Hallucinations and Macular Degeneration

April 8, 2010

The following item is from the Macular Degeneration Foundation.

A 93 year-old woman with severe macular degeneration began to have hallucinations. After being examined at the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell Medical Center in New York City. They found nothing wrong with her brain, but no explanation for the hallucinations. Her daughter researched the problem on the Internet and found that the syndrome is well known in England.

In 1769, Charles Bonnet described this condition. ‘Sufferers who are mentally healthy people with significant visual loss have vivid, complex, and recurrent visual hallucinations.’ The retina is badly damaged by macular degeneration and sends strange messages to the brain that gets confused and tries to interpret these jumbled messages which results in hallucinations. Quite simply, it is a damaged retina, not a damaged brain. This knowledge informs and consoles the individual who may experience hallucinations with macular degeneration.

All individuals with macular degeneration, retinal disease or severe visual loss and all doctors who serve them should be aware of the occurrence of hallucinations that might accompany their disease.



New Topical Eye Drop for the Treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration

April 6, 2010

Pazopanib, an investigational topical therapy for wet macular degeneration, shows positive beneficial results in clinical studies, Says Dr. Ilan Cohen, a New York City Ophthalmologist.

There are currently two drugs available for the treatment of Macular Degeneration: Lucentis, and Avastin. These drugs have been found effective both in preventing the progression of the disease and in improving overall visual acuity; however, both of these medications need to be injected into the eye with a needle every month, indefinitely, in order to prevent progression of the disease. In addition to the pain and the discomfort of receiving an injection into the eye each month, the patients are also exposed to the risk of a catastrophic eye infection due to a needle penetrating the eye. Moreover, the very high cost of the medication along with its administration by an Ophthalmologist can become a large burden on the healthcare budget and patients without insurance may not be able to afford it.

Pazopanib, on the other hand, can be administered as topical eye drops. The active molecule in Pazopanib works to prevent irregular blood vessels and subsequent bleeding under the macula. If this medication is proven effective in subsequent clinical studies and is approved by the FDA, patients with macular degeneration may be relieved of the nightmare of receiving monthly eye injections.


Winners Announced from AMD Alliance International Film Contest

April 3, 2010

More than 40 videos were submitted from every corner of the world to AMD Alliance International’s first global film competition aimed at raising awareness of the condition known as age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the western world for people over 50. AMD Alliance International (AMDAI) announced the winners of the contest today.

Awareness of AMD is critical to managing the disease. Although the disease will reach epidemic proportions as baby boomers age, is linked to depression, and can often be prevented or halted, research has shown that even among people most at risk, acquiring AMD is not viewed as a major concern. AMDAI’s film contest was aimed at educating the general public as well as those at high risk about this serious condition.

The winning video was an animated short film entitled “Eyes.” The video was submitted by Adam Mosher, 22, an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph, near Toronto, ON. In just 55 seconds, the video delivers key messages concerning the risk factors, effects and treatment options for AMD. Mosher will receive the $10,000 (US) grand prize and the video will be used in the future as part of AMDAI’s communications efforts.

The winning video can be seen on YouTube:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZoVXG-3Ke4

All of the videos entered in the contest can be viewed here:


“The videos accomplish the goal of illustrating, quite literally in many cases, what it is like to have AMD and what can be done about it,” said Allie Laban-Baker, Vice President, Global Communications, AMDAI. “We believe they are entertaining and engaging, while serving an important public health purpose—alerting people about this very serious disease.”


Converts Any Windows Mobile Phone to KNFB Reader Equivalent

April 2, 2010

LookTel Leverages Windows Mobile to Assist the Blind

Posted by Jason Dunn in “Windows Phone Software” @ 08:30 AM

“We’ve seen software and applications designed to assist visually impaired individuals in the past, but nothing’s been quite what we’re shown in this video. The LookTel software actually allows phones to recognize and audibly identify objects almost instantly.”

Technology is at its best when it enables us to do new things, and this is a great example of Windows Mobile enabling the blind to leverage technology to improve their daily lives. LookTel allows blind users to point a Windows Mobile device equipped with a camera at an object, and the optical character recognition built into the software will read the label on the container and speak it aloud. Custom labels can be made for containers without labels, and the software can be trained to recognize those labels. It’s a really neat system that demonstrates the power of technology to fill a need.


What is LookTel?

Image of LookTel recognizing moneyLookTel combines the power of a Smartphone with advanced “artificial vision” software to create a helpful electronic assistant for anyone who is visually impaired or blind. You can use LookTel to automatically scan and recognize objects such as money, packaged goods, CDs, DVDs, and medication bottles, as well as landmarks. Point the device video camera at what you wish to “see” and it will pronounce the name very quickly in clear and easy to understand speech. LookTel can be taught to recognize all the objects and landmarks you wish to identify. With a small amount of help from a sighted assistant one can easily teach LookTel to be your helpful assistant for many tasks where vision makes a difference in your independence. LookTel also incorporates a text reader allowing users to get access to print media.

Price to be determined.


How Diabetes can Affect your Eyes

April 2, 2010

From EyeSmart News, by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin in amounts sufficient to control blood-sugar levels. There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational, which may develop when a woman is pregnant:

  • Type 1: Usually diagnosed in children and young adults and previously known as juvenile diabetes. In this form, the body does not produce insulin.
  • Type 2: The most common form of diabetes. Either the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells ignore the insulin.
  • Gestational: Blood-sugar levels (glucose) become elevated during pregnancy in women who have never had diabetes before. Gestational diabetes starts when the mother’s body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs during pregnancy.

People with any type of diabetes can develop hyperglycemia, which is an excess of blood sugar, or serum glucose. Although glucose is a vital source of energy for the body’s cells, a chronic elevation of serum glucose causes damage throughout the body, including the small blood vessels in the eyes. As a result, if you have diabetes, you run the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, in which damage occurs to the delicate blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. You are also at increased risk for developing cataracts (clouding of the normally clear lens in the eye), or glaucoma (a disease that results in damage to the optic nerve).

More than 24 million Americans have diabetes and the number is growing, but only half of them get the recommended annual dilated eye exam. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults, but 90 percent of vision loss can be prevented. An annual dilated eye exam can help prevent vision loss in people with diabetes.