Indian Scientists Grow Embryonic Eyes

June 25, 2017

This article by Lauren Tappan

A team of Indian scientists led by Dr. Indumathi Mariappan was able to grow complex eye-like organs in the lab by allowing the cells to organise themselves in three dimensions. The miniature eye closely resembles the developing eyes of an early-stage embryo. The eye-like structure consists of miniature forms of retina, cornea and eyelid. The results were published in the journalDevelopment.

“It took about four–six weeks for the eye-like structure to form from iPS cells. We then removed the cornea-like structure for further study,” says Dr. Mariappan from the Centre for Ocular Regeneration at the LV Prasad Eye Institute and the corresponding author of the paper.

The cornea has three layers — epithelium (outer layer), stroma (middle layer) and endothelium (inner layer). “All the three layers of the cornea were observed, indicating that the mini-cornea had developed correctly,” she says. “The cornea initially forms as a simple bubble-like structure which is very delicate to handle. It later matures to form a thick cornea-like structure over a period of 10-15 weeks.”

The corneal epithelial sheets that would be used for treating the damaged eyes were then grown in the lab using small pieces of the mini-cornea containing the epithelium and a portion of the stroma. The stem cells present in the tissue pieces proliferated and gave rise to a uniform sheet of epithelium of about 2.5 cm by 2.5 cm size.

Animal trials

The team is currently focusing on testing the usefulness of the corneal cells grown from iPS cells in restoring vision in animal models (rats). “We will soon be starting the animal experiments,” she says. Trials on human subjects will be considered if the animal experiments turn out to be safe and effective in restoring vision.

In treatment

In parallel, the researchers are also working on producing mini-retinal tissue and actively exploring iPS cell-derived retinal tissues for treating several retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinitis pigmentosa and certain forms of congenital blindness seen in children and young adults.

Already, retinal cells grown using human embryonic stem cells and iPS cells are being tested in clincal trials in a few countries to treat retinal diseases.

For more info:

Macular Degeneration Affects More Than Just Vision

June 24, 2017

The diagnosis of low vision due to age, such as macular degeneration, often comes with more consequences than just the inability to see. A new study by the National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that patients with low vision experience twice the depression that the blind experience and five times more depression compared with normal populations. The study brought together mental health and eye care professionals to study the causes of depression in those diagnosed with low-vision due to age.

Another 2013 national study of adults aged 20 and older published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology (JAMA) concluded that, “self-reported visual function loss…is significantly associated with depression.” Anecdotal evidence from low vision optometrists over the years noticed that about 1 in 10 low vision patients attending the clinic had some form of a mental health problem. Moreover, all low vision patients who attended the low vision clinic showed a general reduction in their quality of life.

Losing basic visual functions impacts individual’s ability to perform even the simplest motor functions, be they daily tasks like cooking, getting ready for work, or even just watching TV. So, while a diagnosis of permanent vision loss can often affect far more than just the ability to see; from how to dress, eat and work to how to maintain independence- it does not have to dictate your life.

By properly addressing these issues, low vision optometrists can help patients lead the fullest possible lives. Scheduling an appointment with them to get fitted for low vision glasses is the first step to helping patients become individuals again; avoiding needless concern, fear, despair and depression.

Knowing that there is hope after vision loss, and that hope lies in making the choice to get fitted for low vision glasses. Low vision optometrists are helping people get back to the activities they enjoy, rather than focusing on the loss of the activities due to macular degeneration and low vision.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of depression due to low vision, please seek help. To reach a qualified low vision optometrist with extensive training and experience in dealing with the visual issues of macular degeneration, you may locate a member of The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists near you by contacting their website: or calling 1-888-778-2030.


Experimental Drug Able To Slow Macular Degeneration

June 24, 2017

An experimental treatment may significantly slow the progression of the blindness-causing disorder macular degeneration, in what would mark the first therapy of its kind, research showed Wednesday.

There are currently no available treatments to stymie macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people aged 60 and older.

More than 5 million patients globally are affected by a form of the condition known as geographic atrophy, which causes lesions on the retina.

But the authors of a new study, published Wednesday in the American journal Science Translational Medicine, say that a clinical trial of the therapy lampalizumab reduced lesion expansion by 20 percent, thereby thwarting the destruction of light-sensing cells.

The 18-month phase two clinical trial tested the safety and efficacy of the antibody on 129 patients.

The treatment produced no serious side effects, according to the study.

Researchers found that the treatment reduced by 44 percent the condition’s progression in a subgroup of patients carrying a certain genetic marker, known as CFI+.

But in some patients with the genetic trait CFI-, the therapy had no effect.

The results of two phase three clinical trials including 936 patients will be available in 2019.

Age-related macular degeneration negatively impacts the central part of the retina — the macula — which is vital for reading, writing and recognizing faces.

The condition results from a gradual aging of photoreceptor neurons that capture light, which is transformed into signals and sent to the brain to produce images.

For more info:


The Advantages of orCam

June 23, 2017

OrCam’s mission is to harness the power of artificial vision by incorporating pioneering technology into a wearable platform which improves the lives of individuals who are blind, visually impaired, have a reading disability or people with other conditions. The breakthrough OrCam MyEye device provides a visual aid through a discreet, wearable platform and easy-to-use interface.

OrCam was jointly founded by CTO Professor Amnon Shashua and CEO Ziv Aviram, who are also the co-founders of accident avoidance system Mobileye. The OrCam MyEye device was launched in the U.S. in 2015.

An easy, unobtrusive fit on any eyeglasses frame, OrCam’s breakthrough conversion of visual information into the spoken word enables you to instantly and discreetly read text, recognize faces, as well as identify product and money notes.

Activated by a simple, intuitive gesture-pointing your finger or pressing a simple button- OrCam MyEye makes newspapers, books, computer and smartphone screen, restaurant menus, labels on supermarket products and street signs accessible- in real time.

Following a quick one-time entry process, previously stored faces or people who are important to you- family members, friends, co-workers- are seamlessly recognized and announced by your own voice tag once they come into the OrCam MyEye smart camera’s view. Up to 100 faces of individuals can be stored.

OrCam MyEye stores up to 150 of your favorite products- such as supermarket items, drugstore necessities and credit cards- and instantly communicates them through your own voice tag, enabling an independent shopping experience.

“For me, OrCam just feels like it’s an immediate solution to all the problems I face as a blind person. It was amazing how quickly I was able to use the device. The best thing about OrCam is when my son, who is four, runs up to me, it gives me a little warning that he is coming, so that I know that there is a hug coming. It’s just a great experience. “

Lyft App for the i-Pad

June 15, 2017

The following is by Lauren Tappan:

As a low vision user of AT products, I’m always interested in transportation solutions. With the encouragement of my low-vision occupational therapist, I was able to put the Lyft app on my iPad. My lowvision occupational therapist then encouraged me to give it a try and with a great deal of anxiety, I managed to use the Lyft app to locate a driver. After going through their app process, I was able to get a Lyft driver at our house within five minutes and, the return journey was just as easy. If you are a low vision AT user, you might consider checking out the Lyft driving services. I’ve found them very prompt, helpful and I received an automatic receipt right after the journey.


For more info:

OrCam Visual Aid

June 7, 2017

The OrCam MyEye is a portable, artificial vision device that allows the visually impaired to understand text and identify objects. The device was developed by Israeli-based company OrCam Technologies Limited, and was released as a prototype in September 2013.

The OrCam MyEye consists of two main components: the head unit and the base unit. The head unit consists of a camera and a microphone, and is mounted on the frames of a pair of eyeglasses. The box-like base unit contains the algorithms and processing components that give the device its functionality, and can be clipped to a belt or left to rest in a pocket. The head unit and base unit are adjoined by a connecting cable.

The OrCam MyEye recognizes text and products, and speaks to the person wearing the device via a bone-conduction earpiece.[5] With the point of the person’s finger, the device instantly responds and will infer whether it needs to read, find an item, or recognize a product depending on the environment. It may do so without searching for audio books, learning new software, or using other tools.


Reading text, menus, street signs

Facial Recognition

Product Searches in supermarkets for over  100 products

Identifies currency value

For more info, including cost & videos:

Eye Drops for Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration

June 6, 2017

From Lauren Tappan

Lorati Company Limited, a Taiwan-based biotechnology and pharmaceutical company, today announced that it has successfully developed nano-grade eye drops, which can effectively treat and reverse cataract, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.

Lorati CEO, David Lo, said nano-grade eye drops, based on montmorillonite, also known as God’s clay, is believed to be the last-ditch treatment for cataract, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Huge improvement can be seen within one month of treatment by nano-grade eye drops. After being treated for a couple of months, Mr. Lo claims patients with these chronic eye diseases have gradually restored their vision.

Like all claims about eye cures, view this with caution.

For more info: