Seasons greetings! As the weather gets colder everyone gets busy. Your eyes have to last you a lifetime, so taking care of them is incredibly important. Your lifestyle can cause significant strain on your eye health and can have a harmful effect on your sight, especially as you grow older. Here are some Tips to take good care of your eye health…
French-speaking countries in West Africa joined forces to eliminate trachoma, the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness, under a new initiative spearheaded by The Task Force’s International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). Representatives discussed funding, logistics, and supply-chain management issues around the mass drug administration of antibiotic for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem. Read more
In a conference held in Edinburgh titled “Eye Development and Degeneration 2017”, scientists said that they have identified chemical changes in the eye that can lead to blindness. Their findings aid understanding of a genetic condition that causes sight loss for one in 3,000 people in the UK. Read more
July is UV Safety Month
UV radiation can damage your eyes as well as your skin. Studies suggest that overexposure to UV radiation can cause eye cataracts, eye damage, and suppression of the immune system, in general. May they be your family, friends, or colleagues – everyone is equally at risk for eye damage due to overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
The sun’s UV rays can burn the cornea of your eyes, which can result in cataracts that may ultimately cause blindness. Even short periods of exposure can lead to serious damage. Read more
Twenty years ago, a team of scientists at the University of Cambridge developed a test of ‘cognitive empathy’ called the ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’ Test (or the Eyes Test, for short). This revealed that people can rapidly interpret what another person is thinking or feeling from looking at their eyes alone. It also showed that some of us are better at this than others, and that women on average score better on this test than men. Read more
For many it’s a simple choice – if you have problems with your eyesight, see an optometrist. As we get older, most of us will probably need glasses, particularly for those that spent most of the working life hunched over a computer all day long. But this once seemingly straightforward profession of optometry is changing, rapidly. And these changes which are coming to the field of optometry may very well signal things to come in other areas of health service as well. Read more
Among those to receive the 2017 IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year Awards is Jordanian optometrist and Chairman of the optometry department at Amman Ahliyah University, Dr. Yazan Gammoh. Clinically focusing on keratoconus management using scleral contact lenses, as well as, low vision management in adults, Dr. Gammoh has spent 5 years lecturing and training at universities, symposia, and conferences in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) introduced the award way back in 2014 “to recognize and reward achievements in contact lens education worldwide”, which grants one educator from each of IACLE’s global regions, namely, Asia Pacific, Europe/Africa/Middle East, and the Americas.
Also receiving the award are Prof. Jan Bergmanson (USA), Prof. Koon-Ja Lee (Korea), and Prof. Martha Lucila Márquez García (Colombia). The presentation proper will be held on June 11, 2017 in Liverpool, UK.
The theme of World Health Day 2017 is depression. Various studies conducted by ophthalmologists and researchers show that adults with vision loss were 90 percent more likely to have clinical symptoms of major depression. In addition, they specified that the connection between vision loss and depression is likely to be “bidirectional,” with the disability worsening depression and depression exacerbating disability.
“Improved access to screening, diagnosis, and treatment of depression by eye care professionals and primary care providers may help to reduce the burden of depression-related excess disability and improve the quality of life among people with vision loss,” they noted.
Glaucoma affects at least one in every 25 people aged 40 years and above in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It occurs as a result of the intraocular pressure (eye pressure [IOP]) being too high for the normal functioning of the optic nerve which is responsible for sight. Despite the vision loss that it causes, over half of the people with glaucoma are unaware and this is reflected in their late presentation in seeking care. A staggering 50% have already lost vision in one eye and are at high risk of losing vision in the second eye by the time they seek treatment.
There are three main modalities for treatment of glaucoma: medical, surgical or laser therapy. The choice of intervention currently depends on several factors related to the patient: stage/severity at presentation, compliance with health instruction, socio-economic status influencing ability to afford medicines and care, and residence in relation to follow-up. For example, the literate relative of a medical doctor may have medical therapy with 3-monthly follow-up; whereas for a rural non-schooled farmer, the better option may be a one-off surgical treatment (trabeculectomy) with follow-up in the local health centre.
The aim of treatment is to lower the IOP in order to prevent or slow down further vision loss, as any vision already lost cannot be restored. The prognosis when explained is often a source of anxiety to the newly diagnosed patients. Some patients do not accept their diagnosis nor comply with the treatment plan nor accept the prognosis. This leads them to seek multiple opinions in different hospitals, hopping and hoping.
Mrs CP is a 61-year old woman diagnosed with open-angle glaucoma:
“The vision impairment came in my adulthood. In fact, I did not know I had vision impairment, it came quite slowly. Now they say I have to use eye drops for the rest of my life. I cannot even find the drugs to buy and when I find they are so expensive, I cannot afford to buy. Even putting the eye drops is a problem as much of it runs down my face. And it stings.
My vision has worsened. I am tired. I have gone around so many eye clinics without any improvement. In fact, the teaching hospital is worst. I can hardly see and I was asked to go to so many points, pay so many times, wait for so long before I could see the specialist. And to think I have to do this for the rest of my life…Ah!!
I was already blind in one eye and the other eye is also going. Now they said I should have operation in my better eye… God forbid bad thing!! Let me just manage, when I have the money, I will buy the eye drops from the chemist.”
It is, therefore, imperative that we set our current priorities to:
1. Optimising treatment and patients’ care – i.e. doing the best for those who seek care.
2. Responding to patients’ perspectives with patients’ participation.
Strengthening clinical services would include training in surgical skills, laser procedures and building teams for optimal glaucoma care, for better treatment outcomes. Ensuring that effective medicines are available within well-equipped centres would also expand the treatment choices. Additionally, national guidelines and protocols would be helpful in optimising the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Population-based surveys in SSA indicate that only about 10% of glaucoma patients seek hospital treatment. Additionally, there is a challenge in keeping patients within the health care system. To engage the patient, there should be counselling to enhance their understanding of the disease and encourage participation of the patient in their choice of therapy and compliance with treatment. The ease of financing mechanisms for their treatment is also important. Additional efforts should be geared towards providing a pleasant hospital experience so that a follow-up visit would entail a one-stop shop.
Eye care providers working together with patients with glaucoma will enhance better treatment outcomes in SSA and together they can be BIG; Beat Invisible Glaucoma.
The article above was written by Fatima Kyari, Consultant Ophthalmologist, IAPB West Africa Chair.
Many astronauts who come back from space experience poorer vision after flight, some even years after, and researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are working to see why.
Brian Samuels, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, and his fellow collaborators from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University recently received a grant to study computational modeling as a method of determining why astronauts who are in space for extended periods of time are experiencing eye pathologies. Samuels is collaborating with scientists at the NASA Glenn Research Center, and others, to help identify the cause of these pathologies, and determine whether there is a way to intervene and prevent these types of vision complications in the future.
“We know that, if astronauts are in space for extended amounts of time, they have a higher propensity for developing pathologies similar to increased intracranial pressure,” Samuels said. “We are trying to incorporate all of the existing clinical and research data into functional computational models of the eye itself, the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system to determine how they are interacting.”
He says these computational models should answer some of the questions as to “why this is happening to our astronauts.”
The length of time astronauts stayed in space changed in the mid-2000s when the International Space Station started being used. Space shuttle missions typically lasted two weeks, but now the ISS missions may last six months or longer. Astronauts were no longer going up to space and quickly coming back down to Earth.
It was around this time the scientific community noticed that longer durations in space, in microgravity, caused a larger propensity for changes in the eye.
Many astronauts who experience these vision issues are encountering a hyperopic shift in their vision, meaning they gradually become farsighted. Astronauts can develop folds in the retina, experience swelling of the optic disk and also have distention of the optic nerve sheath behind the eye. Some astronauts who have returned from a mission are still experiencing vision issues five years later. Samuels and his colleagues believe there may be some permanent remodeling changes in the eye after extended periods of time in space.
“Given that one of NASA’s primary goals is to send someone to Mars, this will be the longest amount of time humans have spent in space thus far,” Samuels said. “If we are able to identify risk factors that might predispose someone to these types of issues in space, the computational models could become a screening tool for future astronauts.”
Samuels says he also wants to find the direct cause behind these eye pathologies in an effort to develop tools to halt this process for astronauts in space.
“If an astronaut is six months from coming home and is already experiencing vision-related issues, we want to temporize any further damage that may occur,” he said.
Samuels’ role in this project is to interpret clinical and research data that informs the computational modeling and relay back to the other investigators whether the output data obtained from the models is realistic. As a clinician-scientist, he can take information that is gathered from research studies, clinical studies and computational modeling in the lab, and compare it to real-world scenarios in a clinic.
C. Ross Ethier, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the project lead.
“Dr. Samuels helps ground us in clinical reality by relating effects in space to clinical conditions on Earth, detailing pathophysiologic processes at the cellular level to clinical outcomes,” Ethier said. “He is an incredible resource for our team and the broader space physiology community.”
Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham. (2017, February 27). Preserving vision for astronauts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 7, 2017 from Science Daily.