The study of polarized light, and the different ways we perceive light, is currently providing researchers with new information that could help with the treatment and detection of low vision diseases such as Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma. This newly discovered data also highlights some interesting correlations between our vision and the vision of certain animals, like cuttlefish or honeybee’s.
It’s these similarities that are pointing researchers in unexpected directions, revealing new ways in which doctors can treat and/or prevent Macular Degeneration, an increasingly common cause of age-related vision loss. Click here to learn more about polarized light, light perception, and more interesting revelations about your eyes.
Anyone who gets frequent eye injections for wet AMD or diabetic macular edema would be quick to agree that if there was a treatment that made it possible to get the same results with a once a year visit to the eye doctor, they would be first in line. My mother and father-in-law know first hand the burden and discomfort of these regular visits to the eye doctor. The constant appointments, the inconvenience of driving in bad weather, and the discomfort following the injections all take a toll on this senior population.
While eye specialists and researchers appreciate how the new anti-VEGF medications are helping to control vision loss and the development of new leaky blood vessels, they also are always looking to improve on what is currently available. One such researcher is Mark S. Humayun, MD, PhD. While he has a whole list of inventions, accomplishments, publications and patents to his name, most patients with chronic eye diseases will appreciate his latest invention of the Ophthalmic MicroPump™ System. He is one of the co-founders of Replenish Inc, out of Pasadena, California whose mission is “to provide an easier, dependable, and more effective route of drug administration into the eye,”
How The Ophthalmic MicroPump Works
The micropump is implanted under the skin of the eye and can hold up to 12 months of medication before it needs to be refilled. The pump can be programmed to dispense drugs at a nanoliter-size or microdose every hour, day or month with a sensor that provides feedback. The anterior pump has been developed for those needing medication for glaucoma and a posterior pump for those with retinal diseases. The company calls the programmable part of the system, “The EyeLink™ which is a wireless programmer/charger that communicates with the MicroPump implant.
Diabetic Macular Edema Study
A small study of 11 patients with diabetic macular edema (DME) were implanted with the Posterior MicroPump Drug Delivery System (PMP) prefilled with ranibizumab (Lucentis) into the subconjunctival space. The PMP was wirelessly controlled to deliver a programmed microdose. Biweekly comprehensive ophthalmic exams and optical coherence tomography were performed for 90 days. At the end of the study, the PMP was removed and patients then received standard of care for DME.
The study and article Implantable MicroPump for Drug Delivery in Patients with Diabetic Macular Edema published on line 2014 Dec 1 at Translational Vision Science and Technology concluded:
“This study demonstrates the first-in-man safety of the Replenish MicroPump implant for a period of 90 days and its capability to deliver a microdose into the vitreous cavity. Further studies to enable longer-term safety and to demonstrate the feasibility of multiple programmable drug delivery are necessary.”
For more information on research for macular degeneration visit:
Macular Degeneration Research
Leslie Degner, RN, BSN
Retinal implants are becoming available in many different forms, from intraocular lenses and telescopes to drug delivery systems. NeuroTech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. out of Cumberland, Rhode Island specializes in chronic eye diseases and has developed an implant that provides continuous medication to the back of the eye through a one or 5 chamber implanted device.
Encapsulated Cell Therapy (ECT)
Wet macular degeneration is treated through frequent intra-ocular injections that require constant monitoring at home and by the eye specialist. Besides being uncomfortable, eye injections expose patients to possible side effects such as infections and require monthly or bimonthly visits to the eye doctor. Investigators of NeuroTech are hoping to change that through a one-time outpatient visit that involves implanting a single or multi-chamber device called Encapsulated Cell Therapy (ECT). ECT is able to deliver anti-VEGF medication to the back of the eye through an implant that continuously produces the protein receptors for at least 2 years. The 20” surgical procedure involves a 3 mm incision of the sclera and when needed the implant can be removed.
“The NT-503 ECT implant, essentially a reversible gene therapy, represents the future of intraocular drug delivery. To have a therapy that could effectively and continuously treat our AMD patients long- term without the burden of frequent injections is very exciting. It is also advantageous to have the option of removing the implant, if desired.” states study investigator David Boyer, MD, Senior Partner at Retina-Vitreous Associates Medical Group and Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
Phase 2 Clinical Trial
As of March 2015, the FDA approved NeuroTech’s application to begin a Phase 2 clinical trial for NT-503 Encapsulated Cell Therapy (ECT) for the treatment of choroidal neovascularization – leaking blood vessels – due to wet AMD. This Phase 2 study has begun and will be enrolling 150 patients who will be followed for 2 years. The safety and efficacy of the NT-503 ECT implant will be compared to Eylea injections every 8 weeks in patients who have been treated with at least 3 anti-VEGF injections and still have active disease.
By reducing the need for frequent or multiple eye injections, patients and doctors alike will benefit from this one-time outpatient procedure if it proves to control choroidal neovascularization due to age related macular degeneration.
“This is a significant milestone for our NT-503 ECT program,” commented Quinton Oswald, Chief Executive Officer of Neurotech. “Real-world injection frequencies often do not correlate with optimal treatment recommendations due to the enormous burden of monthly or bi-monthly injections and disease monitoring,” He added. “We are one step closer to being able to give patients and physicians an efficacious, long-term therapy with a single outpatient surgical procedure.”
Leslie Degner, RN, BSN
As we get older, age-related vision loss is commonplace, with rampant low vision diseases like macular degeneration or glaucoma. You, or perhaps a friend or relative, may be struggling to see. There are preventative measures, such as routine eye exams and a healthy diet, but it’s important to know what’s good, and conversely, what is harmful for your eyes. Click below for an introduction to low vision: discover the easiest ways to protect your eye sight, and the history of the most common low vision diseases.
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: