Shanghai Investigates Infection after using Avastin

September 11, 2010

Shanghai’s food and drug administration is cooperating with health authorities to investigate the use of Avastin at local hospitals after 61 patients suffered adverse reactions to Avastin injections for macular degeneration and other eye disorders.

Though it is not officially approved for the treatment of macular degeneration, hospitals in many countries have used it on patients and consider it an effective treatment which is cheaper than officially approved medicine, according to insiders.

Li Weiping, deputy director of the Shanghai Health Bureau, said yesterday that the bureau is still investigating the cause of the eye infection which sickened dozens of patients at the Shanghai No. 1 People’s Hospital.

By yesterday morning, 61 patients were in hospital after adverse reactions from receiving Avastin injections.

A total of 116 patients received Avastin injections on Monday and Wednesday at the hospital.

All the 61 patients with adverse reactions like red eyes and poor vision were among the 116 patients receiving Avastin by two batches, Li said.


LEDs Illuminate Eye for Ocular Disease Screening

September 7, 2010

A new imaging system using six different wavelengths to illuminate the interior of the eyeball (ocular fundus) may pave the way for doctors to easily screen patients for common diseases of the eye, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The system is described in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, which is published by the American Institute of Physics.

Currently, when optometrists and ophthalmogists visualize the ocular fundus, they typically take snapshot images of the eye in two or three wavelengths (red, green and blue), which can reveal some visually-apparent abnormalities. But an added dimension made possible with the imaging system described by Nicholas L. Everdell of University College London allows doctors to distinguish between the different light absorbing characteristics of biological molecules called chromophores.

Everdell and Styles describe a device combining a high-sensitivity CCD camera with wavelength-specific illumination from LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that provides multispectral images of the ocular fundus. The multispectral images, explains Styles, are affected differently by the pigments present in the eye, and through a sophisticated algorithm they can be used to generate a pixel-by-pixel “parametric map” of the distribution of substances in the eye. Such maps may allow primary care clinicians to screen for and identify pathologies at a much earlier stage of development than other imaging modalities. An advantage the new system offers over other multispectral retinal imaging systems is its speed. It can acquire a sequence of multispectral images at a fast enough rate (0. 5 seconds) to reduce image shifts caused by natural eye movements. In contrast with snapshot systems, the system’s images retain full spatial resolution. Also, the system uses only the specific wavebands that are required for the subsequent analysis, minimizing the total light exposure of the subject, ensuring patient safety and improving image quality.

Portable Handheld Electronic Video Magnifiers Comparison – Updated

September 6, 2010

This item is from Gail Johnson.

This informative table shows a detailed comparison of  portable Electronic Magnifiers.

How to Diagnose Macular Degeneration

September 6, 2010

From Randall Wong, MD

Unlike the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, a patient with macular degeneration must have symptoms of the disease for the diagnosis to be made.  In most cases, the retina should have characteristic “damage,” and, most importantly, the patient must be having symptoms, i.e. decreased vision and/or distortion.

Patients afflicted with macular degeneration are almost always greater than 55 years old, show signs of the disease, often of northern European ancestry and have decreased vision and/or distortion.

The disease is progressive and, in most cases, affects both eyes.

Some of the hallmarks of macular degeneration include the presence or absence of pigmentary changes, fluid, blood and drusen.

Drusen are creamy white spots within the layers of the retina.  There are two types, hard and soft, but both can be associated with macular degeneration.  They are not diagnostic of the disease, but many non-retina physicians know this. Drusen may be present in the retina without other evidence of degeneration.  Drusen may be normal.

If there are signs of the disease, then a fluorescein angiogram should be performed.  This test involves injection of a dye into your arm.  The dye travels to the retina and pictures are taken.  A fluorescein angiogram is a great test for showing just how healthy, or unhealthy, the retina can be.

A fluorescein angiogram can diagnose macular degeneration.

What Does This Mean? In contrast to diabetes, where patients must be examined routinely due to the potential of a lack of symptoms, macular degeneration patients don’t benefit from routine examination if they have no symptoms.  (I am not saying don’t get an eye exam as many people are unaware of having vision loss!)

By definition, macular degeneration damages the macula.  Therefore, if present, there should be changes in the vision.

In cases of suspected macular degeneration, diagnostic tests are available.  At times, patients can look like they have ARMD, yet have normal vision.  As this is a progressive disease, those that are suspected of developing the disease should be followed regularly in years to come.

A normal fluorescein angiogram can also determine if drusen are normal, or associated with the disease.

As always, see your eye doctor if you develop any persistent decreased vision or distortion (symptoms continuously present for more than one day).

Treatment for Dry AMD

September 6, 2010

Dr. Alexander Eaton today presented the results of a two-year clinical study of the drug Fenretinide for the treatment of geographic atrophy, an advanced form of dry macular degeneration at the American Society of Retina Specialists conference in Vancouver. The meeting was attended by retina physicians from around the world.

The two-year research was done at 30 centers throughout the United States and included 246 study patients. The results provide hope for patients who are diagnosed with dry macular degeneration.

n the study, the patients who received the higher dose of the medication showed a 50 percent reduction in the growth of lesions.

In addition, the drug was found to inhibit the development of exudative macular degeneration from 18.3 percent in the controls, to around 9 percent in the treatment group. This is approximately a 50 percent reduction, and occurred in both the lower and higher doses of the medication used in the study.

Federal stem cell ruling blocks Yale scientists

September 6, 2010

For two decades, Lawrence Rizzolo, the director of medical studies at the Yale School of Medicine, has been working toward a project that aims to transplant young, healthy retinal cells to replace diseased tissues in the eyes of patients who are going blind.

But now Rizzolo fears he may have to delay, or even stop, his research because of last week’s ruling by a federal judge that prevents federal funding for studies involving embryonic stem cells, the building blocks for human organs and tissues that Rizzolo needs for his project.

Rizzolo had applied for a grant from the National Institutes of Health to replace his funding from the nonprofit International Retinal Research Foundation, which ends in December. Rizzolo also has a three-year state grant from Rocky Hill, Conn.-based state holding company Connecticut Innovations, but he says he cannot continue his research without the federal funding.

Rizzolo’s laboratory is one of about a dozen facilities on campus that use stem cells. Haifan Lin, director of the Yale Stem Cell Center, said he did not yet know how the moratorium will affect Yale researchers.

“We’re all waiting for clarification on the implications of the judge’s ruling,” University President Richard Levin said.

But frozen funding could lead scientists to lose their jobs. Rizzolo said that although a fourth researcher will join his laboratory in October, he may soon have to fire his workers because the grants and not the University pay for his researchers’ salaries.

Although the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a motion seeking to delay the federal judge’s ban on funding, the relief would only be temporary, NIH spokesman Don Ralbovsky said. The Justice Department declined to comment Thursday.

New Subretinal Stem Cell Treatment for Eye Disease

September 6, 2010

Ridgefield, CT (PRWEB) September 1, 2010
A new stem cell therapy is now available to eye patients using subretinal placement of adult stem cells. Patients with more severe eye problems may now have the opportunity to improve their sight and gain useful vision.

Dr Steven Levy is pleased to announce that The XCell-Center in Germany has begun a new treatment for eye patients using subretinal placement of adult stem cells for ophthalmic disease. Initial patients included an individual with Stargardts Disease, a type of hereditary retinopathy, and a patient with Age Related Macular Degeneration or AMD.