Browse By Topic: Health

November Is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month: Learn More About Diabetes and Your Eyes

A retina withdiabetic retinopathy November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, which aims to increase awareness of diabetes and diabetic eye disease and encourage people with diabetes to seek treatment for vision problems related to diabetes. You can learn more about diabetes at What Is Diabetes? and ¿Qué es la diabetes? at VisionAware. According to


World Sight Day 2017: Learn More About "Avoidable Blindness" and Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Examination

World Sight Day is an international "day of awareness," coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). The purpose of World Site Day is to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. It is held each year on the second Thursday of October. This year, World Sight Day will be held on October 12, 2017, with the theme of Universal Eye Health. Important Messages on World Sight Day These are the key international messages for World Sight Day


During Eye Injury Prevention Month: Beware of Cosmetic Contact Lenses and Scleral Tattoos

Every year, during Eye Injury Prevention and Halloween Safety Month, I begin to get questions from friends and colleagues about the safety of decorative (also called "cosmetic," "circle," "costume," or "non-prescription") contact lenses. For the uninitiated, "circle lenses," which first became popular in Asia about 10 years ago, are contact lenses that give the wearer a doll-eyed or doe-eyed "innocent" look: Venus Palermo, the "Human Barbie Doll" What are Circle or Cosmetic Contact Lenses? Here is more information about circle lenses from


During Healthy Aging Month, Learn More About Older Adult Eye Health and Low Vision from the National Eye Institute

According to the United States National Eye Institute, "Older adults are at higher risk for certain eye diseases and conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma,


The FDA Officially Cracks Down on Stem Cell Clinics Offering Unproven and Dangerous Treatments

On Monday, August 28, 2017, Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced a crackdown on stem cell clinics offering unproven and potentially dangerous treatments. Commissioner Gottlieb stated that he "will not allow deceitful actors to take advantage of vulnerable patients by purporting to have treatments or cures for serious diseases without any proof that they actually work." You can read Dr. Gottlieb's full stem cell statement at Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. on the FDA's new policy steps and enforcement efforts to ensure proper oversight of stem cell therapies and regenerative


A New Eye Health Awareness Program from the National Eye Institute Designed Specifically for African American Consumers: Write the Vision

A growing body of diabetes, vision, and health care research indicates that significant disparities in the quality and equity of eye care exist throughout the United States, specifically within African American patient communities. This research includes evaluating the disparities in screening rates for diabetic retinopathy among minority patients, examining


New Research: Medicaid Recipients with Glaucoma Receive Substantially Less Testing Than Persons with Commercial Health Insurance

Glaucoma often is called "the sneak thief of sight" for good reason: Many people are unaware that glaucoma has few symptoms or warning signs in its early stages. Early treatment for glaucoma can usually (but not always) slow the progression of the disease. However, as of yet, there is no cure for glaucoma. Because glaucoma has no obvious initial symptoms and is a chronic condition that must be managed for life, regular comprehensive dilated eye exams, consistent monitoring, and


A Class-Action Lawsuit Against CVS Yields a Decision: Not All Eye Health and Macular Degeneration Supplements Are Equally Effective

Many VisionAware readers write to us, inquiring about the effectiveness of supplements for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Many readers also request clarification of the claims made by companies that produce a now-staggering array of eye health supplements: Do these supplements cure AMD? Do they slow its progression? Can they prevent it from developing? Do they match the recommendations of the landmark


Re-Imagining Health Care for the 21st Century: With Value and Access for All?

By Ann Pilewskie, AFB Public Policy Intern, guest blogger Health Care. Such loaded words these days. ACA, AHCA, BCRA, Private Insurance, Medicaid, Medicarewhat does all of this mean? Of course, it means different things to different people. If you are covered by your employer, generally that is a good thing. If you are covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for those who never had insurance for a multitude of reasons, it is a good thing. For those whose premiums have skyrocketed, pay large


New Research: Combat-Related Blast Exposure Can Result in Prolonged Retinal Injury, Even in the Absence of Detectable Brain Changes

According to VisionAware's Gregory L. Goodrich, Ph.D., writing about combat-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its effect on vision: "... It can be argued that … it took the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to highlight the fact that head injury often leads to visual loss and/or visual dysfunctions. These wars have resulted in over 253,000 traumatic brain injuries (TBI). How many of these TBIs resulted in vision loss or dysfunction is not known." "Kevin Fricke has estimated that


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:


New Research: Ebola Survivors Have Ongoing Risk of Eye Disease, Even When the Initial Outbreak Has Concluded

Although worldwide attention was focused on the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, considerably less attention – until now – has been paid to the eye and vision complications resulting from the disease. This month, a group of researchers from the United States, Liberia, and Uganda have published data describing the ocular findings, visual impairment, and associated complications of Ebola in a group of survivors in Monrovia, Liberia. They conclude that "survivors of Ebola virus disease (EVD) are at risk for uveitis (explained below), which may lead to eye


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


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


Have Diabetes? Education, Guidance, and Support Are Essential

The American Diabetes Association celebrates American Diabetes Awareness every November and this year the theme is #This is Diabetes. The 2016 campaign seeks to showcase real-life stories of the 29 million Americans managing the day-to-day triumphs and challenges of diabetes to raise awareness and to create a sense of urgency about this public health concern. Their mission is to empower, educate, and support people living with diabetes in order to improve health outcomes and quality of life.


Meet Alan R. Morse, J.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Lighthouse Guild

Alan R. Morse, J.D., Ph.D. Alan R. Morse is President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York- and New York State-based Lighthouse Guild, which provides a full spectrum of integrated vision + healthcare services helping people with vision loss, including those with multiple disabilities or chronic medical conditions. His professional interests include the influence of vision loss on health care utilization, functional implications of vision loss, and communication issues in patient-centered care delivery. Dr. Morse is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of


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


Our Readers Want to Know: What Causes Floaters and Should I Be Worried About Them?

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 the presence and disease implications of floaters, as evidenced by the following searches: Do floaters go away after a while? I've had a sudden onset of a shower of floaters. What does this mean? I have floaters after laser treatment/eye injection/eye surgery. Is this a problem? Can floaters cause a retinal tear? An Answer from Mrinali Patel Gupta, M.D. <img


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


My Journey: Coping with Dry Eye Syndrome

Holly applying her eye drops July is Dry Eye Disease Awareness Month! Dry eye disease is one of the most common eye problems affecting people today. Although the actual prevalence of dry eye is difficult to determine, due to varying definitions of the disease, the National Eye Institute, in Facts about Dry Eye, estimates that "… five million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye. Of these, more than three million are women and more than one and a half million are men. Tens of millions more have less severe


New Research: Results from the Philadelphia Glaucoma Detection and Treatment Project

New glaucoma research, initially presented at the American Glaucoma Society 24th Annual Meeting, concludes that targeting individuals at risk for glaucoma in underserved communities – in this case, Philadelphia – can yield a high detection rate of glaucoma-related diagnoses. The authors conclude that "providing examinations and offering treatment at community-based sites providing services to older adults are effective ways to improve access to eye care by underserved


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


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


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


Glaucoma News: Researchers Convert Stem Cells into Retinal Ganglion Cells for Future Targeted Glaucoma Treatment

Using stem cells derived from human skin cells, university researchers from Indiana and Connecticut have demonstrated the ability to turn stem cells into retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which are the neurons that conduct visual information from the eye to the brain. Their research goal is ultimately to develop therapies that can prevent, slow down, or cure the degenerative processes that accompany glaucoma and other optic nerve injuries. Please note: Although this stem cell research has produced interesting results thus far, it is in its very earliest stages 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


New Research: Significant Disparities Exist in Screening Rates for Diabetic Retinopathy among Minority Patients

New diabetes research from the University of California at Los Angeles indicates that there is a pronounced disparity in diabetic retinopathy screening rates between Hispanic and African American patients. Compared with Hispanic patients, African American patients were screened 50% less often in the previous year, despite reporting similar barriers to screening, similar awareness that diabetes may lead to diabetic retinopathy, and the same likelihood of receiving physician recommendation for diabetic retinopathy


New Research on Marijuana Use for Glaucoma: Is Education Enough, or Is Emotional Support also Necessary?

New glaucoma research from The George Washington University in Washington, DC indicates that the factors associated with patients' intentions to use marijuana for glaucoma include their perceptions of the legality of marijuana use as well as satisfaction (or not) with their current standard of glaucoma care. The researchers conclude that patients need to be educated about marijuana and its specific effects on glaucoma, which they note is not supported by scientific evidence. In an editorial response to the research, however, two


New Survey: Less than Half of United States Adults with Diabetes Understand Their Risk for Vision Loss

A new survey released this month by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. reveals that less than half of recently surveyed United States adults with diabetes recognize their risk for vision loss. Regeneron is a science-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, invents, develops, manufactures, and commercializes medicines for the treatment of serious medical conditions. [Please note: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which commissioned this survey, is also the developer of the injectable drug EYLEA,


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


How Can We Improve Compliance with Glaucoma Medication Regimens? New Research Advocates Team-Based Care, Similar to Diabetes

New glaucoma research from the University of Michigan indicates that patterns of adherence to glaucoma medication regimens, both positive and negative, that are established during the first year tend to persist over time. According to the research team, these results suggest that "investing resources in both identifying and helping patients with [less than optimal] adherence patterns over the first year may have a large impact on longer-term adherence." "If we can increase people's contact with the healthcare system in new ways — it doesn't


The White House Conference on Aging Issues and Initiatives: Part Three

Guest blogger Priscilla (Pris) Rogers, Ph.D. is the Program Manager for VisionAware and co-author of Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families. Her other works include Self-Advocacy Skills Training for Older Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired and Solutions for Success: A Training Manual for Working with Older People Who Are Visually Impaired. She has an M.A. degree in gerontology and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in vision and aging. In


The White House Conference on Aging Issues and Initiatives: Part Two

Guest blogger Priscilla (Pris) Rogers, Ph.D. is the Program Manager for VisionAware and co-author of Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families. Her other works include Self-Advocacy Skills Training for Older Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired and Solutions for Success: A Training Manual for Working with Older People Who Are Visually Impaired. She has an M.A. degree in gerontology and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in vision and aging. In


Ways to Make Monitoring Blood Sugar Easier, More Accurate, and Less Costly: Part 5 in a Series

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 retinitis pigmentosa and continued to work as a nurse for 30 years with her visual impairment. She has worked as an Adjustment to Blindness


Exercising Safely With Diabetes: Part 4 in a Series

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 retinitis pigmentosa and continued to work as a nurse for 30 years with her visual impairment. She has worked as an Adjustment to Blindness


Calling All Advocates: White House Conference on Aging Set for July 13, 2015

Guest blogger Priscilla Rogers, Ph.D. is the Program Manager for VisionAware and co-author of Aging and Vision Loss: A Handbook for Families. Her other works include Self-Advocacy Skills Training for Older Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired and Solutions for Success: A Training Manual for Working with Older People Who Are Visually Impaired. She has an M.A. degree in gerontology and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in vision and aging. The 2015 White House Conference on


Healthy Eating with Diabetes: Part 3 in a Series

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 retinitis pigmentosa and continued to work as a nurse for 30 years with her visual impairment. She has worked as an Adjustment to Blindness


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


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Difference Between an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist?

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 doctors and eye care consistently rank within the top ten searches and are especially relevant during Healthy Vision Month: What are the different kinds of eye doctors? What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist? Ophthalmology and Ophthalmologists <img


Maintaining Your Ocular Lenses Helps Ensure Longevity and Enjoyment

Editor's note: As we end Women's Eye Health and Safety Month, Empish Thomas talks about the cosmetic reasons for her choice to wear ocular lenses and the vital importance of properly caring for them. Decision to Wear Ocular Lenses In 2012, I made a radical decision, to stop wearing dark sunglasses and start wearing ocular lenses. It was a huge step for me because I had been wearing sunglasses for such a long time. But I felt it was the right decision. I wanted to do it because of cosmetic reasons. I wanted my face to have a more natural look and I wanted to feel better about my appearance. My decision had nothing really to do with any medical problems I was having with my


Experiencing The Magic of Eye Makeup While Practicing Eye Safety

The Magic of Eye Makeup Oh, the wonders of makeup. It's one of those things that from the time we are young girls we cannot wait to get glammed up with cosmetics. The use of lipstick, blush, mascara, and eye shadow is not only transformative; it's almost magical. But did you know there are dangers lurking in your cosmetics arsenal, especially when it comes to your eyes? The Past and Present of Eye Makeup "Eyes are captivatingly beautiful. Not because of the color but because of the words they hold within them." This quote from an unknown author speaks


Diabetes and the Significance of the A1c Test: Part 2 in a Series

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 retinitis pigmentosa and continued to work as a nurse for 30 years with her visual impairment. She has worked as an Adjustment to Blindness


Diabetes Education Can Help You Lower Your Blood Sugars and Reduce the Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy: Part 1 in a Series

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 retinitis pigmentosa and continued to work as a nurse for 30 years with her visual impairment. She has worked as an Adjustment to Blindness


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: Uveitis, an Inflammatory Eye Disease, May Signal the Onset of Multiple Sclerosis

Several research projects addressing inflammation as a source of eye disease have received attention recently. In the genetic arena, European researchers investigating the link between inflammation and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) identified a protein, called FHL-1, that functions as a "regulator" to protect the eye from immune system attacks. And last month, at the 2014


New CDC Research Investigates the Association Between Vision Loss and Quality of Life

A major new study from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has investigated the association between visual impairment and health-related quality of life among adults aged 65 and older. The research concludes that poor health-related quality of life is strongly associated with the severity of self-reported visual impairment among people aged 65 and older who participated in the study. Participants who reported "moderate/severe" visual impairment showed a strong, consistent association with poor health-related quality of life.


The True Ice Bucket Challenge: Never Saying "There's Nothing More that Can Be Done"

As the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association's Ice Bucket Challenge winds down, I can't help but regret that my friend Arthur (Artie) Kraemer (February 12, 1960 - June 12, 2012), who succumbed to ALS, didn't live to see the outpouring of support for the disease (a progressive, incurable neurodegenerative disorder) that claimed his life. Artie was totally disabled from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and was,


Google's Prototype "Smart Contact Lens": Measuring Blood Glucose Levels for People with Diabetes

Earlier this year, Google unveiled a prototype "smart" contact lens to monitor blood glucose levels contained in human tears. The Smart Contact Lens Project, which had been percolating in the top-secret Google X lab for several years, debuted a potential, although long-term, solution for effective blood glucose control in people with diabetes. January 2014: Google Unveils the Smart Contact Lens Here is an excerpt from the January 2014 announcement, via the official


Alzheimer Research: Cataract Surgery for People with Dementia Improves Vision and Quality of Life

Results from a new clinical trial, presented at the July 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference, suggest that cataract surgery may slow mental decline in people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Preliminary study results indicate that improved vision, resulting from cataract surgery, can have a variety of benefits – both visual and non-visual – for people with dementia. The


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


Vanda Receives FDA Approval for Hetlioz, First Drug to Regulate Sleep Patterns of Blind People

On January 31, 2014, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved Hetlioz™ (tasimelteon) 20 mg. capsules for the treatment of "Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder" (Non-24). Hetlioz is the first FDA-approved medication for Non-24. Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (Non-24) is a serious, rare circadian rhythm disorder that affects a majority of totally blind individuals who lack light perception and cannot reset their master body clocks to the 24-hour day. In the United States, this disorder affects approximately 80,000 totally blind individuals who lack the light sensitivity necessary to


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


Accessibility Barriers in Medical and Health Care for People with Vision Loss: Real Issues, Real Problems

Last year, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) released a report documenting significant violations of federal accessibility requirements at hospitals, doctors' offices, and pharmacies across the nation. The report, entitled Ill-Prepared: Health Care's Barriers for People with Disabilities, reveals that fewer than 25% of medical service providers tested in the report were compliant with accessibility standards required under federal law. The Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit


A New Diabetes Training Course for Community Health Workers from the National Eye Institute

The National Eye Institute (NEI) has released the Diabetes and Healthy Eyes Toolkit, which includes a free interactive online training course for community health workers. The online course, which was developed by NEI's National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP), teaches participants how to lead an educational session for people who have diabetes. The course uses animations, interactive features, and quizzes to provide information about the anatomy of the eye, the effects 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


The FDA's Division of Drug Information Provides Phone and E-Mail Assistance

I discovered this helpful resource via a tip from the Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) Listserv. I hope you'll find this helpful too. From a January 23, 2013 FDA press release: From their offices in Silver Spring, Maryland, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pharmacists answer thousands of calls to 1-888-INFO-FDA each year. The FDA Division of Drug Information Twenty-five pharmacists and other experts who work in FDA's


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


New Research Explores the Health Implications of Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion

A recent study from Denmark has broken new ground in understanding the underlying causes and health implications of branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO), a serious eye disorder and common cause of vision loss that affects 13.9 million persons (primarily older adults) worldwide. About Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion As defined by PubMed Health, a retinal vein occlusion is a blockage [i.e., "occlusion"] of the small veins that carry blood away from the


Losing Patience with Being a Patient by Stephanie Stephens Van

Guest blogger Stephanie Stephens Van has lectured nationally on adapted crafts and leisure activities; adjustment to blindness and low vision; functional vision skills; and activities of daily living. Stephanie is a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, a Low Vision Therapist, and an adjunct instructor at the Salus University College of Education and Rehabilitation.


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


Updates On a Clinical Trial for Totally Blind Individuals with Sleep Disorders

Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company in Rockville, MD, is continuing to recruit study participants for a Phase III clinical trial of 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 individuals who lack the light sensitivity necessary to reset their internal "body clocks." About the Study


Are Memory Problems Linked to Eye Disease and Diabetes?

Two recent studies suggest that memory loss and cognitive decline may be linked to (a) diabetes, (b) poor control of blood sugar levels by persons with diabetes, and/or (c) damage to retinal blood vessels, called retinopathy. What is Retinopathy? Retinopathy is a general term that describes damage to the retina, which is the thin, light-sensitive tissue that lines the inside surface of the eye. Nerve cells in the retina convert


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


Aspirin Use May (or May not) Be Associated with Increased Risk of AMD

During the past month, I've been bombarded with newsfeeds proclaiming, "Aspirin Is Proven to Cause Macular Degeneration!" or some variation thereof. However, as I investigated, I discovered that these headlines tended to overstate the certainty of the study's findings and create a sense of alarm regarding aspirin and macular degeneration. So let's take a factual look at the study, along with an interpretation of the study's findings. The study in question, entitled


What Can Twins Teach Us About Macular Degeneration?

A recently published study of United States identical male twins indicates that eating a diet high in vitamin D, as well as the nutrients betaine and methionine, might help reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Betaine is found in fish, grains, and spinach, while methionine is found in poultry, fish, and dairy foods. The study, entitled Smoking, Dietary


Avastin vs. Lucentis for AMD: Preliminary Research Results

Preliminary results from the highly anticipated Comparison of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Treatments Trials (CATT) that tested the effectiveness of Avastin (bevacizumab) versus Lucentis (ranibizumab) in a head-to-head clinical trial are now available. CATT is a multi-center, prospective


Stem Cell Therapy for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Once again, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) is in the news with yet another potential advance in stem cell therapy for macular disease, in this case for the dry form of macular degeneration. To better understand this latest development, here is background information from my prior blog post about ACT's initial stem cell therapy trial for Stargardt


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