Browse By Topic: Medical Updates

New Research: Two Potential Treatments for Dry Macular Degeneration and Geographic Atrophy

A retina with dry AMD 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 a number of well-regarded FDA-approved drug treatments for wet AMD, the key to effective dry AMD treatment continues to be elusive.


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


Can a New Type of Blood Test Identify Macular Degeneration Much Earlier? New Research Says Yes

New research led by the AMD Center of Excellence at Harvard Medical School, the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and Brigham and Women's Hospital has used an emerging field of study, called "metabolomics" (explained below), to test patients' blood and identify blood profiles that are associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to study co-author Joan W. Miller, M.D., "With metabolomics, we can identify blood profiles associated with AMD and its severity through laboratory testing. Because the signs and symptoms of early-stage


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


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


Readers Beware: Are All Clinical Trials Legitimate? Learn What to Look for and How to Protect Yourself

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


The Reality and Costs of Gene Therapy for Eye Disease: Who Will (or Can) Pay?

As our readers know, VisionAware is committed to providing current and reliable information about eye and vision research that is relevant to adults and older adults, many of whom experience late-life vision loss resulting in low vision. During the past several years, gene therapy has gained traction and offers promise for treating (but not yet curing) a range of eye diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa,


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


Is It Possible to Identify and Treat Cell Damage from Glaucoma Much Earlier in the Course of the Disease? New Research Says Maybe

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 sometimes (but not always) slow the progression of the disease. However, as of yet, there is no cure for glaucoma. Now, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a biomarker (explained below) that seems to be linked to cell damage in the eye from glaucoma. According to study co-author Rajendra S. Apte, M.D., Ph.D.,


The FDA Approves Lucentis for the Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy

A retina with diabeticretinopathy On April 17, 2017, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval to the injectable drug Lucentis (generic name ranibizumab) for the treatment of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), a serious vision-related complication of diabetes. Previously, the FDA approved Lucentis for the treatment of diabetic


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


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


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 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


January Is National Glaucoma Awareness Month: Learn More About Glaucoma and Current Treatments

National Glaucoma Awareness Month provides a perfect opportunity to learn more about glaucoma, a leading cause of vision loss that affects more than 3 million people in the United States. 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, a


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 from Google Labs: Using Machine Learning to Detect Diabetic Eye Disease

The highly regarded Research Labs at Google are charged with "tackling the most challenging problems in computer science and related fields," including eye care and ophthalmology. A groundbreaking project, announced in 2014 and still in development, was the creation of a prototype "smart" contact lens to monitor blood glucose levels continuously for people with diabetes.


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


African-American Patients: Highest Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy and Lowest Rates for Follow-Up Eye Care – What Kind of Education Is Needed?

A retina withdiabetic retinopathy An emerging 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, more specifically within the African American and Latino patient communities. This research includes an evaluation of the disparities in screening rates for diabetic retinopathy among minority patients, an examination of


New and Ongoing Research: A Drug-Dispensing Contact Lens that Effectively Lowers Eye Pressure Associated with Glaucoma

Several recent eye research projects have addressed the potential of contact lenses as a way to (a) deliver ocular drugs directly to the eye, (b) measure blood glucose levels, and (c) monitor intraocular (within the eye) pressure. Two prominent examples are the FDA-approved Triggerfish contact lens, which monitors intraocular pressure related to glaucoma, and


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


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: Neuroscientists Regenerate Damaged Optic Nerves in Mice, May Lead to Future Treatment for Glaucoma or Other Optic Nerve Disorders

A group of United States-based neuroscience researchers has used a combination of gene therapy and visual stimulation to create a partial regeneration of damaged optic nerves in blind laboratory mice. Although this research is in its earliest stages and has been performed only with mice, the researchers are "cautiously optimistic" that these findings could one day be used to treat adult patients with vision loss caused by problems with the eye-brain connection – the optic nerve – such as


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 Indicates Long-Term Positive Effects of Intensive Blood Sugar Control on the Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy

New diabetes and diabetic retinopathy research indicates that people with type 2 diabetes, who intensively controlled their blood sugar levels during the landmark Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Trial Eye Study, cut their risk of diabetic retinopathy in half in a follow-up analysis, called the ACCORD Follow-on


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


New Research: Do Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Systems Affect Adherence to Glaucoma Medication Regimens?

Electronic medical record (EMR) systems, defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as "an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one health care organization," have the potential to provide substantial benefits to physicians, clinic practices, and health care organizations and improve the quality of patient care and safety. Nevertheless, despite these myriad benefits, the possibility of medical error or


Researchers Identify a Mechanism that May Explain Why Some People Experience Accelerated Diabetic Retinopathy and Vision Loss

New diabetes and diabetic retinopathy research from Harvard Medical School, via Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the official journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), has demonstrated an association between a defective myogenic response – the increase or decrease in blood pressure that serves to regulate a consistent blood flow within the vessels of


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


The FDA Approves Marketing of the Triggerfish "Smart" Contact Lens Sensor to Monitor Glaucoma Eye Pressure

On March 4, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would allow the marketing of the Triggerfish® Sensor, a "smart" contact lens that may help eye doctors identify the best time of day to measure a patient's intraocular [i.e., within the eye] pressure, or IOP. Elevated IOP is often associated with the optic nerve damage that is characteristic of glaucoma. The FDA granted this approval via the


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 Dr. Gislin Dagnelie and Dr. Duane Geruschat: Pioneers in the Study of Restored and Prosthetic Vision

Gislin Dagnelie, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the associate director of the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center, a division of the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. His work over the last 20 years has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation,


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 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 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.


New Research: Gene Therapy Restores Some Vision in Clinical Trials for Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA)

Gene therapy for the treatment of specific eye and retinal disorders, such as Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), has shown promise, but research has produced uneven results thus far and has not produced a cure. To date, gene therapy studies have raised concerns among researchers, including inconsistent initial and longer-term results, such as this LCA gene therapy study from the National Eye Institute, which reported that


New Research: Lucentis Is Effective in Treating Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy and More Effective than Traditional Laser Treatment

Results from a new clinical trial have revealed that the injectable drug Lucentis is highly effective in treating proliferative diabetic retinopathy, a serious vision-related complication of diabetes. "These findings," said Dr. Paul Sieving, Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), "provide crucial evidence for a safe and effective alternative to laser


Wearing Decorative Contact Lenses Can Be the Scariest Part of Halloween

Caption: Lady Gaga in Still from "Bad Romance" Halloween is right around the corner. You may be tempted to try out those "cool" decorative contact lenses that Lady Gaga wore in the "Bad Romance" video a few years ago. Maureen Duffy wrote about the dangers of these lenses in a post last fall. Vampire eyes or other cosmetic effects using contact lens may be very dangerous to your eyes. Here's what the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has to say


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


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


Is Glaucoma a Genetic Disease? New and Innovative Genetic Research Shows Promise in the Treatment of Glaucoma

New glaucoma research from the United States and China indicates that a genetic interaction may prove to be a key component in the development and progression of open-angle glaucoma. Although this genetic research has been conducted only with laboratory mice, the concept shows great promise for developing and identifying effective therapies for treating – and even preventing – glaucoma. Molecular Cell: the Research The research, entitled P16INK4a [a type of gene] Upregulation [increased


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


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


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


Meet Dr. Gregory Goodrich, Chair of the Upcoming Conference on Vision Loss in Older Adults and Veterans

Dr. Gregory Goodrich received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1974 from Washington State University, when he also began his career with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He retired in 2014 after having served as supervisory research psychologist assigned to the Western


New Retinitis Pigmentosa Research: Uncovering the Mechanism Underlying Photoreceptor Cell Death

Researchers from the National Eye Institute and New York University have published new research that implicates the normally beneficial and protective "trash-collecting" central nervous system cells in the accelerated cell death associated with retinitis pigmentosa. Please note that this research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted thus far only with laboratory mice. However, a new clinical trial related to this study, Oral Minocycline in Treating Bilateral Cystoid Macular Edema


New Research: The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis (Bionic Eye) Is Safe, Effective, and Improves Visual Function

New clinical trial results from the Argus II Study Group, an international consortium of eye and vision researchers, confirm that the Argus II, also called the "bionic eye," is a safe, reliable, and effective device that "significantly improves visual function and quality of life for people blinded by retinitis pigmentosa." The latest research, entitled Long-Term Results from an Epiretinal [i.e, "on," "upon," "near," or "against" the retina] Prosthesis


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Role of Lasers in Cataract Surgery?

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 cataracts and cataract surgery consistently rank within the top ten searches and are especially relevant during Cataract Awareness Month: Is it true that cataract surgery now can be performed entirely by laser? How can I find out more about laser surgery for cataracts? An Answer from Tina D. Turner, M.D. <img src="/image.asp?ImageID=3483" style="margin:0 10px 10px 0;" alt="Tina D.


A New Protein Shows Promise for the Treatment and Perhaps Even Prevention of Diabetic Eye Disease

Although there have been a number of significant advances in the treatment of diabetic eye disease, including Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea injections, this approach has not proven to be effective in preventing the development of diabetic eye disease and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (explained below).


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


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


Can Generic Drugs Improve Compliance with Glaucoma Medication Regimens? New Research Says Yes

New glaucoma research from the University of Michigan (U-M) indicates that patients are more likely to comply with a glaucoma medication regimen that includes generic – rather than brand-name – drugs, suggesting that the high cost of co-pays for brand-name drugs may be a significant deterrent to compliance. The U-M research team examined patient medication-compliance patterns before and after latanaprost, a generic prostaglandin analogue (PGA) glaucoma drug [explained below], became available on the market in 2011. They found that patients who continued to use


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: Surgery May Not Completely Undo the Effects of Long-Term Blindness

Is it possible to fully restore sight? New surgeries and advances in stem cell and gene therapies seem to indicate that this is possible and may happen within the next decade. Recent research in neuroscience, however, demonstrates that it may not yet be possible to restore full vision in persons with long-standing blindness or low vision. A group of international


Meet Donald C. Fletcher, M.D., Internationally Recognized Authority on Low Vision Rehabilitation

Donald C. Fletcher, M.D., is one of the world's leading authorities on low vision rehabilitation. Dr. Fletcher is a clinician and researcher in the field of retinal diseases and low vision rehabilitation. He is a medical doctor and an ophthalmologist who has completed fellowship training in both retinal diseases and low vision rehabilitation. After completing surgical training, he gave up surgery to devote his practice to patients who could not have their vision restored by any medical means. He is affiliated with, and routinely sees patients


New Research: Which Factors Influence Persons with Low Vision to Pursue Rehabilitation Services?

When is the best time for a person to pursue low vision rehabilitation services? What are the factors that influence a person to make a "positive personal choice" to seek out low vision rehabilitation? A multi-disciplinary group of Canadian researchers has attempted to answer these questions, via a study that (a) categorizes the "predictors of awareness" of low vision rehabilitation services and (b) examines the critical factors that influence an individual's decision to access vision rehabilitation services. They conclude that, even


Could Echolocation Become a "Complete Sensory Replacement" for Sight? New Research Says Yes

New research from the United Kingdom and Canada has examined the influence of echolocation (explained below), a method that many blind persons use to perceive the location and structure of objects in the environment. The researchers determined, via controlled experimentation, that "echolocation is not just a functional tool to help visually impaired individuals navigate their environment; rather, it has the potential to be an actual sensory replacement for vision." Psychological Science The research, entitled The Size-Weight Illusion


New Glaucoma Research from the UK: Eye Pressure-Lowering Drops Can Help Preserve the Visual Field

The most commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma is a class of eye pressure-lowering drugs called prostaglandin analogues (explained below). Until recently, however, the extent to which these drugs could help preserve the visual field and protect visual function had not been assessed via controlled clinical trials. The United Kingdom Glaucoma Treatment Study, which examined this question via a


Researchers Create Light-Sensitive Retinal Cells for Potential Retinitis Pigmentosa Treatment

United States-based researchers have restored light sensitivity in animal subjects with a condition similar to retinitis pigmentosa. Their work has demonstrated that it is possible to create replacement genetically modified [i.e., via gene therapy] light-sensing retinal cells from cells that do not normally react to light. This research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory animals; nevertheless, the concept shows great promise for persons with retinitis pigmentosa and some forms of Leber congenital amaurosis.


New Research: African-Americans with Diabetes Experience the Highest Rates of Vision Loss

A new study has revealed that African-Americans with diabetes have higher rates of vision loss from diabetic macular edema (explained below) compared with other ethnic and racial groups – and inconsistent access to eye care and eye examinations is a likely contributor to this disparity. From JAMA Ophthalmology The research, entitled Prevalence of and Risk Factors for


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


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 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 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


Is Visual Field Loss in Glaucoma Related to Declines in Quality of Life? New Research Says Yes

New glaucoma research from the University of California, San Diego, has measured the amount and rate of change in glaucoma-related visual field loss and combined that information with data from the National Eye Institute's Visual Function Questionnaire (explained below) to gather quality-of-life self-reports from study participants with glaucoma. The study results indicate that vision-related function incorporating patient self-assessment and perspectives can help glaucoma physicians (a) better identify patients who may


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


New Research Demonstrates that Changes in the Eye and Retina Can Predict the Onset of Dementia

A group of United States-based researchers has discovered a direct correlation with functional cell loss in the retina and signs of dementia in people with a genetic risk for fronto-temporal dementia (FTD). The study also demonstrates that changes in the retina occur much earlier than do the dementia-related changes that appear in an individual's behavior. The Journal of Experimental Medicine This cutting-edge eye/brain research was published in the September 2014 issue of


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


The FDA Approves Injectable Implant ILUVIEN for Treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema

On September 26, 2014, Alimera Sciences, Inc. announced that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Iluvien for the treatment of diabetic macular edema in persons who have been previously treated with a course of corticosteroids and did not have a clinically significant rise in intraocular pressure. Alimera Sciences, Inc., headquartered in Alpharetta,


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


Is Glaucoma a Genetic Disease? Three New Research Projects Pinpoint Six Specific Genes

Three new research projects exploring the role of genes – and six genes in particular – as possible causes of glaucoma have been published simultaneously in the August 31, 2014 online edition of Nature Genetics. Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of scientific and medical information in print and online. NPG publishes a range of journals across the life, physical, chemical, and applied sciences and clinical medicine. Although research scientists are the primary audience, news summaries and articles make many of


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


The FDA Approves EYLEA Injection for the Treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema

Some good news for individuals who have diabetes and associated diabetic macular edema: On July 29, 2014, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved EYLEA (generic name aflibercept) for the treatment of diabetic macular edema. The recommended dosage is two milligrams (mg) every two


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


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


New Glaucoma Research: Is Acute Glaucoma Actually an Inflammatory Disease?

Researchers from the United States and China have demonstrated that (a) acute glaucoma in mice presents as an inflammatory disease and (b) elevated eye pressure causes vision loss by setting in motion an inflammatory response similar to that evoked by bacterial infections. This research is in its earliest stages and has been conducted only with laboratory mice. Nevertheless, the concept shows great promise for persons with acute glaucoma. The research, entitled Caspase-8 promotes NLRP1/NLRP3 inflammasome activation and IL-1ß production in acute glaucoma (explained below) was


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


Research in Progress: Making Artificial (or "Bionic") Vision Look More Like Natural Vision

Researchers from the United States and Europe are attempting to improve the quality of artificial vision, such as the images produced by the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis, also called the "bionic eye." Their preliminary laboratory research indicates that electrical stimulation of retinal cells can produce the same patterns of activity (or "natural vision") that occur when the retina views a moving object, including the ability to see shape, color, and depth. From the Journal Neuron The research, entitled


Is It Possible that Glaucoma Is a Brain Disease?

A group of American and Australian researchers is proposing that glaucoma may actually be a brain – not an eye – disease. Their research theorizes that it is the brain, not the eye, controlling the cellular process that results in glaucoma. The study, entitled Refined Data Analysis Provides Clinical Evidence for Central Nervous System Control of Chronic Glaucomatous Neurodegeneration, was published in the May 2014 issue of Translational Vision Science & Technology.


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


CDC Report: Aerobic Inactivity Linked to Increased Incidence of Chronic Disease in Adults with Disabilities

During this year's Healthy Vision Month, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new health-related Vital Signs report, entitled Inactivity Related to Chronic Disease in Adults with Disabilities, which notes that nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity. Vital Signs is a monthly CDC report that provides the latest data and information on key health indicators. More from CDC The


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


Could Glaucoma Actually Be "Diabetes of the Brain"? A New Hypothesis Says Maybe

A group of medical researchers from India is proposing the radical new hypothesis that glaucoma may indeed be diabetes of the brain. The research, entitled Glaucoma – Diabetes of the brain: A radical hypothesis about its nature and pathogenesis [i.e., the mechanisms that cause it], has been published in the May 2014 issue of Medical Hypotheses. Published by Elsevier Inc., Medical Hypotheses is a forum


New Adaptive Optics Technology Can Detect Very Early Microscopic Diabetes-Related Eye Damage

Researchers from the School of Optometry and the Department of Ophthalmology at Indiana University have developed new technology, based on the principles of adaptive optics, to detect the earliest warning signs of diabetic retinopathy. Previously, these microscopic changes were not detectable using standard diagnostic techniques. The research, entitled In vivo adaptive optics microvascular imaging in diabetic patients without clinically severe diabetic


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


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


An Efficient Practice and Good Patient Communication: Is It Possible to Have Both? A Glaucoma Case Study

One of the most pressing contemporary challenges confronting ophthalmologists and optometrists is balancing efficiency of practice management with quality of patient care, including time spent speaking directly with patients. At Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, Michael V. Boland, MD, PhD, and Ravi R. Pandit, a fourth-year MD/MPH student, have been exploring this issue as it relates to the Glaucoma Center of Excellence at Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Quality of care - from the patient's point of view - is also examined in the documentary film


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: Early-Stage Glaucoma Damage Can Sometimes Be Missed by Visual Field Index Test

During World Glaucoma Week, it is helpful – and instructive – to listen to discussions within the medical community about issues that are critically important to people with glaucoma. One such issue relates to a major challenge in the management of glaucoma: how to best determine the severity of the disease, estimate the rate of glaucoma progression, initiate appropriate treatment, and adjust treatment when necessary. In persons with glaucoma, it is the visual field that is the most important functional measure of the severity of the disease and its


Surprising New Research from the National Eye Institute on Surgical Options for Congenital Cataracts

For adults who undergo cataract surgery, implantation of an artificial lens, also called an intraocular [i.e., within the eye] lens, or IOL, has been the standard of care for many years. However, an ongoing clinical trial, sponsored in part by the National Eye Institute, suggests that for many infants, surgery followed by the use of contact lenses for several years – and an eventual lens implant – may be a better solution. The research, entitled


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


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


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


Glaucoma Progression and Sleep Position: Are They Related?

A group of South Korean and American researchers have investigated the relationship between preferred sleeping position and asymmetric [i.e., not identical in both eyes] visual field loss in subjects with glaucoma. Their results suggest that the sleep position habitually preferred by the study participants [i.e., lying on the same side of the body as the eye with the greater visual field loss] could be a factor that contributes to glaucoma progression. (Please note: The researchers did not determine that sleep position caused asymmetric field loss; they only determined that sleep position


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 from Australia: Does Cataract Surgery Increase the Risk of Falling?

A new Australian study suggests (but does not definitively prove) that older adults with cataracts appear to double their risk of falling after cataract surgery on the first eye and before surgery on the second. The finding that cataract surgery may – at least temporarily – be linked to an increase in falls comes after years of conflicting study results on the subject. The research, entitled


In Development: A Contact Lens to Deliver Glaucoma Medication

A team of American researchers has developed a contact lens that can deliver a regulated dose of the glaucoma drug latanoprost for up to a month. The lenses encase a thin film of the drug inside the edges of the absorbent plastic used to make contact lenses. They have not yet been tested on human subjects, but appear to be safe in cell culture and animal studies. The research, entitled In vivo performance of a drug-eluting contact lens to treat glaucoma for a month, is available


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


Our Readers Want to Know: What Is the Difference Between Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia?

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 blood glucose levels and diabetes consistently rank within the five most popular searches: How do blood glucose levels relate to diabetes? What is the difference between hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia? An Answer from Debra Sokol-McKay, MS, CVRT, CDE This week, during


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


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


The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis ("Bionic Eye") Receives Medicare Approval

On August 15, 2013, Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. announced that its Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System has been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for both a new technology add-on payment (inpatient setting of care) and a transitional pass through payment (outpatient setting of care) beginning October 1, 2013. You can read the complete announcement at the Second Sight website. The Argus II Implantation Centers In July, Second Sight Medical Products,


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


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


Brain Research and Vision: Can You See by Hearing?

Cognitive scientists in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have published initial research results about the "vOICe," a sensory substitution device (SSD) that could someday compensate for vision loss, in the June 2013 issue of Frontiers in Cognitive Science. The vOICe (at left) is a visual-to-auditory SSD that encodes images taken by a camera worn by the user into "soundscapes," enabling users to extract information about their surroundings. The Frontiers group is an open-access, peer-reviewed academic publisher and


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


The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis ("Bionic Eye") to Be Offered in 12 US Implantation Centers

Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., of Sylmar, California, has announced that its Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System, also called the "artificial retina" or "bionic eye," will be offered in 12 implantation centers across the United States to treat patients with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The mission of Second Sight is to "develop, manufacture, and market implantable visual prosthetics to enable blind individuals to achieve greater independence."


New Research: Contact Lenses with a Built-In Telescopic Zoom for Macular Degeneration

Information about a new contact lens device, now in development (although not yet in clinical trials), that may benefit people with macular degeneration has been published in the July 1, 2013 issue of Optics Express. Optics Express, the international online journal of optics, is an all-electronic, open-access journal that publishes peer-reviewed articles emphasizing scientific and technological innovations in all aspects of optics and photonics. About the Contact Lens


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


Updates on the Progress of Clinical Trials for a Retinal Implant for Retinitis Pigmentosa

An updated study, entitled Artificial vision with wirelessly powered subretinal electronic implant has been published online in the February 2013 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Proceedings B is the Royal Society's biological research journal, dedicated to the rapid publication of high-quality research papers. The paper summarizes the results of a nine-subject clinical trial of a functional retinal implant for patients with


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


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


A New Study Explores the Advantages of Morning versus Evening Glaucoma Medication

A new study, published in the Journal of Glaucoma, has attempted to determine "whether adherence is better with morning or evening administration of a once-daily glaucoma medication in the treatment of patients with glaucoma or ocular hypertension." The Journal of Glaucoma provides a forum for discussion of clinical, scientific, and socioeconomic issues of concern to clinicians who care for persons with


Treating Hypertension May Increase the Risk of Vision Loss from Glaucoma

At the American Glaucoma Society 2013 Annual Meeting, lead investigator Carlos Gustavo De Moraes, MD, from New York University Langone Medical Center, presented results of a study indicating that persons with normal-tension glaucoma may have an increased risk for vision loss if they are also receiving aggressive hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure) treatment. According to Dr. De Moraes, 32% of the 85 study subjects had both systemic


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


The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis ("Bionic Eye") Receives Humanitarian Use FDA Approval

On February 14, 2013, Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, also called the "artificial retina" or "bionic eye." The mission of Sylmar, California-based Second Sight is to "develop, manufacture, and market implantable visual prosthetics to enable blind individuals to achieve greater independence." The Argus II has been approved to treat adults with severe to profound


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


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


Gene Therapy and Leber Congenital Amaurosis: Update from the National Eye Institute

The following update addressing the role of gene therapy in the treatment of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), an inherited and progressive eye disease, is adapted, with permission, from a National Eye Institute news brief entitled New Findings Suggest Need for Combined Strategy in Treatment of Rare Form of Blindness. The mission of the National Eye Institute is to "conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases,


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 Promising New Method for Administering Glaucoma Medication

A promising (but not yet proven) treatment for glaucoma is the use of punctal plugs to deliver an accurate and consistent dosage of glaucoma medication. A major concern in glaucoma treatment is compliance with a medication regimen: ensuring that individuals use their eye drops every day and in the correct dosage. The consequences of poor compliance can lead to surgery, vision impairment, or even blindness. Small eye drop containers are not easy to


Have Researchers Identified an Early Predictor for Glaucoma?

A new study, published in the January 2013 issue of Ophthalmology, concludes that blood vessel changes within the eye could be an early warning sign of an increased risk for glaucoma. Ophthalmology, the official journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, publishes original, peer-reviewed reports of research in ophthalmology, including treatment methods, the latest drug findings, and results of clinical trials. The Study Authors


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:


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


New (Positive) Clinical Trial Results for Totally Blind Persons with Sleep Disorders

On December 18, 2012, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced positive Phase III clinical trial results from the recently completed Safety and Efficacy of Tasimelteon (SET) study. Tasimelton 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 individuals who lack the light sensitivity necessary to reset their internal "body clocks."


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


New Research on Glaucoma, Impaired Eye Movements, and Daily Living Activities

A new study, published in the November 27, 2012 issue of the online journal Eye and Brain, concludes that saccadic eye movements are significantly delayed in individuals with early, moderate, or advanced glaucoma. Eye and Brain is an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal focusing on clinical and experimental research in the field of neuro-ophthalmology. About Saccades and Eye Movements Saccades (pronounced suh-KAHDZ) are


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


New Developments in Glaucoma Treatment: Micro-Stents

Year One results from the HYDRUS I clinical trial of the Hydrus Microstent, which has the potential for long-term reduction of intraocular [i.e., within the eye] pressure in patients with open-angle glaucoma, were presented at the 2012 American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, held from November 10-13 in Chicago, Illinois. Ivantis, Inc., an Irvine, California-based company


A Phase 2 Clinical Trial for a New Glaucoma Treatment

Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced positive results for a Phase 2a clinical trial of experimental/investigational drug AR-13324 as a potential eye drop treatment for primary open-angle glaucoma. About Aerie Pharmaceuticals Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc., located in Bedminster, New Jersey and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, is a privately held biotechnology


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


Cataracts and Alzheimer's Disease: Are They Related?

Recently, I learned about a fascinating study in which researchers have proposed a possible (but not proven) genetic link between Alzheimer's disease and age-related cataracts. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) The study, entitled Delta-Catenin Is Genetically and Biologically Associated with Cortical Cataract and Future Alzheimer-Related Structural and Functional Brain Changes (I will explain/decode!), was published in the September 11, 2012 issue of


The Part of the Brain that Processes Visual Text May Not Require Vision After All

I first published this story last year, but believe it's equally relevant today. I think you'll agree. Congenital Blindness, the Visual Cortex, and Language Processing Two intriguing research reports are shedding new light on the way the brain's visual processing center functions in people who are blind. The first report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, entitled Language processing in the occipital cortex of


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


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


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


An Ophthalmologist "Nails It" Regarding Physician-Patient Communication

I first published this story on March 17, 2011, but believe it's equally relevant today. I think you'll agree. Meet Doctor Friedman David S. Friedman, MD, MPH, PhD, is a prominent and powerful advocate for enhanced physician-patient communication. Doctor Friedman is an ophthalmologist whose primary practice is located at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He discussed the current state of physician-patient communication during his recent presentation at the Richard A. Ellis Lecture at the Wills Eye Institute


New Research on Hip Fractures and Cataract Surgery

A new study, published in the August 1, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates that the risk of hip fractures was significantly reduced in patients aged 65 and older who had undergone cataract surgery, compared with those patients who did not undergo cataract surgery. The Study Authors The study, entitled Risk of Fractures


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


The FDA Approves a New Stent Device for Glaucoma Surgery with Cataracts

On June 25, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had approved the iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent System. This is the first stent device approved for use in combination with cataract surgery to reduce intraocular [i.e., within the eye] pressure in adult patients with mild or moderate open-angle glaucoma and a


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


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 Stem Cell Clinical Trial for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Last week, StemCells, Inc. announced the initiation of a Phase I/II clinical trial of its human neural stem cell product for the treatment of dry macular degeneration, to be conducted at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest's (RFSW) Anderson Vision Research Center in Dallas, Texas. A summary of StemCell Inc.'s


The Joslin Diabetes Center's Incredible "50-Year Medalists"

Researchers at the The Joslin Diabetes Center and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) have completed a study of 158 people who have lived with documented type 1 diabetes for 50 years or more, and who comprise a portion of the Joslin 50-Year Medalists cohort. The researchers concluded that a significant percentage of this unique group of patients


A Potential "Eye Drop" Treatment for (Wet) Macular Degeneration

Ohr Pharmaceutical, Inc., a company that is dedicated to the clinical development of new drugs for underserved therapeutic needs, has been awarded Fast Track designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Squalamine Eye Drops as a potential treatment for wet


Could One Cause of Macular Degeneration Be a Viral Infection?

Recently, I read a fascinating study in which the researchers have proposed a possible new approach (one of many) to the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. The study, entitled Macrophage Activation Associated with Chronic Murine Cytomegalovirus Infection Results in More Severe Experimental Choroidal Neovascularization (I will explain/decode!),


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


Updates on the Progress of Clinical Trials for a Retinal Implant for Retinitis Pigmentosa

How It Began On November 3, 2010, a report entitled Subretinal electronic chips allow blind patients to read letters and combine them to words was published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Proceedings B is the Royal Society's biological research journal, dedicated to the rapid publication of high-quality research papers. The paper summarized a 15-year research project to develop and test a functional retinal implant for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The project was headed by Eberhart


Can Increased Physical Activity Reduce the Risk of Glaucoma?

Recently, I was very interested to read a study that examined the relationship between physical activity and a particular and consistent risk factor for glaucoma that is drawing increased attention from many glaucoma researchers. Physical Activity and Ocular Perfusion Pressure: The EPIC-Norfolk Eye Study was published in the October 2011 issue of Investigative


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


What is the Status of Low Vision Rehabilitation? Is It Keeping Pace with the Needs of Older Adults?

As many readers know, my lifelong professional passion has been, and continues to be, linking older adults who experience late-life vision loss with appropriate and helpful vision rehabilitation services. It's not always easy for older adults to find appropriate and helpful vision rehabilitation services, however. In About VisionAware, we say this about


An Updated Clinical Trial for Totally Blind Individuals with Sleep Disorders

Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company in Rockville, MD, is currently recruiting study participants for a Phase 3 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


More Frequent Visual Field Testing May Lead To Earlier Detection of Glaucoma Progression

Here's more good news about glaucoma that builds upon, and enhances, quality of life issues. I was interested to read Influence of Visual Field Testing Frequency on Detection of Glaucoma Progression with Trend Analyses, an exploration of whether an increased frequency of visual field testing leads to earlier detection of glaucoma progression, in the August 8,


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


Update on the Triggerfish® "Smart" Contact Lens for Glaucoma

Several months ago, I highlighted the Triggerfish® "smart" contact lens and a prototype implantable microchip, two devices that demonstrate exceptional promise in measuring and monitoring intraocular (i.e., within the eye) pressure that characterizes the most common types of glaucoma. Thus, I was pleased to learn that two new


An Excellent Series on Macular Degeneration from The New York Times

As our readers know, I am committed to investigating and reporting the latest information about macular degeneration, including ongoing research and clinical trial results; thus I am extremely pleased to note that the New York Times is presenting a three-pronged series on macular diseases and disorders. In the latest installment of the New York Times Patient Voices series, health writer Tara Parker-Pope introduces


Update on Stem Cell Clinical Trials for Dry Macular Degeneration and Stargardt's Disease

On Tuesday, July 12, 2011, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) announced the treatment of the first two patients in its two Phase I/II clinical trials for Stargardt's disease and dry macular degeneration (AMD), using retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. The procedures were carried out by principal investigator Steven Schwartz, M.D., Ahmanson Professor of Ophthalmology at the David Geffen School of


The State of Vision, Aging, and Public Health in America: How Are We Doing?

Last weekend I was privileged to attend a professional meeting with a number of vision colleagues, one of whom was the prominent health scientist Dr. John Crews. John E. Crews, DPA, is a Health Scientist with the Vision Health Initiative of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Crews' specialties are vision impairment and aging, caregiving, and disability; his research


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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