Vitamin E and RP

August 31, 2011

Vitamin E: Daily supplementation with oral vitamin E may be beneficial for respiratory infection prevention. Additional research is warranted.

Caution is advised when taking vitamin E supplements, as adverse effects and drug interactions are possible. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to vitamin E. Avoid with retinitis pigmentosa (loss of peripheral vision). Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding, unless otherwise directed by a doctor. Use cautiously with bleeding disorders or if taking blood thinners.,65165.asp



Increased Risk for Stroke or Heart Attack Indicated by Eye Disease

August 31, 2011

The eyes, they say, are the windows to the soul. But did you know that the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can also indicate increased risk of heart attack or stroke? During September’s Save Your Sight Month, Eye Care America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is raising awareness about AMD and its potential “window to health” through your eyes.

This same blood vessel damage can also indicate risk for heart attack or stroke—as much as 8 to 10 times greater than for someone without this damage. An Australian study noted that among those whose health was followed for a number of years, subjects with AMD had more than double the incidence of heart attack or stroke. So an eye exam eye could help save not only your sight, but also your life, by letting you know of increased risk for other serious health problems.


iPhone App Allows Patients to Self-Monitor Progress of Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy

August 20, 2011

Many patients do not have eye tests in a timely fashion to help track degeneration in their eyesight due to age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.  In addition, the 1940′s eye test still used in the doctor’s office often does not detect the incremental changes in vision that can occur with these conditions.

A clever solution has been developed in the form of iphone app myVisionTrack, which is twice as sensitive as the old eye chart, gives results in less than 90 seconds, and can be done at any time on the iPhone.

The test uses a “shape discrimination” exercise, where three circles are shown on the screen.  Patients cover one eye and touch the circle they perceive to be oddly shaped.  This brings up 3 more circles with more subtle differences, and so on.  The exercise is then repeated with the other eye. The app stores the results each time, and if there is a significant change in vision over time, the patient gets a message to see the doctor.


Univ of Iowa Research Team Finds New Genetic Cause of Retinitis Pigmentosa

August 20, 2011

Combining the expertise of several different labs, University of Iowa researchers have found a new genetic cause of the blinding eye disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and, in the process, discovered an entirely new version of the message that codes for the affected protein.

The study, which was published online August 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Early Edition, suggests that the mutation may be a significant cause of RP in people of Jewish descent. The findings also lay the groundwork for developing prevention and treatment for this form of RP using a combination of genetic testing, gene therapy and cell replacement approaches.

Using the latest DNA sequencing techniques to analyze the protein-coding regions of a single RP patient’s genome, the researchers found a mutation in a gene called MAK (male germ cell associated kinase). This gene had not previously been associated with eye disease in humans. However, examining tissue from donated eyes showed that MAK protein was located in the parts of the retina that are affected by the disease.

The researchers then generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from the patient’s own skin cells and coaxed these immature cells to develop into retinal tissue. Analyzing this tissue showed that the gene mutation caused the loss of the MAK protein in the retina.

“These new technologies have greatly enhanced our ability to find and validate disease-causing mutations, which is critical to our ability to progress to the next step of actually treating diseases like RP,” said Budd Tucker, PhD, UI assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual science and lead study author.

Based on the new work, the UI team hopes to explore gene therapy and cell replacement strategies as potential therapies for this form of RP.


Researchers Find New Genetic Cause for Retinitis Pigmentosa

August 20, 2011

A new genetic cause for retinitis pigmentosa has been found that might explain a significant number of these blindness cases in people of Jewish descent, according to a news release by the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

The findings, reported by University of Iowa researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, propose prevention and treatment using a combination of genetic testing, gene therapy and cell replacement.

Researchers found a mutation in a gene called male germ cell associated kinase that had not previously been associated with eye disease in humans.

Read the University of Iowa release on a genetic cause for retinitis pigmentosa.


Lycopene Protects Against Macular Degeneration

August 20, 2011

Tomatoes are good for your eyes. In fact, one study showed that people with low levels of lycopene were twice as likely to develop age-related macular degeneration. Zeaxanthin, another compound in tomatoes, also helps to ward off the disease.



Silence is golden during eye injections

August 20, 2011

If you’re getting a drug injection for macular degeneration or another eye condition, a new study suggests you might want to make sure your doctor doesn’t talk while doing the procedure.

Researchers found that in just a few minutes of talking over an imaginary patient, unmasked volunteers spewed out bacteria which could potentially land on eyes or injection needles and cause infection.

One in every few thousand injections for vision loss results in a serious eye infection called endophthalmitis, which at its worst can cause patients to go blind completely. But because patients typically need frequent injections, as many as 1 in 200 eventually get the infection.

Some of those infections are caused by a type of bacterium, Streptococcus, that’s common in the mouth and also leads to bad breath and cavities.

The new finding “doesn’t prove anything conclusively,” said study author Dr. Colin McCannel, from the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Still, he said, “My advice to patients would be, until the injection is complete … minimize conversation or talking with the physician.”

Both Wykoff and McCannel didn’t go so far as to say that doctors should always wear face masks during the eye injections — but they did say that if possible, both doctors and patients should try to keep talking to a minimum.

At the very least, “physicians should minimize conversation,” McCannel told Reuters Health. “I’ve started using a face mask, because that way I can talk to the patient and have less concern of contamination.”

SOURCE: Archives of Ophthalmology, online August 8, 2011.