Eye and Vision News

New eBook And App Provide In-Depth Info For Viewers Of Sight: The Story Of Vision Documentary #

October 2016 — Don’t forget to see the new documentary Sight: The Story of Vision, starting on October 13, World Sight Day! (Details and trailer below.)

In the meantime, a companion eBook has become available for download from the iBooks store and the documentary website.

The author, Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM, said he created the book as a “deeper dive” into the many topics covered by the documentary. (Mr. Mattison-Shupnick is a master optician who is also an All About Vision editorial advisory board member.)

The book is viewable on iPads, Kindles, other eBook readers, other IOS and Android devices, and computers.

Plus, you can download the Sight: Story of Vision Second Screen App, also available on the documentary website and directly from Apple’s App Store. The app provides terminology definitions related to the documentary as well as expanded video content.

The eBook was underwritten by a grant from contact lens manufacturer CooperVision. Development of the app was supported by eyeglass lens manufacturer Essilor.

New Documentary On Human Vision Narrated By Sir Elton John #

September 2016 — Sight: The Story of Vision, a documentary on scientific, medical and technological aspects of human vision, is set to premiere on October 13 (World Sight Day).

The one-hour film will broadcast on public television and features Sir Elton John as narrator.

It tells the story of how people discovered how our eyes work, as well as how to improve our eyesight and even restore it when it is lost.

Online content will also be available for viewers of Sight: The Story of Vision, in the form of apps, a downloadable eBook and a companion website StoryofSight.com.

One interesting detail about the documentary is that its writer and director Kris Koenig decided to apply color correction to the film so people with red-green color confusion could distinguish those colors better while watching. He did this after trying a pair of EnChroma eyeglasses, which are custom-tinted to help people with various types of colorblindness.

Computerized Visual Training Game Is Believed To Stall Dementia #

August 2016 — There’s new hope for baby boomers who are fast approaching the age at which they will be most vulnerable to developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. A new study of 2,802 seniors has led researchers to conclude that an inexpensive intervention involving visual training exercises can cut the likelihood of cognitive decline by nearly half over a 10-year period.

The ACTIVE study — short for Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly — was funded by the National Institute on Aging. All participants were cognitively healthy seniors with an average age of 73.4 at the study’s start. They were divided into four study groups:

  • No training
  • Classroom-based course designed to impart strategies aimed at boosting memory
  • Classroom-based course designed to sharpen participants’ reasoning skills
  • Computerized training designed to increase the speed at which the brain picks up and processes cues in a person’s field of vision

The participants who received training got 10 hour-long training sessions over a five-week period.

The results over the study’s 10-year follow-up showed that 14 percent of participants who received no training suffered significant cognitive decline or dementia. Two of the three treatment groups fared slightly better: significant cognitive decline or dementia occurred in 11.4 percent of the memory-strategies training group, and in 11.7 percent in the reasoning-strategies training group.

In the group who received computerized training to improve speed of processing, 10.5 percent experienced these conditions; however, when significant cognitive decline or dementia appeared, it came later.

Statistically speaking, the cumulative risk of developing cognitive decline or dementia over 10 years was 33 percent lower for those who had received the visual processing training compared with those who got no training at all. And when researchers gave a small group of seniors a refresher class 11 and 35 months after the initial training, the risk of cognitive decline or dementia went down even further — making them 48 percent less likely over 10 years to experience dementia or cognitive decline.

The computerized brain-training program is called “Double Decision.” It uses a gaming format that exercises an individual’s ability to detect, remember and respond to cues that appear and disappear quickly in varying locations on a computer screen. It uses colorful graphics and challenges players with escalating difficulty as their proficiency increases.

FDA Approves New Prescription Eye Drop For Dry Eye Disease #

July 2016 — A twice-daily eye drop called Xiidra (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) 5% has received FDA approval for treatment of both signs and symptoms of dry eye disease in adults. The biotechnology company Shire manufactures Xiidra and plans to launch it in the United States this quarter.

“The clinical program supporting the approval of Xiidra is the largest for an investigational-stage dry eye disease candidate to date, including more than 2,500 patients,” said Edward Holland, MD, in a company release. Dr. Holland is professor of clinical ophthalmology, University of Cincinnati, and a clinical trial investigator for Xiidra.

“The clinical trial program design took into consideration many of the challenges of past dry eye research,” he continued. “It’s exciting to see Xiidra as the first prescription eye drop FDA-approved for both the signs and symptoms of the condition.”

In the safety/efficacy study, 1,067 patients received the drops in four placebo-controlled 12-week trials. In two of the trials, an improvement in the patient-reported eye dryness score was seen at two weeks. In three of the trials, an improvement in the inferior corneal staining score was seen at 12 weeks.

The most common adverse reactions reported in 5 to 25 percent of patients were instillation site irritation, altered taste sensation (dysgeusia) and reduced visual acuity.

Take The See Change Challenge — And Change The World! #

July 2016 — Eyeglass lens manufacturer Essilor wants YOU — that is, wants your ideas on how to help vision care providers in underserved areas of the world to accurately measure eye refractive errors.

Have an idea for a better way to provide eye exams in underserved areas of the world? You could make life better for billions of people.

More than 2.5 billion people live with uncorrected poor vision, and 95 percent of them live in countries where eye care is difficult to obtain or practically non-existent. They can’t go to an eye doctor’s office and get eye exams with up-to-date instruments. They can’t get eyewear. With uncorrected vision, they can’t learn in school or work to support their families.

So Essilor has launched the See Change Challenge, an initiative to find low-cost, easy-to-use, scalable software, hardware, or other solutions to enable more people to be easily trained to become eye care workers in less developed areas.

The Challenge is open to anyone, including app developers, universities, vision scientists, engineers, startup organizations and optometrists. Up to five winners of the first phase of the Challenge will each earn 25,000 € in cash and will have the opportunity to be in the second phase. Up to two final winners will receive 100,000 € in cash.

Essilor will potentially support the final winners with development contracts to help them build and scale up their solution.

Want to change the world? Visit the See Change Challenge website for details, and submit your entry by October 21. The first phase winners will be announced in January.

Celebrate National Sunglasses Day #

June 2016 — Monday the 27th is The Vision Council’s National Sunglasses Day, but protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV rays is important every day.

The more exposure your eyes have to sunlight without sunglasses throughout your life, the greater your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and more — even on cloudy days. After a day in the sun without sunglasses, UV rays can also cause immediate, temporary issues like red eyes and sensitivity to light.

Don’t let excuses prevent you from protecting your eyes. Get multiple pairs of sunglasses and keep spare shades in your car, so you’re not caught without them.

According to The Vision Council, these are the top four excuses for not wearing sunglasses while outdoors:

  • “I don’t have them with me” — 28%
  • “I forgot to put them on” — 26%
  • “I’m not outside long enough to put them on” — 17%
  • “I don’t own prescription sunglasses” — 11%

Celebrate National Sunglasses Day by making sure your family always wears shades while outside. On June 27, post a sunglass selfie to your favorite social media outlet with the hashtag #NationalSunglassesDay to promote the importance of UV protection for eyes. — N.B.

May Is Healthy Vision Month #

May 2016 — The National Eye Institute (NEI) and partners like AllAboutVision.com are encouraging everyone to take make eye health a priority. Throughout Healthy Vision Month, try focusing on these five aspects of eye health:

  • Get a dilated eye exam and make sure your family does, too.
  • Take steps toward living a healthy lifestyle, with plenty of exercise and a nutritious diet.
  • Learn about your family’s health history. Ask if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease.
  • Make sure you have protective eyewear available at work, at home and for sports.
  • Always wear sunglasses outdoors, and make sure everyone in your family has a pair — even babies!

Taking these steps can help prevent vision loss or blindness from many eye diseases and conditions.

More than 23 million American adults have never had an eye exam, according to a national survey by the NEI. A popular reason for not having an eye exam is that people think if they see fine, they don’t need one. However, comprehensive dilated eye exams can detect problems early, often before they noticeably affect your vision.

New Study Estimates That 108 Million People Are Living With Visual Impairment That Is Correctable #

March 2016 — If you have access to eyewear and eye care, you’re lucky. Many people don’t, and the result is that they have trouble learning in school, getting a job and even feeding their families. Not to mention the fact that they can’t enjoy the gift of good vision.

A new study has found that 101 million people have moderate to severe refractive error (such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism) that is uncorrected. In other words, they don’t have eyeglasses or contact lenses to help them see.

Children in Raxaul, Bihar state, India. In poor areas like this, many are visually impaired because they lack access to both eye care and eyewear. This limits their ability to go to school and find employment. (Image: Alenq / Shutterstock.com)

And at least seven million people are actually blind from correctable refractive errors, often because they need cataract surgery.

The researchers analyzed data from nearly 250 studies performed between 1990 and 2010, but since they lack data for some regions, these estimates are likely lower than the actual numbers.

“Our data again emphasizes that globally one of the most simple, effective, and cost-effective ways to improve the burden of vision loss would be to provide access to affordable adequate spectacles to correct refractive errors with the appropriate human resources,” said Kovin Naidoo, OD, PhD, of Brien Holden Vision Institute, Durban, South Africa. Dr. Naidoo wrote the study report, which appeared in the March issue of Optometry and Vision Science.

Zika Virus Now Thought To Cause Retinal Lesions, In Addition To Microcephaly #

February 2016 — The Zika virus has quickly reached epidemic proportions in Brazil and is now rapidly spreading to other parts of the Americas — including Hawaii, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed the birth of a microcephalic baby whose Brazilian mother was infected with Zika.

This type of mosquito is known to carry the Zika virus, which seems to be causing both microcephaly and vision-threatening retinal lesions in newborns.

It is estimated that, in 2015 alone, more than one million Brazilians have had Zika virus infections. The infection, which is usually transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is rarely life-threatening. Typically, individuals experience a short-lived fever, nonspecific rash and joint pain. Conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache have also been reported. Some experience no symptoms at all.

But when infection occurs during pregnancy, complications are far more severe, most often causing microcephaly. In fact, six months after the onset of the Zika outbreak in Brazil, there was a 20-fold increase in newborns with microcephaly. By January 4 of this year, the Brazilian Ministry of Health had reported 3,174 microcephalic newborns.

Now, according to a study report published in JAMA Ophthalmology, it appears that microcephaly isn’t the only risk that Zika poses to newborns. In the study, nearly 35 percent of 29 babies with presumed Zika virus-associated microcephaly also have vision-threatening lesions — most often on both of their retinas.

Millions of people are believed to have been infected with the Zika virus. And in Brazil, where it’s spreading fastest, testing for Zika is not readily available. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can perform serologic testing. However, the mild nature of the symptoms means the illness often goes unnoticed and isn’t reported.

Considering that the infection causing microcephaly and retinal lesions typically occurs during the first or second trimester of pregnancy, it has been suggested that women in the areas of the epidemic consider not getting pregnant. And it is recommended that pregnant women, especially during their first two trimesters, not travel to areas where the disease is epidemic. — A.H.

The Hard-To-Read Card That May Have Tripped Up Steve Harvey #

December 2015 — Did carelessness, excitement, nerves, spotlights or presbyopia cause Steve Harvey to announce mistakenly that Miss Colombia had won the Miss Universe title instead of Miss Philippines?

Nobody knows for sure. But we suspect that partly to blame was the design of the card that Harvey was referring to when he announced the winner.

This type of mosquito is known to carry the Zika virus, which seems to be causing both microcephaly and vision-threatening retinal lesions in newborns.

The layout is inconsistent, for one thing. And the type size is minuscule!

We don’t know what kind of vision correction Harvey uses, or whether he has had presbyopia-correcting surgery. Hopefully, the next time he’s called upon to read something onstage, it will be designed for a middle-aged person to read. — L.S.

Three Ways Climate Change Can Harm Your Eyes #

December 2015 — Most of the body’s organs are internal, which helps shield them from direct environmental assault. But the eye, which is one of the most essential and complex sensory organs we have, is largely unprotected most of the day. This leaves it particularly vulnerable to environmental factors like climate change.

The dangers posed by environmental factors have been researched extensively in recent years and were the subject of a recent National Institutes of Health symposium that focused on the impact of climate change on human health.

At the meeting, Sheila West, PhD, vice chair for research at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, detailed the three most likely ways that environmental change can affect our eyes.

The first has to do with the expansion of arid regions in the United States and around the globe. As areas of the planet get hotter and less humid, people who suffer from dry eye may see an escalation in symptoms. And since dry eye doesn’t always produce symptoms early on, more and more people may recognize that they have the condition and start seeking treatment that they may not have otherwise needed.

Climate change also can affect our eyes due to increases in airborne particulates. Dr. West pointed to longer fire seasons and crop clearing as key offenders, emitting pollutants that can cause serious harm to the eyes. In fact, in Dr. West’s own research, eye irritants from smoke emitted by cooking fires led to increased scarring of the eyelids and cornea in people with trachoma, which is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide.

A third way that environmental changes can be harmful to our eyes relates to depletion of the protective ozone layer in the Earth’s atmosphere, which absorbs most of the damaging (UV) rays emitted by the sun. Though recent international treaties may help reverse damage to the ozone layer, the repair will take decades. In the meantime, UV exposure remains a risk factor for cataracts and other eye diseases.

Dr. West estimates that UV exposure will lead to an additional 150,000 to 200,000 cases of cataract by 2050, with a price tag exceeding one billion dollars for care and surgical treatment. And that’s in addition to the huge number of cases that would otherwise be diagnosed. — A.H.

Why You See Yellow On A Digital Screen — Even When It’s Not There #

November 2015 — When you look at a picture of a lemon on a digital screen, be it on a phone, tablet, or your desktop, what color is it?

If you think it’s yellow, you’re wrong.

An interesting video by Vsauce called “This Is Not Yellow” explains how digital screens can fool our brains into seeing certain colors, even when those colors aren’t actually being displayed.

The video also discusses optical illusions created by modern artists, electricity given off by fruits and how quickly historical events can slide out of our collective memory. Enjoy!

Participants Wanted For Test Of Retinal Progenitor Cells In Potential Retinitis Pigmentosa Treatment #

September 2015 — More participants are wanted for testing the safety of a new retinitis pigmentosa (RP) treatment. The University of California, Irvine-led study is the first to test retinal progenitor cells to treat RP; the cells are similar to stem cells except they are specific to the retina of the eye.

This type of mosquito is known to carry the Zika virus, which seems to be causing both microcephaly and vision-threatening retinal lesions in newborns.

Four participants who are visually disabled due to RP have received injections so far, in either Irvine or Los Angeles. Total enrollment will be 16 patients.

All will receive topical anesthesia followed by one injection of cells into the worse-seeing eye. Then they will be monitored for a year to determine safety and efficacy of the treatment.

The treatment was created by Dr. Henry Klassen and Dr. Jing Yang. It is designed to prevent vision loss by protecting the degenerating photoreceptors in the retina. It is also thought that the treatment could potentially reactivate the photoreceptors. Contact the UCI Alpha Stem Cell Clinic at 949-824-3990 or stemcell@uci.edu for more information or to enroll.

Eyeball Tattooing Worst Idea Ever #

August 2015 — Two cases of horrible effects of eyeball tattooing were reported recently, and they make clear just how dangerous this practice is to vision and eye health.

In one case, a 43-year-old man had red swellings on both eyes; the red color was from dye used in eyeball tattooing (also called episcleral tattooing) he’d undergone seven weeks before. After six months the redness had faded a little, but the lumps persisted.

You may not want to see photos, but in case you do, you may read the case report in the journal BMC Ophthalmology.

The authors of the case study said that episcleral tattooing is done by people with no medical training and that results have included severe light sensitivity and a persistent feeling that something is in the eye. Even scarier risks include infection, bleeding, traumatic cataracts, retinal detachment, blinding uveitis and even malignancy.

In the second case, a 49-year-old man had reduced visual acuity, severe inflammation and bluish-green deposits in his eyes. He underwent a lensectomy, vitrectomy and retinal re-attachment, plus an attempt to remove the blue particles and treatment for the inflammation. Some of the blue particles remained on the retinal surface and in other eye tissues even after treatment. By the way, the man denied the tattooing had occurred.

The case was described this month in a letter to the editor of Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology, and the authors urged more awareness of “the potentially blinding procedure of eyeball tattooing.”

Bono and Revo Are Raising Funds For People Who Desperately Need Eye Care And Glasses #

July 2015 — Bono is partnering with the sunglass brand Revo to raise $10 million to improve access to eye exams and prescription eyewear for people in under-resourced places around the world. The “Buy Vision, Give Sight” program will provide $10 from the sale of every pair of Revo sunglasses to help the non-profit Brien Holden Vision Institute pay for basic eye care and train people to provide eye care and detect eye diseases in their communities.

Bono, who was diagnosed with glaucoma 20 years ago, says that “sight is a human right.” He will appear in Revo advertisements supporting the initiative and will exclusively wear Revo sunglasses during U2’s Innocence + Experience World Tour.

Bono wearing Revo Raconteur with Blue Water lenses for the “Buy Vision, Give Sight” campaign to prevent vision impairment and blindness. (Photo: Sam Jones Photography)

“Thanks to good medical care my eyes are okay, but tens of millions of people around the world with sight problems don’t have access to glasses, or even a basic eye test,” he says.

“Poor eyesight may not be life-threatening, but it dramatically affects your life and your livelihood if you aren’t able to fix it. When we met with experts, they said the number one problem is untreated poor vision, which prevents a child from learning in school, or an adult from performing their job.”

Bono calls the Brien Holden Vision Institute’s efforts “remarkable” and “mind-expanding.” He has also designed a capsule collection of five sunglass styles for Revo, debuting in late fall. The sales of those styles will also generate $10 per pair for the “Buy Vision, Give Sight” campaign.

Different Colored Eyes Day #

July 2015 — Different Colored Eyes Day is Sunday, July 12, and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about this unusual phenomenon. As it grows, the human body generally follows the rule of left-right symmetry, where one half of the body mirrors the other in structure and appearance. But sometimes one eye’s iris has an excess or lack of the pigment melanin, so one eye may be a different color than the other.

An inherited gene may cause this heterochromia iridum (also called heterochromia iridis). Or it may result from disease or injury. Another type of heterochromia in the eyes is sectoral heterochromia, where one part of the iris is a different color than the rest.

Actress Kate Bosworth has one hazel eye and one blue eye (heterochromia iridum). (Photo: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com)

Many animals are prone to having different colored eyes, including certain breeds of dogs (such as Australian shepherds and Siberian huskies) and cats (such as Turkish Vans). Quite a few famous people reportedly have them, too, such as Kate Bosworth, Mila Kunis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joe Pesci and Alyson Hannigan. And though we don’t have a photo of Alexander the Great, he reportedly had one blue eye and one brown eye.

We don’t know who came up with the idea of having a Different Colored Eyes Day, but it’s a good way to celebrate the differences among us that make each living thing unique and special! Read more about eye color, as well as what causes hazel eyes and why many think green eyes are the most attractive.

Old Eye Infection Remedy Containing Onion And Garlic Effective Against MRSA #

May 2015 — It’s hard to imagine that a concoction made of onion, garlic, wine and cow stomach bile (oxgall) could be anything but sickening. But it was once recommended for eye infections.

The mixture, found in a ninth-century Old English medical text called Bald’s Leechbook, was recently applied to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) in test tubes and in wounds. And it worked: the medicine killed 90 percent of the bacteria, which is very resistant to many antibiotics.

But how did it work? That’s a mystery for now, though scientists have theorized that perhaps the combination of ingredients forms a new molecule.

Or perhaps each ingredient is effective in its own way and the combination is too much for the bacteria to resist.

Whatever the case, it’s possible that some form of “Bald’s salve” will be developed for future use against MRSA and other scary bacteria.

The Color Of Light Can Tell Us What Time Of Day It Is #

May 2015 — We all know that our body clocks respond to how much light is in our environment, but now scientists have found that we are also affected by the color of the light. For example, light is bluer at twilight, and that can give us clues as to what time of day it is.

Researchers at the University of Manchester recorded electrical activity in mice who were shown visual stimuli and found that many of their cells were more sensitive to changes in color between blue and yellow than to changes in the brightness of the light.

They then constructed an artificial sky over the mice to display changes in color and brightness that occur each day. The body temperatures of the mice peaked just after nightfall, when the light became a darker blue. In contrast, when just the brightness of the sky was changed and not the color, the mice were more active before twilight.

The researchers theorized that color could be used to manipulate the body clock of humans such as shift workers or travellers, to help them adjust to unusual schedules or time zones. Results of the study appeared in PLOS Biology in late April.


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