This month, the 2015 Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research was awarded to Ophthalmology Prof. Bob Massof of John Hopkins University’s School of Medicine. The prestigious award, named after the brave woman who impressed the world with her coruage to overcome blindness and deafness, honors those who dedicate their careers to low vision awareness and research. Prof. Massof is known for his contributions to low vision rehabilitiation research, and he also helped develop the first head-mounted low vision assistive technology designed for the visually impaired. He’s humbled to be the recipient of this award, which is the result of decades of work. Learn about his involvement with the Lions Club, and an interesting connection between this veterans organization and Helen Keller herself; click the link below for more info.
One of the best ways to maintain good eyesight is with a healthy diet, focused on certain key ingredients. Our bodies depend on this nourishment, and our eyes in particular thrive off of nutrients like beta-carotene and Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s all about the choices we make when it comes to our meals, and the truth is, it can get a little overwhelming with all of the options we’re surrounded with. What are the best foods, and what about vitamins? What foods should you avoid?
Carrots can go a long way in keep our eyes healthy, but they can’t do the whole job. Your vision depends on daily servings of colorful fruits and green vegetables, and snacks containing natural antioxidants. The good news is healthy eating has become a trend with chefs trying to make a name for themselves, and as a result, there are now countless recipes out there that will blow your mind with flavor and pizazz. And… your eyes will thank you, because one of the most important things you can do to ward off low vision diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma, is to eat right, and eat smart. Click here for more information on a smart, vision-friendly diet:
It’s no secret: as we climb up the years in life, we can begin to experience gradual vision loss. Many seniors are living with low vision from diseases like macular degeneration or glaucoma, and the numbers continue to rise… with no available cure. However, there is hope in prevention and early detection, which is possible through an eye exam. Doctors can identify the low vision disease, whether it’s cataracts, macular degeneration, or glaucoma, and set up a regiment for these patients that can help deter low vision from occurring. That is to say, we can now be warned well in advance, and prepare for the inevitable with preemptive safeguards.
Learn more about common age-related threats to your eyes, and discover what you can do to safeguard your vision.
There seems to be more people wearing glasses these days; have you ever wondered what effect the modern world has on your eyes? After all, many of us work around computer screens all day, and even when we’re not working, we are, coincidentally, also watching screens. Time flies when we’re having fun, and before we know it, we’ve been in front of a screen for several hours. If you think about it for a moment, it totally makes sense to give our eyes frequent breaks. Perhaps this is especially important with kids and teens, who may over indulge their still developing eyes by playing non-stop video games and facebook.
Simply put, all of us our spending more time inside than we used to. It’s definitely having a detrimental effect on our eye sight. Recent studies are suggesting that sunlight is important, and it’s this bright, natural light, that serves to balance the strain we place under our vision through the course of our days. Learn more about preventing myopia, and other increasingly common forms of low vision as a result of visual inactivity.
Living with Diabetes is a growing concern for doctors and patients of all ages, as the number of Americans suffering with Diabetes continue to rise. It’s a disease that affects a long list of the body’s various organs, including our eyes. As Diabetes progresses, visual impairments can occur as a result of Diabetic Retinopathy, which becomes more of a concern as the disease advances over time. Diabetic Retinopathy can severely reduce or completely diminish one’s vision, and doctors are racing towards a fix as the number of patients with Diabetic Retinopathy continue to grow.
Doctors are making rapid advances in understanding and treating Diabetes, and it’s always been emphasized that a strong, healthy diet is vital in curbing the negative health effects that Diabetes can cause, particularly low vision, as the ocular system thrives on nutrition. But are there other things that can be done to help block Diabetic Retinopathy? Will Diabetes increase the odds of other low vision diseases as well (like Glaucoma or Macular Degeneration)? Find out more about Diabetes, including six vital steps in preventing low vision.
Currently, over 4 million Americans are suffering from Glaucoma. This low vision disease, a leading cause of blindness which typically affects older people, is referred to as “the sneak thief of sight”; it’s early stages often go undetected. Early detection is paramount, as doctors and specialists can possibly restore lost vision, or maximize their remaining vision. Some believe that this disease is ultimately unavoidable, that is to say, all of us will someday begin to lose our eye sight… if we live long enough. Others claim there are indeed preventative measures one can take to safeguard themselves from this terrible disease. The fact remains: In order to prevent Glaucoma, we must understand how the disease manifests and progresses. For more information on Glaucoma prevention, read the full article here:
As our aging population increases, more adults and seniors are losing their vision to common diseases like macular degeneration or glaucoma. In the search for a cure, it’s become obvious that a nutritious diet can go a long way in preventing low vision. U.S. Dietary Guidelines are expected to change in an effort to promote the correlation between healthy eating and healthy eyes. Every five years, there is a nationwide reevaluation of what can be done to ensure a healthy America, and the next publication, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, is due at the end of this year. Find out new nutritional information optometrists will be sharing with patients in an on-going effort to prevent macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other causes of low vision.
To read more about this topic you can visit the link below.
Positive results from a Phase II advanced dry macular degeneration study has opened doors to a Phase III clinical trial involving more than 900 patients in 20 countries. The study will run for two years.
The drug Lampalizumab “slowed progression of dry, aged related macular degeneration in patients with advanced disease, shrinking the area of geographic atrophy (GA) by 20.4%” according to the Phase II MAHALO study results. The principal investigator, Carl Regillo, MD, from the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania states, “MAHALO is the first study to demonstrate a positive treatment effect with a complement inhibitor in geographic atrophy.” The main purpose of the Phase III trial will be the same – to see if the drug can promote a change in the GA area. Evaluations to monitor these changes will be by retinal imaging.
Eligibility and Intervention
The drug will be given by intravitreal injection. However, not every participant will be given the drug. The study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. This means that some patients will get the drug and others will get a placebo or sham. Neither the participant nor the retinal doctor will know which patients are receiving the drug or the placebo until the end of the study.
Eligible candidates for the Phase III study must be 50 years or older and have evidence of Geographic Atrophy (GA) caused by macular degeneration with no choroidal neovascularization (wet AMD) in both eyes.
Inhibiting the Complement Pathway
Lampalizumab works by inhibiting the complement pathway. Ophthalmologist Phil Rosenfeld of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, explains complement activation this way, “The complement pathway is responsible for preventing infection. When the pathway gets activated by bacteria, viruses, and foreign tissue, it destroys the invading organisms and transplanted organs. During the activation process, normal tissue can get damaged. In AMD, it is believed that people with AMD carry mutations in their DNA that cause the complement system to become over-activated and the pathway accidentally destroys normal tissue.
“Lampalizumab has the potential to represent a significant breakthrough for this disease and could provide real hope for GA patients,” said Sandra Horning, Roche’s chief medical officer. “It is the only ophthalmic drug in clinical development that specifically targets complement factor D.”
Leslie Degner, RN, BSN
In a recent blog by ophthalmologist and low vision specialist, Lylas Mogk, MD., she reports that “about 30% of people with vision loss experience Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) for a year or two, in which they see clear, colorful images of people, animals, flowers or buildings, for example, that aren’t really there. The person seeing these is usually aware that the images are not real, as they may be superimposed on their living room wall or appear in the sky.”
Such was the experience of my father-in-law who has wet macular degeneration (AMD). He would see mothers and children in bright color clothes riding bikes on the side of the road while he was in the car or sitting in his yard. At first these visual hallucinations alarmed him and he spoke to his primary care doctor and explained that he was seeing these visions. Unaware of Charles Bonnet Syndrome, she ordered a brain CT scan for him. On the weekend before the test, he told me about his symptoms. When I explained that these strange sightings were not uncommon in those with macular degeneration or other vision loss, he felt great relief. Dr. Mogk goes on to explain, “ It’s important to know that these are not pathological hallucinations; they are just your eyes playing tricks on you, similar to phantom pain, for example, when someone feels like an amputated finger is itching but it can’t be because it’s not there.”
In a recent survey of general practitioners (GPs) by the Macular Society it was reported that 58% of those that responded were aware of the link between macular degeneration and visual hallucination. And an estimated 20% of GPs learned about CBS from their patients. Such was the case with my father-in-law. I instructed him to have a conversation with his GP about CBS and his symptoms before he had the CT scan in case she wanted to cancel the test.
Thankfully my father-in-law told his doctor about his “sightings” and found great relief knowing that his hallucinations were not from some other serious disorder. However, that’s not the case for many other patients who suffer in silence afraid of what these abnormal visions might mean.
Dr Waqaar Shah, of the Royal College of General Practitioners and the UK Vision Strategy Eye Health Clinical Priority Project, commented, “Patients will rarely volunteer this symptom for fear of being judged as having a mental health condition so it is important GPs raise awareness amongst patients so that they can receive appropriate support. “
Learn more about this syndrome so that you can discuss it with someone you know with vision loss or maybe even your GP:
Charles Bonnet Syndrome
Leslie Degner, RN, BSN
There has been lots of activity in the research world using embryonic and adult stem cells to treat not only macular degeneration, but other eye diseases as well, such as Stargardts macular dystrophy, optic nerve disease and glaucoma. These early Phase I clinical trials enroll very small numbers of patients, leaving the rest of the world to watch and wait.
But perhaps there are other ways to replace damaged cells with healthy stem cells produced by your own body. Damon P. Miller II, M.D. board-certified medical doctor, fellowship-trained radiologist and certified by the American Naturopathic Certification, has written a book called Stem Cells Heal Your Eyes: Prevent and Help: Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Stargardt, Retinal Dystrophy, and Retinopathy. Dr. Miller does not practice traditional medicine but rather uses natural, drugless therapies to treat chronic medical conditions. He has devoted a significant part of his practice to the treatment of eye disorders.
Dr. Miller worked with Grace Halloran, PhD to put together several eye health therapies now called the Better Eye Health Program, that seek to prevent vision loss from eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and macular degeneration. Dr. Halloran was diagnosed with RP and macular degeneration at the age of 25. When her son was born he also inherited the defective gene for RP. After many visits to academic medical centers she received the same answer from all of them – there is nothing we can do for your son’s vision. Not to be deterred she determined that she must take responsibility to find or pave her own way to prevent this eye disease from taking her and her son’s vision. She was able to restore much of her own vision and her son’s vision remained healthy and normal through a variety of different therapies along with diet and nutrition. Dr. Miller writes, “Dr. Halloran’s therapies were helping people support their own adult stem cells to regenerate damaged eye tissue.” You can read Grace’s story in her autobiography, Amazing Grace, Autobiography of a Survivor.
Unlike a single injection into the eye, the stimulation of one’s own stem cell production involves many different therapies and approaches. Also unlike today’s healthcare which treats a single part of the body, such as the eye or the retina, these therapies work to improve systems of the body such as increasing circulation, providing nourishment and oxygen, and reducing chronic inflammation. According to Dr. Miller, “when an individual incorporates certain disciplines into their lifestyle, vision can be improved and degeneration can be slowed or stopped.” Here are some of the therapies he uses:
Dr. Miller explains, “Adult stem cells allow the body to repair damaged tissue previously thought irreparable including eye tissue.” Find out more about his book and the Better Eye Health Program here:
Leslie Degner, RN, BSN