Month, it gives me great pleasure to highlight the work of the Vision Institute of Paris and its subsidiary StreetLab. Both organizations are committed to ongoing vision research, with StreetLab featuring complementary and innovative outreach methods to enhance accessibility, inclusion, public awareness, and education. The Vision Institute of Paris (L'Institut de la Vision de Paris) Located in the center of Paris, the Vision Institute is an interdisciplinary research center that addresses eye diseases, vision loss, environmental modification, and daily living skills through the


Optogenetics: The Next Frontier in Vision Research? The Foundation Fighting Blindness Explains

June is Vision Research Month – a perfect time to highlight the innovative, cutting-edge research programs of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, headquartered in Columbia, Maryland. The urgent mission of the Foundation is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments, and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration,


New Research: Rethinking Charles Bonnet Syndrome and Visual Hallucinations

Charles Bonnet ("Bo-NAY") Syndrome (CBS) is a condition that causes vivid, complex, recurrent visual hallucinations, usually in older adults with later-life vision loss from eye conditions that can include macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. The visual hallucinations associated with CBS can range from animated, colorful, dreamlike images to less complicated


Is a "Treat and Extend" Injection Regimen More Beneficial for Wet Macular Degeneration?

The treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has – by all accounts – been revolutionized by the successful use of the injectable drugs Eylea, Lucentis, and Avastin. Yet, despite this treatment revolution, significant questions remain about the most effective dosing schedule for these medications: Is it monthly injections, a pro re nata [i.e., "as


New Research: Are Lucentis, Avastin, and Eylea Risk Factors for Increased Eye Pressure?

The injectable drugs Eylea, Lucentis, and Avastin have revolutionized the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Nevertheless, questions continue to arise regarding the risks and complications that accompany this delivery system. At present, these drugs require monthly injections or a pro re nata [i.e.,


Our Readers Want to Know: How Is a Vision Screening Different from a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Since the earliest days of VisionAware.org, the following questions about eye exams consistently rank within the top information searches: How can I keep my eyes healthy and prevent eye disease? What is the difference between a full eye examination and a shorter vision screening? About Healthy Vision Month During


Is It Possible to Predict Risk for Developing Macular Degeneration? A New Study Says Yes

When a close relative is diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), family members will often ask, "Will I get macular degeneration, too? What is the likelihood that this will happen to me? Is there any way to predict it?" A research group, composed of members from the United States and Australia, has attempted to answer those questions, via the development of a clinical eye-specific prediction model for advanced AMD. The researchers used eight predictors—age, sex, education level, race, smoking status, and the presence of pigment abnormality, soft


Why Do Some People Not Respond to Eye Injections for Macular Degeneration?

Although the advent of anti-VEGF therapy (explained below) has revolutionized the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are still a number of persons – although in the minority – who do not respond to treatment. It is these "non-responders" or "reduced responders" who continue to pose significant challenges to clinicians and researchers. Recently, a team of Japanese researchers attempted to identify a number of factors that could (a) predict non-response to intravitreal [i.e., into the eye] injections of Lucentis for wet AMD and (b) establish criteria


Meet the Discovery Eye Foundation and the Macular Degeneration Partnership

The Discovery Eye Foundation, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, has become an important ally of VisionAware.org, especially in the area of patient education for macular degeneration. The primary mission of the Discovery Eye Foundation is twofold: Funding cutting-edge research to find new treatments and cures for retinal and corneal eye diseases Empowering people with up-to-date, accurate information and personalized support through their component programs: the Macular Degeneration


A Potential Intravenous Treatment for Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Interleukin-18

A research group, composed of members from the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, has determined that a protein called interleukin-18 (IL-18), which is a component of the immune system linked to inflammatory disorders, has the ability to suppress production of the harmful bleeding/leaking blood vessels that characterize wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In addition, the researchers have demonstrated that IL-18 can be administered intravenously, which, if proven successful in human clinical trials, could offer advantages over the current treatment


A Continuing Clinical Trial for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

One of the most significant challenges facing eye and vision researchers is the development of an effective treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although there are now a number of well-regarded FDA-approved drug treatments for wet AMD, the key to effective dry AMD treatment remains elusive. Current treatments for dry AMD include a number of non-drug-related measures, including (a) nutritional supplements recommended by the Age-Related Eye Disease


New Research: Vision Loss from Advanced Macular Degeneration Remains "Progressive and Relentless"

The original Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), first launched in 1992, was a major clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute to (a) learn more about the history of, and risk factors for, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract and (b) evaluate the effect of high doses of antioxidants and zinc on the progression of AMD and cataract. Since that time, the ongoing AREDS trials have produced a number of breakthrough discoveries, including last


Meet the Authors of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight

This week, during National Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Low Vision Awareness Month, VisionAware is pleased to feature the definitive resource for patients and families who must grapple with the sometimes-shocking – and always difficult – diagnosis of AMD: Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight by Lylas G. Mogk, M.D. and Marja Mogk, Ph.D. About the Authors Lylas G. Mogk, M.D. Dr. Mogk is the


A Potential Eye Drop Treatment for Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration

Researchers have identified a possible topical [i.e., eye drop] treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that is capable of inhibiting the characteristic symptoms of both the dry and wet forms of AMD. This "proof of concept" research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory mice. Nevertheless, the concept of a possible topical treatment shows promise for persons with AMD. The study, entitled Topical


Newest Therapies for Macular Degeneration are Reducing Vision Loss and Admissions to Long-Term Care

Here is some good news during National Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month. Two economists from Duke University have presented evidence that within the past ten years, since the introduction of anti-VEGF therapies (Lucentis, Avastin, and Eylea), older Americans with "wet" or exudative macular degeneration are less likely to experience


Our Readers Want to Know: What Are the Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration?

Editor's note: One of the many benefits associated with an online information center and website, such as VisionAware, is the ability to track readers' search terms [i.e., information readers are seeking as they search the Internet]. Every month, questions about macular degeneration (AMD), including risks, treatments, and helpful resources, consistently rank among the top twenty queries: My husband and I both have macular degeneration What are the chances of my children inheriting our eye problems? Can the right diet help to prevent macular degeneration? An Answer from Lylas G. Mogk, M.D. <img src="/image.asp?ImageID=3558"


Can Gene Therapy Provide a Cure for Retinal Disease? An Early-Stage Clinical Trial Says "Maybe"

A group of international researchers from the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, and Portugal have used gene therapy in a clinical trial to treat a small group of male subjects with choroideremia, a rare degenerative eye disease. This early-stage clinical trial demonstrates potential for the use of gene therapy to treat a number of additional retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration. The research, entitled Retinal gene therapy in patients with choroideremia: initial


Researchers in the United Kingdom Create Viable Retinal Cells via Inkjet Printing Technology

Here is some interesting – and startling – scientific news as we enter 2014: Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom have used inkjet printing technology to successfully print retinal cells. The results provide "proof of concept" that an inkjet printer can be used to print two types of retinal cells from adult rats: ganglion cells and glial cells. Ganglion cells are a type of nerve cell that is found in the retina. Glia are non-nerve cells that provide support and protection for neurons in the brain and nervous system. This


New Research: Do Adults with Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma Stay Closer to Home?

Researchers from Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging have presented evidence that older Americans with age-related macular degeneration tend not to travel as far from home as older adults with unimpaired vision. This was not the case, however, among the study subjects with glaucoma, even though both conditions cause vision loss which generally makes travel more difficult. The research, entitled Alteration of Travel Patterns with Vision Loss from Glaucoma and Macular


A Home Monitoring Program for Age-Related Macular Degeneration: the ForeseeHome

The results of the HOme Monitoring of the Eye study, a subset of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), were presented last week at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in New Orleans, Louisiana, November 16-19, 2013. The study revealed that participants at high risk for developing wet (or neovascular) age-related macular degeneration (AMD) who used the ForeseeHome AMD


Is There an Association between Macular Degeneration and Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia?

A team of British researchers has determined that there is no positive association between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) Alzheimer's disease (AD) or dementia. The study findings do indicate, however, that people in England with dementia may be less likely to receive treatment for AMD. The research, entitled Associations between Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Alzheimer Disease, and Dementia: Record Linkage Study of Hospital Admissions, was published in the November 14, 2013 issue of


A MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award for Artificial Retina Research

Sheila Nirenberg, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist whose research is focused on the development of alternative approaches to restoring sight after photoreceptor cell degeneration. She is an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where she studies neural coding: how the brain takes information from the outside world and encodes it in patterns of electrical activity. What her work could mean for people with retinal disease, from macular degeneration and


Could the Loss of an Anti-Aging Gene Contribute to Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration?

A team of researchers has determined that the loss of a particular anti-aging, or aging-suppressor, gene – known as Klotho protein (KL) – induces retinal deterioration in mice and may contribute to both wet and dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The KL gene helps to protect against oxidative stress, which causes dry AMD, and inhibits harmful blood vessel growth in the eye, which is the primary cause of


When the Eyes Play Tricks: Charles Bonnet Syndrome Explains Visual Hallucinations in Those With Visual Impairments

Editor's note: Information about Charles Bonnet Syndrome is of major interest to our visitors. It is often misunderstood by people experiencing the visual hallucinations and by professionals. So Mary D'Apice, VisionAware peer adviser, decided to share Dolores's story to enlighten readers. Visual Hallucinations One night, 75-year-old Dolores woke up to find a huge tree growing beside her bed. Dolores is not a character out of a fiction story but one of many individuals who experience visual hallucinations brought on by vision loss. Dolores later learned


New Research Targets a Potential Cause of Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

A consortium of research groups from Finland, Italy, Germany, Hungary, and Saudi Arabia have provided laboratory evidence (via cell cultures and human tissue samples) that the degenerative changes characterizing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – specifically dry AMD, for which there is no current treatment or cure – are caused by impaired function of the body's cellular "digestion" and "clean-up" mechanism, called autophagy, in the retina. Autophagy, a basic biological and metabolic process, "self-eats" cellular


New Research to Curb Harmful Blood Vessel Growth in Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy

Researchers working in conjunction with the University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology have discovered a protein of previously unknown function (leucine-rich alpha-2-glycoprotein 1, or LRG1), which has been found to contribute to the growth of the harmful bleeding/leaking blood vessels that accompany age-related macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This research is in its earliest stages and has been


In Spain, Researchers Regenerate Retina in Mice: the Laboratory Results

Recently, I learned about a fascinating study in which researchers from the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, Spain have identified a pathway that triggers the reprogramming and regeneration of retinal neurons in the eye; in addition, they have regenerated mouse retinal tissue through cell reprogramming This research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory mice. Nevertheless, the concept shows great promise for persons with retinal disease. The study, entitled


A New Low Vision Publication from the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International

The Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI) has just published Insights into Low Vision, a compilation of tools, tips, techniques, and research updates for peer advocates, family members, professionals, and individuals with low vision. Here is more information about this much-needed publication from the CCLVI website: CCLVI's new publication, Insights into Low Vision … has articles by 26 authors, all nationally-known specialists in


VisionExchange: A Support Group for Support Group Leaders by Guest Blogger Polly Abbott, CVRT

In honor of Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) Appreciation Week (June 23-29), VisionAware is featuring the work of talented VRTs throughout the United States. Polly Abbott is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT), an Orientation and Mobility Specialist with a background in education, and Director of Rehabilitation Services at Second Sense in Chicago,


Eylea May Help When Patients Do not Respond to Lucentis or Avastin for Macular Degeneration

A new study, published "online first" on May 23, 2013 in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, concludes that Eylea therapy appears to be beneficial in a specific group of patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) whose symptoms are not responsive to either Lucentis or Avastin injections. The


New Report: Dietary Supplements (AREDS Vitamins) and Their Effect on Macular Degeneration

A highly-anticipated study, published "online first" in the May 2013 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association has concluded that adding omega-3 fatty acids (such as those found in fish oil) had no effect on the formulation, while the addition of lutein and zeaxanthin together appeared to offer a safe and effective alternative to the beta-carotene that was contained in the original AREDS formulation) commonly recommended for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration


Low Vision Rehabilitation for Persons with Macular Degeneration and Mild Cognitive Deficits

A new study, published "online first" in the April 2013 issue of JAMA Ophthalmology (formerly Archives of Ophthalmology), demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of a low vision rehabilitation program for patients with macular disease who also have mild cognitive deficits. JAMA Ophthalmology is an international peer-reviewed journal published monthly by the American Medical Association (AMA), and is part of the


In Europe, a New Radiation Therapy for Wet Macular Degeneration Reduces Need for Lucentis Injections

Oraya Therapeutics, Inc. has released the results of its INTREPID clinical trial evaluating the safety and effectiveness of Oraya Therapy Stereotactic Radiotherapy for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The results indicate that a single dose of Oraya Therapy significantly reduces the need for Lucentis injections in persons with wet AMD, with


Meet Alice Lynch: Artist and Designer from Braille Design: Custom Braille Jewelry

It gives me immense pleasure to introduce you to the work of the talented artist and designer Alice Woodside Lynch, who hails from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Alice describes herself as "Navy veteran, cat lover, comics reader, textile artist, jewelry designer, braille enthusiast, and champion of the downtrodden." She is the proprietor of, and creative force behind, Braille Design: Custom Braille Jewelry and Gifts and Brailletshirts.com: Custom-Made Braille T-Shirts. Initially, I met "Alice the cat lover" via Twitter


Developments in Stem Cell Therapy for Macular Disease

Since November 2010, I have been following Advanced Cell Technology's (ACT) quest to implement successful clinical trials for macular eye disease, using human embryonic stem cells. ACT's U.S. and European Phase I/II clinical trials each involve a total of 12 patients, in groups of three (also called cohorts). The first group/cohort received a dosage of 50,000 cells, the second will receive 100,000 cells, the third will receive 150,000 cells and the final group/cohort will be dosed with 200,000 cells. The Most Recent Clinical Trial On April 15, 2013, ACT announced treatment of the first


myVisionTrack: An At-Home App for Monitoring Eye Disease Receives FDA Clearance

myVisionTrack™ is a hand-held, prescription-only medical device, provided as an app for the iPhone 4S, that has received clearance by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on March 24, 2013 to be marketed as an at-home method for monitoring the progression of degenerative eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The myVisionTrack™ medical device is produced by Vital Art and Science (VAS),


Targeting Cholesterol Buildup in the Eye May Help Slow Age-Related Macular Degeneration

A new study, published on April 2, 2013 as a "freely available featured article" in the journal Cell Metabolism, indicates that lowering the levels of cholesterol in the eye could possibly prevent the growth of blood vessels that cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study was conducted with animal models (i.e., mice) and immune cells taken from human subjects with AMD. The researchers hope to conduct clinical trials with human subjects within the next five years.


Which Real-Life Factors Influence Adherence to Lucentis Treatment for Macular Degeneration?

A recent study, published in Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, has attempted to "identify factors and problems influencing treatment adherence in patients undergoing anti-VEGF therapy for neovascular age-related macular degeneration under real-life conditions." Graefe's Archive is an international journal that presents original clinical reports and experimental studies by ophthalmologists and vision research scientists in order to provide rapid


My Journey into Ophthalmology by Guest Blogger Irv Arons

Guest blogger Irv Arons is the creator of – and driving force behind – Irv Arons' Journal, an online compendium of the latest information on ophthalmics, medical lasers, and new drugs and devices for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Until his retirement in 2005, Irv was a consultant to the ophthalmic industry for over 30 years, and to the medical laser industry for over 20 years. I have been following Irv's informative blog for several years, and have great respect for his depth and breadth of knowledge regarding developments in stem cell therapy, gene therapy, and emerging


The Genetics of Age-Related Macular Degeneration are Detailed in a New Study

A new study, published on March 3, 2013 as an "Advance Online Publication" by the journal Nature Genetics, has identified seven new regions of the human genome (i.e., the complete set of genes contained in the human body) that are associated with an increased risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Nature Genetics publishes current genetic research, with an emphasis on the genetic basis for common and complex diseases. About the Research


Can High Levels of Inflammation Predict Future Risk for Macular Degeneration?

A new study, published "online first" in the February 2013 issue of JAMA Ophthalmology (formerly Archives of Ophthalmology), concludes that there is evidence that elevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein correlate with an increased future risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). C-reactive protein is a substance, produced by the liver, that increases when inflammation is present throughout the body. Increasingly, inflammation is thought to be a key risk factor for AMD. JAMA


A New Low Vision Resource from the National Eye Institute

The National Eye Institute (NEI) has released a 20-page, full-color, large print booklet with companion videos, in support of Low Vision Awareness Month, February 2013. The booklet and videos were developed by NEI's National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP). The mission of NEI, a part of the National Institutes of Health, is to "conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health


Advancing Laboratory Treatments into Human Studies by Dr. Stephen Rose, Foundation Fighting Blindness

Stephen Rose, Ph.D., is the Chief Research Officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc.. The urgent mission of the Foundation is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments, and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases. Dr. Rose's essay, entitled "Found in Translation: Taking on the Challenge of Advancing Treatments into Human Studies," appears in the Winter 2013 edition of


Positive Phase III Clinical Trial Results for Totally Blind Persons with Sleep Disorders

On January 23, 2013, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced positive Phase III clinical trial results from the recently completed Randomized-withdrawal study of the Efficacy and Safety of Tasimelteon (RESET) study; in addition, on December 18, 2012, Vanda announced positive Phase III clinical trial results from the Safety and Efficacy of Tasimelteon (SET) study. Tasimelteon is an experimental drug treatment for totally blind individuals with no light perception who experience a sleep problem called "Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder." In the United States, this disorder affects approximately 65,000 totally blind


A Response to The New York Times: Macular Degeneration Does not Equal Despair and Devastation

On December 15, 2012, The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, which provides direct assistance to children, families, and older adults in New York, featured a profile of 78-year-old graphic artist Margie Jones, entitled A Disease Threatens a Woman's Eyesight and Art. Ms. Jones, who has had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a hereditary collagen disorder, since 1976, learned that she had


A Nationwide Study Is Investigating Genetic and Other Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

Researchers at the Jules Stein Eye Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles are continuing to recruit participants for a nationwide study investigating the heredity and exposure risk factors that lead to the development of age-related macular degeneration. The GARM II Study The goal of the Genetics of Age-Related Maculopathy (GARM II) Study is:


Fear of Falling, Eye Disease, and Limitations in Daily Activities: They're All Related

Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the official journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), has published yet another thought-provoking study about the real-life ramifications of adult-onset vision loss. The Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology Activity Limitation Due To a Fear of Falling in Older Adults with Eye Disease was published in the December 3, 2012 online edition of


The Latest Developments in Stem Cell Therapy for Macular Disease

Since November 2010, I have been following Advanced Cell Technology's (ACT) quest to implement successful clinical trials for macular eye disease, using human embryonic stem cells. ACT's U.S. and European Phase I/II clinical trials each involve a total of 12 patients, in groups of three (also called cohorts). The first group/cohort received a dosage of 50,000 cells, the second will receive 100,000 cells, the third will receive 150,000 cells and the final group/cohort will be dosed with 200,000 cells. ACT also has announced that Scotland's NHS Lothian


Digital Tablets Can Improve Speed and Ease of Reading for People with Moderate Vision Loss

An innovative new study exploring the potential of the iPad and other back-lighted digital tablet devices to increase the reading ability and reading speed of persons with low vision was presented at the 2012 American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, held from November 10-13 in Chicago, Illinois. The study, conducted at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey and led by associate clinical professor Daniel Roth, M.D., concluded that subjects with


Phase II Clinical Trial to Begin: Squalamine Eye Drops for Wet Macular Degeneration

Ohr Pharmaceutical, Inc. has announced that it is commencing Phase II clinical trials to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of its Squalamine Eye Drops as a potential treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The Phase II study will enroll 120 participants at 21 clinical ophthalmology centers


Charles Bonnet Syndrome: My Personal and Professional Journey

This past week, I found myself involved in an interesting Twitter discussion about Charles Bonnet ("Bo-NAY") Syndrome (CBS), a condition that causes vivid, complex, recurrent visual hallucinations, usually (but not solely) in older adults with later-life vision loss. The "visual hallucinations" associated with CBS can range from animated, colorful, dreamlike images to less complicated visions of people, animals, vehicles, houses, and


A Potential New Drug for Macular Degeneration, Now in Clinical Trials

Allergan, Inc. has entered Phase IIb clinical trials for experimental drug AGN-150998 as a potential treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), specifically as an injectable medication designed to inhibit abnormal retinal blood vessel growth (i.e., an anti-VEGF treatment, explained below). Allergan, Inc. is a multi-specialty health care company focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing innovative pharmaceuticals, biologics, and medical


More Follow-Up To the Coping with Vision Loss Study

As always, it's highly informative to follow up with VisionAware author Kaye Olson, the coordinator of the Coping with Vision Loss Study, which investigated the wide range of coping strategies used by adults and older adults who are blind, visually impaired, or have low vision. Following Up: The Field Responds Several weeks ago, I blogged about the follow-up


Documentary Film "Going Blind" To Have September Capitol Hill Screening for US Legislators

Meet filmmaker Joe Lovett, friend of VisionAware and producer/director of Going Blind: Coming out of the Dark about Vision Loss, a stunning and moving documentary film created to increase public awareness of blindness, vision loss, and the vision rehabilitation system. Going Blind is also Joe's personal story of his ongoing struggle with glaucoma and his sometimes-difficult journey through the "secret world," as he


The FDA Approves Lucentis for Diabetic Macular Edema

Here is excellent news for individuals who have diabetes and associated diabetic macular edema: On August 10, 2012, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Genetech's Lucentis (generic name ranibizumab) for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME). In its approval announcement, the FDA noted that Lucentis is for use in persons with "good diabetic sugar control" and is designed to be given once a month as an injection into the eye by a qualified health care professional. About Diabetic Macular Edema


Using Microneedles To Deliver Drugs to the Retina: Helpful for Macular Degeneration?

Using a Microneedle for Drug Delivery to the Posterior Segment of the Eye was published in the July 2012 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the official journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). ARVO is an international organization that encourages and assists research, training, publication, and dissemination of knowledge in vision and ophthalmology, including low


Tracking the Latest Developments in Stem Cell Therapy for Macular Disease

Since November 2010, I have been following Advanced Cell Technology's (ACT) quest to implement successful clinical trials for macular eye disease, using human embryonic stem cells. Here is an update of ACT's progress to date: Moorfields Eye Hospital On July 27, 2012, ACT announced the treatment of the third patient in its European Phase I/II clinical trials for Stargardt's disease, using retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. The most recent surgery was performed at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London,


Avastin and Lucentis for Macular Degeneration: Head-to-Head Once Again

Year Two results from the Comparison of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Treatments Trials (CATT) that evaluated the effectiveness of Avastin (bevacizumab) versus Lucentis (ranibizumab) in a head-to-head clinical trial are now available. CATT is a multi-center, prospective clinical trial, funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI), a component agency


Avastin and Lucentis: Cardiovascular Risks? A New Canadian Study Says No

Last week, I read yet another intriguing research study regarding the age-related macular degeneration (AMD) drugs Lucentis and Avastin. The newly-released Canadian study investigated the risk of cardiovascular events [i.e., heart attack, congestive heart failure, blood clotting, and stroke] in patients who were receiving either Avastin or Lucentis injections for retinal disease. I've blogged about research results involving both drug treatments on a number of occasions, including


Another Potential "Eye Drop" Treatment for (Dry) Macular Degeneration

MacuCLEAR, Inc. has announced that it is commencing Phase III clinical trials for MC-1101, its topical [i.e., eye drop] drug for the treatment of early-stage dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), based on positive feedback during the company's end-of-Phase II meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Recently, I also reported on another eye drop treatment in


More VisionAware Blogroll Love!

It's time for some VisionAware blogroll love once again. As I explained in my introductory "blogroll love" post, … the VisionAware "blind bloggers" collective has migrated from the former VisionAware.org website to the sidebar of the new VisionAware blog. It's a marvelous way to position my favorite bloggers front-and-center for our ever-growing audience. You'll discover great writing there – and not only about blindness. My favorite


A New Website from the National Institutes of Health: Clinical Research Trials and You

From a press release from the National Institutes of Health (NIH): The National Institutes of Health has created a new website, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn more about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. From the first cure of a solid tumor with chemotherapy to the use of nitroglycerin in response to heart attacks, clinical research trials – or research studies involving people – have played a vital role in improving health and quality of life for people around the


FDA Approves EYLEA™ for the Treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration

Anatomy of the EYLEA™ Drug Approval Process In February 2011, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that the company had submitted a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Regeneron's VEGF Trap-Eye (now called EYLEA™), a potential injectable drug treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The FDA next announced


The Chronic Care for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Study and Quality of Life

As our readers know, I always like to look outside the United States for professional inspiration. This week, I read about a most interesting study/trial that is being conducted in Switzerland. The Chronic Care for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Study (CHARMED) is an ongoing clinical trial that employs the Chronic Care Model as its primary


A New Clinical Trial for Patients Who Do not Respond to Lucentis or Avastin for Macular Degeneration

This week, I learned about a new clinical trial for a drug that shows promise in the treatment of wet macular degeneration (AMD) in patients who have not responded to treatment with either Avastin or Lucentis, the two drug interventions most commonly used at present. The drug is called iSONEP™ and it has been created by Lpath, a San Diego, California-based pharmaceutical


Could Avastin and Lucentis Trigger Elevated Eye Pressure?

The August 2011 issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology contains an article that caught my attention. In the article, entitled Sustained elevation of intraocular pressure after intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF agents (Translation: Sustained high pressure within the eye after injection with Avastin or Lucentis), the authors investigated several critical issues surrounding the longer-term safety of Lucentis and Avastin, injectable drugs used to treat macular degeneration. Some Background


Stem Cells for Stargardt's Disease

Wow. This is surprising – and groundbreaking – news. First, here's some background: In August of this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Judge Royce Lamberth of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. had issued a preliminary injunction against federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. The judge stated that federal funding violated a 1996 law prohibiting federal money for research in which a human embryo was destroyed. Many federally funded stem cell research projects were placed on "clinical hold"


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