Posts

Cataract Surgery Leads to Longer Life in Women

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Written by Dr. David Evans Last modified on September 6, 2018 An article I wrote back in April described a National Bureau of Economic Research study that concluded cataract surgery patients have a life expectancy 1.8 years longer than people with cataracts who do not undergo surgery. Much of that piece focused on the finding that people, who have vision diminished by cataracts, are less likely to be active, and more likely to suffer accidental falls and related injuries. As a follow-on, a new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology suggests an even stronger link between cataract surgery and mortality risk. About the Study The genesis of this study was something completely different than evaluating effects of cataract vision loss. Its original purpose was to evaluate the effects of hormone therapy and dietary changes in postmenopausal women. That study was cut short once it was determined that hormone therapy increased the risk of vascular events. Although the hormone therapy aspect of…

Balance Goggles – A New Approach to Glaucoma Treatment

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Written by Dr. David Evans Last modified on September 13, 2018Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss for people over the age of 60. Typically viewed as an age-related vision problem, glaucoma is associated with abnormal pressure levels inside the eye (intraocular – IOP) resulting from a buildup of fluid. (Although in Asian countries, many glaucoma patients do not have high IOP.) There is no curative treatment available for glaucoma, however there are a number of options available to help slow its progression and limit additional vision loss. These treatment methods have typically included the use of medicated eye drops, drugs and eye surgery aimed at reducing IOP. Given the serious impact of glaucoma and its relative common nature, there is ongoing research aimed at developing new and innovative treatments (I’ve previously written about exfoliation glaucoma research). One such new and innovative treatment that recently caught my attention is Balance Goggles. What ar…

Ophthotech to Boost Development of Gene Therapy for Best Disease

Ophthotech Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of therapies for orphan retinal diseases and age-related macular degeneration, has announced an evolving, commercial partnership with the University of Pennsylvania and University of Florida to develop a gene therapy for Best disease caused by BEST1 mutations. The company will also sponsor preclinical and natural history studies of Best disease. It expects to submit an investigational new drug application (IND) for the Best disease gene therapy to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2021. The FDA’s authorization of the IND will enable the company to launch a clinical trial. The Foundation Fighting Blindness invested $1.8 million over the last decade in lab studies for a gene therapy at the University of Pennsylvania that reversed Best disease in canine models. The therapeutic effect of the treatment has been sustained for as long as five years and was reported in the journal Proceedings of the …

Overuse of Contact Lenses

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How do make sure you aren’t overusing your lenses? Most people who have prescription eye glasses prefer wearing contact lenses. It’s not only comfortable but it also doesn’t alter your natural look. Though contact lenses are convenient they shouldn’t be used extensively. Overuse of contact lenses can cause serious damages to your eye. If you are not following the 18 hour week rule, then you could be overusing your contact lenses. In other words you must take out your contact lenses for at least 18 hours a week. Here are some symptoms which are indications that you are using you have your lenses on longer than you should, and you need to consult your eye doctor immediately: Pain and redness in the eyeItching when you remove your lensesIncreased mucous secretion in the eyeDecreased visionPhotophobia or light sensitivityTearingInability to remove your lenses because they are stuck in the eye   Your eye needs direct oxygen to ‘breathe’ and remain healthy. When you wear your lenses for a…

Foundation Invests $2.5 Million in Search for Elusive Retinal Disease Genes and Mutations

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Since the identification in 1989 of the first gene associated with an inherited retinal disease (IRD) – that gene was RHO, which when mutated, is a frequent cause of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) – genetic researchers, many funded by the Foundation, have identified approximately 270 genes linked to IRDs. In most cases, defects in a single gene can cause a retinal disease and vision loss. The cumulative breakthroughs in IRD gene discovery over the past three decades are indeed impressive. It means that, today, about 65-70 percent of IRD patients will have their mutated gene identified when getting tested. However, it also means that the gene mutations for about one-third of patients are still not identified. To address the gap in genetically diagnosing patients, the Foundation is funding a 5-year, $2.5 million project to find elusive IRD genes and mutations. “Patients benefit greatly from the identification of their disease-causing gene mutations. It confirms their diagnosis, identifies…

I Can Only Imagine

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I can only imagine my wife’s beautiful face.  Oh sure, I’ve touched it and kissed it many times.  I’ve felt the lines with the tips of my fingers, tracing our lives together, and I’ve heard her smile.  I understand that’s not really seeing it.  It’s not seeing her eyes as they sparkle with something funny I said; or, when she looks at me with love reserved only for those who are truly in love. She’s often tried to explain the flash and colors of a sunset and the cotton softness of clouds as they drift across the sky.  And, what about a rainbow made up of all the colors that somehow promise all of us that things in the world will get better. How amazing it would be to see my daughter Blythe skiing her favorite Colorado Mountain trail or my son Tom riding a California wave, both so secure and happy enjoying the sports they love. There is so much more I wish I could see, but it’s not going to happen because I am blind.  I am left with only imagining what it’s like to have the gift of …

A Boy with No Boundaries

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Last summer, Kai Wang devoured 12 audio books on science and engineering feats like the Golden Gate Bridge, atomic bombs, and the cotton gin. He listened to the books over and over — some as many as five times. One of his favorite titles was “Rocket Men,” a 400-page book for adults on Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon.  He finished it in a week. Kai enjoys talking with his mom, Mina, about everything he learns and reads. But it’s not just banter for him — he’s often quizzing her to see what she knows. “He’ll ask me about the order of elements in the periodic table or what’s happening to atoms on the sun, but he knows the answers,” says Mina. “I’m a molecular biologist, and any time I sit down and explain what I am doing in the lab, he understands it.” Kai is only five years old, and virtually blind from an inherited retinal disease called Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). Kai was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with the condition. Mina and her husband, Lingeng, ne…