AMD Increases Risk of Brain Hemorage

September 24, 2016

Age-related macular degeneration  (AMD) patients are at an increased risk for brain hemorrhage. Study researcher Renske G. Wieberdink, M.D., said, “Other studies have found there are more strokes in older individuals with late AMD, but ours is the first to look at the specific types of strokes. We found the association is with brain hemorrhage, but not brain infarction.”

The study only observed a small amount of brain hemorrhages, so larger studies are needed in order to make any conclusions on the association between the two.

Dr. Wieberdink added, “These findings should be considered preliminary. Patients and physicians must be very careful not to over-interpret them. We don’t know why there are more brain hemorrhages in these patients or what the relationship with AMD might be. This does not mean that all patients with late-stage AMD will develop brain hemorrhage.”

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Copyright Precaution

September 20, 2016

A note from Zoe Chen of Zoomax

Buck Institute finds potential macular degeneration treatment

September 19, 2016

Researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging have found a potential treatment for macular degeneration using a broccoli-related compound.

By injecting it in mice, they found evidence of a possible treatment for the eye disease, which is the leading cause of vision loss affecting more than 10 million Americans.

“We scientists must learn from nature. Nature has come up with these wonderful strategies to detoxify our bodies,” said Arvind Ramanathan, an assistant professor at the Novato-based Buck Institute and lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports in July.

The road to creating an FDA-approved drug is long. Ramanathan estimated that if the Buck Institute can get a grant from the National Institutes of Health to work on more aspects of the compound, “I would hope in the next five years we would move into a clinical phase,” meaning testing of the potential drug.

It would still be years after that before the drug could come to market, but the work of Ramanathan and his colleagues gives hope to the millions of Americans who are affected by macular degeneration or at risk for the disease.

With this in mind, Ramanathan and his team set out to find a compound “that acts like indole, but only better.” After running a computer search of millions of compounds, “we found a compound like this, but it was 10 times more potent in detoxification.”

The compound is known in short form as 2AI.

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Google developing Macular Degeneration Diagnosis Program

September 19, 2016

In 1996, IBM’s Deep Blue program beat Garry Kasparov at chess. In 2016, Google’s Deep Mind beat the world champion Go player.

Google plans to use more than one million anonymized eye scans to teach computers how to diagnose ocular disease.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has signed a deal with a British eye hospital to use artificial intelligence to learn from the medical records of 1.6 million patients in London hospitals.

The goal is to teach a computer program to recognize the signs of two common types of eye disease, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.

That’s something humans are surprisingly imperfect at. Physicians diagnose these ailments by analyzing medical charts and interviewing patients, yet still get it wrong 10 to 20% of the time.

Artificial intelligence could enable a machine to scan millions of records and documents, learn from them and then make more accurate diagnoses and save time while doing so.

The partnership, announced Monday, is between DeepMind, an artificial intelligence company owned by Google, and Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

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Career Choices of 5 People with Vision Loss

September 19, 2016

The following article is by Zoe Chen who writes a low vision blog titled Zoomax in China:

Career Choices of 5 People with Vision Loss

Diagnosis of vision loss can be an agony for most people though eye ailments are not rare: even some celebrities, like Bono who announced his glaucoma the reason of his long time sunglasses wearing, have serious eye conditions despite the better treatment they could receive based on their wealth. Mass media always focus on famous stars with vision loss as unyielding role models; however, for people who barely expect rich ophthalmological resources in visual impairment, life situations and career development of ordinary ones seem more related to the daily life.

Today 5 people coping with chronic eye disease are introduced here: every one of them could be your friend, coworker, fellow, everything but someone armed with good fortune or fame. Let’s read their stories and see how “nobody” leads a positive life and makes a career choice with vision loss in various positions.


Cheryl Wilcox, Media Consultant

Cheryl Wilcox was diagnosed legally blind in 1985 after years of Retinopathy of Prematurity since she was born. Since 2011, she started to use cane as her advanced vision loss exacerbated. The blindness didn’t slow her down in career: She has been working in Gannett media and newspapers for more than 25 years, and invited to share her practical experience in our “living with low vision” column. Besides a stable job, she is now with her great friends and a cat with “good personality”.


Ike Presley, Project Manager

Ike Presley was brought up in a family with congenital cataracts history. He is now a national project manager of American Foundation for the Blind in charge of projects in literacy for vision loss people after his career in Georgia Department of Education as an assistive technology specialist in 1993. The book Assistive Technology for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: A Guide to Assessment marked “A “must-have” reference and resource for anyone charged with educating visually impaired students”, was written by Ike Presley and Frances Mary D’Andrea and published in 2009.

Mohan Gurung trying Zoomax electronic magnifier Snow 7 HD

Mohan Gurung, School Manager

Mohan Gurung is a principal of a small boarding school supported by an Austrian charity “Schule macht Schule” in Jharkot, Nepal. Compared with the people who grow up with poor eye condition, his loss of normal eyesight was distinct: an accident in March 2012 led to retinal detachment. He carried on his organizational work coping with agencies, authorities and secondary schools for the children after surgery and treatment restored a little of his sight and peripheral vision. Mohan now uses an electronic magnifier to assist his daily work.


Yoshinori Arai, Teacher

Yoshinori Arai is a middle school teacher who utterly lost his vision at the age of 34. He became a Japanese teacher after graduation from university and married his wife Mayumi who brought the family a daughter when he was 28, same year he was diagnosed retinal detachment. He lost the vision of right eye at 32 and left eye at 34. “I considered suicide in desperation at that time,” he said, but he “felt some faint hope that someday I’d be able to go back to work.” In 2008, Arai became the first completely blind teacher at any of the prefecture’s regular public primary and middle schools, and 6 years later, at his 52, he came back as a class teacher for the first time in 23 years.


Saqib Shaikh, Software Engineer

Saqib is a software engineer who has devoted himself into Microsoft for 10 years. The complaint of excessive stare at screen most programmers are confronting doesn’t bother him: he has been blind since 7 year-old. In his answer of question” How can you program if you’re blind?” in 2009, Saqib indicated his 13 years’ experience in “programming on Windows, Mac, Linux and DOS, in languages from C/C++, Python, Java, C# and various smaller languages along the way.” with practical suggestions of software choice, settings and assistive technology. In 2016, He made an app calledSeeing AI as a research project, featuring intelligence APIs from Microsoft Cognitive Services to “translate” real-world events into audio messages.


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Low Vision Apps

September 4, 2016

The following is by Lauren Tappan

As a low vision user of digital devices. I am still enjoying the apple ipad. I now have 4 different apps to download books and also the KNFB Reader app, which reads text to me. I have found the ipad helpful when traveling. I have an app that helps me keep track of arrival and departure of my flights, and it also gives me updated information at my travel destination. I have found it easy to keep track of emails using the zoom feature, and it is easy for me to develop an address book of email contacts. I have found it very easy to update software and the maintance of the ipad is relatively easy.
    Duke Olli (Retirement in Learning) has an ipad class for new beginners this upcoming semester. I will be demonstrating the ipad for low vision users at this class on Monday September 26th at 10 am at the Judea reform Synagogue in Durham.”

Existing drugs could prevent macular degeneration

September 3, 2016

Bright light can cause damage to retinal tissue and cause vision loss or blindness. Scientists from Case Western Reserve University have found that a combination of FDA-approved drugs could protect against retinal damage and ward off some vision-impairing conditions, including macular degeneration.

The researchers, led by Krzysztof Palczewski, selected drugs known to act on G protein-coupled receptors–which ferry signals in and out of cells–that activate specific proteins linked to retinopathy, or retinal disease that causes vision loss. They then pre-treated mice with 16 different drugs in a bid to shield them from retinal damage. It worked: The pre-treated mice escaped photoreceptor damage caused by bright light.

With a shortlist of four drugs, the team tested low-dose combinations to find the most effective regimen to ward off bright light-caused photoreceptor damage. While metoprolol, used to treat several cardiovascular conditions, worked best individually, the researchers ultimately found that a combo of metoprolol, bromocriptine and doxazosin or tamsulosin all at “sub-therapeutic” doses, did better than any drug alone. Bromocriptine treats a range of conditions brought on by pituitary problems, as well as Type 2 diabetes, while the latter two drugs are both urinary retention meds used in the treatment of prostate cancer.

“This project is ready for clinical tests assessing effectiveness in age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt disease,” Palczewski said in the statement. And the systems pharmacology method–which seeks to understand how drugs work on different systems of the body–could be applied to conditions beyond retinopathy: “All chronic illnesses and aging diseases should be tested using similar approaches to those developed in our study,” Palczewski said.