Videos on Macular Degeneration Research

July 29, 2009

Here are some videos on research into future treatments for AMD (Macular Degeneration).


Johns Hopkins Publishes Several Low Vision White Papers.

July 29, 2009

Herb Halbrecht sends us this news.

The Johns Hopkins Clinic has published sevral white papers on Low Vision and its Rehabilitation. Some are inexpensive, such as their comprehensive Vision 2009. It costs $20. Preview it now, and you’ll discover:

What Vitamin may lower your risk of developing cataracts (page 5)
Medications that may cause or worsen dry eye (page 9)
What to expect after cataract surgery. Tips to ease your recovery (page 14)
Glaucoma and your genes. Researchers uncover new genetic causes of glaucoma—what does it mean for you? (page 20)
Vision-friendly foods: More evidence that what you eat could impact your eyesight (page 38)
Looking to the future: four potential treatments for AMD. Get a peek into the drug development pipeline. (page 44)

The 2009 Johns Hopkins White Paper: Vision is designed to help you ensure the best outcome.

Several white papers are free, covering such topics as:

  • Glaucoma: A Family Matter
  • How the Eye Works
  • Learning More About Antioxidants and Age-Related Macular Degeneration
  • Herpes Virus, Shingles and Vision Loss
  • Artificial Vision thru Artificial Retinas — New frontiers in sight
  • Cornea Thickness — A Risk Factor for Glaucoma
  • Dealing with a Detached Retina
  • Deciding Whether To Have Cataract Surgery

Smoking Strong Predictor for Age Related Macular Degeneration

July 27, 2009

Like many diseases, causes for age-related macular degeneration can be categorized as either “nature” or “nurture”. Researchers think these factors, when used in the proper model, can be strong predictors of the disease.

Age-related macular degeneration is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older.

A study shows that multiple genetic, ocular and environmental factors, including six genetic variants, age, smoking and body mass index heavily contribute to the incidence of macular degeneration. Because all of these factors are related to macular degeneration, they were combined and used to develop a predictive and possibly diagnostic model.

Over 1,400 individuals in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) with an average follow-up time of 6.3 years were evaluated, and genetic specimens were genotyped in the collaborator’s lab in Boston.

Their research also shows that although age-related macular degeneration has a strong genetic component, healthy behaviors can modify your genetic susceptibility. For example, among individuals with one genotype, the homozygous C3 risk genotype, the likelihood of progression to the advanced form of age-related macular degeneration increased from about three-fold for nonsmokers to nearly 10-fold for smokers.

1. Johanna M. Seddon, et al. Prediction Model for Prevalence and Incidence of Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration Based on Genetic, Demographic, and Environmental Variables. Originally published In Press as doi:10.1167/iovs.08-3064 on December 30, 2008 Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2009;50:2044-2053.

New Radiation Treatment to Save Macular Degeneration Being Tested

July 22, 2009


Macular degeneration, often called AMD or ARMD (age-related macular degeneration), is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans aged 60 and older. Because older people represent an increasingly larger percentage of the general population, vision loss from macular degeneration is a growing problem.

AMD occurs with degeneration of the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive. Because the macula primarily is affected in AMD, central vision loss may occur.

It is estimated that 1.75 million U.S. residents had advanced age-related macular degeneration with associated vision loss, with that number expected to grow to almost 3 million by 2020 and 18 million by 2050.

Treatment for Macular degeneration typically involved monthly injections that stop the vessels in the eye from growing. This treatment usually didn’t last very long. A new technique could save a person’s sight … along with their lifestyle.  The revolutionary new treatment is being tested in clinical trials.  Doctors use a small probe that delivers targeted low-dose radiation to the eye. The radiation will damage abnormal blood vessels without affecting the healthy parts of the eye. Then surgeons inject a dose of the traditional medication. They say the radiation-drug combo is more powerful, lasts longer and could eliminate the need for monthly injections.

Two retina specialists at Baptist Hospital in Nashville are very excited about this new radiation technique.

Dr. Peter SonkinDr. Peter Sonkin

Dr. Peter Sonkin comments: “It’s a big impact on lifestyle for the patients. Patients use to have to come in once a month, sometimes for a year or two or longer.”

Dr. Carl AwhDr. Carl Awh

Dr. Carl Awh on the radiation: “The amount of radiation exposure to the body from going through this procedure is less than one would get flying from New York to Los Angeles in a plane.”

If the trial is successful in the U.S., the treatment could be available in less than two years.


Newark’s Oraya Therapeutics lands $42M more for Wet AMD Treatment Trial

July 22, 2009

Oraya, which now has raised $64 million in little more than two years, will use the latest round of cash to expand its clinical trials for its treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness.

The 22-employee company’s treatment uses what it calls the IRay system, a robotically controlled, localized dose of low-energy X-ray radiation to the macula. The system is designed to be placed in almost any medical setting, the company said.

EyeFine – New Autofocus Telescopic Eyeware

July 22, 2009

EyeFINE is a revolutionary new Low Vision aid. It is an auto focus telescopic system that merges both passive auto focus and active infrared auto focus technology to aid patients with vision loss.

With EyeFINE, many Low Vision patients can read, watch TV, view their computer screens, watch sporting events or religious services and do many other things. EyeFINE’s auto focus technology will instantly focus wherever the patient looks. The wider field, bright image and instant focus make EyeFINE easy to use. Developed at Japan’s Miyazaki Eye Hospital, it works on the same principle as an autofocus digital camera.EyeFine 1

The key features of this system include the very wide, bright visual field and the automatic focus at any distance from 12 inches to infinity with both passive and active focus. Passive focus even allows EyeFINE to focus through the windshield of a car.

It sells for $2,200. Ocutech’s VES-Autofocus retails for $4,000.

Demo video available at

Blind Photographers Use Gadgets to Realize Artistic Vision

July 20, 2009

When a brain tumor caused professional photographer Alex Dejong to lose his eyesight three years ago, he turned to gadgets to continue making his art.

Carrying around a Nokia N82 cellphone, Dejong used assistive software to translate sounds into visuals in his mind. After stitching together a mental image of his surroundings, he snapped photos with his Canon and Leica digital cameras.

But Dejong’s blindness is acute: He can only perceive light and dark. Because Dejong could not see his own photographs, he hired an assistant for editing. Until recently, editing was a part of the creative workflow that he thought he’d lost forever. And then to his surprise, Apple’s iPhone 3GS, which launched late June, gave him back the ability to edit photos.

Blind photo

The new iPhone has a feature called VoiceOver, which reads back anything a user places his finger over on the screen: e-mail, web pages, system preferences and so on. Beyond that, photo-editing applications such as CameraBag and Tilt-Shift perform automated editing tasks that blind users like Dejong could not otherwise do on their own.

“With the iPhone and a lot of the photography apps that a lot of people are using, I have my entire workflow, and I can do it in five minutes,” Dejong said. “In this way, the iPhone is a remarkable gift. I’ve had it for three weeks now, and it has really opened up my world, apart from the photography.”

Dejong is part of an online community called Blind Photographers, where similarly handicapped shutterbugs share their work and photography tips. Because blindness is variable from person to person, the shooters each develop a different methodology to suit their visual impairment, said Tim O’Brien, a member of the organization and a freelance newspaper photographer for Chapel Hill News.

After the necessary preparation, O’Brien snaps photos with his Nikon D40X DSLR and applies edits with the image application Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. His photography process, then, is not much different from a non-handicapped shooter. He just takes much longer than most digital shooters — about as long as a photographer using film, he says.

“I can’t tell if the camera is in focus, or any of the details,” O’Brien explained. “I’ll go home and find lots of interesting things that I didn’t know that I had. That’s not dissimilar to how photographers worked in the film days, when they didn’t know what their camera took until they developed film.”,8599,1899017,00.html