Potential Treatment for RP and AMD

October 4, 2016

New research published in Cell Reports identifies a potential treatment target for blinding diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and advanced dry age-related macular degeneration. In the study, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine explored how the retina’s photoreceptors — the rods and cones responsible for detecting light, color, contrast, and sharpness — are damaged over the course of these diseases.

Lin, Apte and colleagues at Washington Univ. found that defects in the same NAD pathway appear to be involved in several different diseases of the retina. When they treated damaged photoreceptor cells in mice with a second molecule called NMN — a precursor molecule that boosts levels of NAD — the cells’ degeneration ceased and vision was restored.

“This is exciting because we may have found a reason why these highly metabolically active cells are susceptible to damage and death when the NAD pathway does not function optimally,” said Apte, also a professor of developmental biology and neuroscience and of medicine.

The pathway offers a promising target for therapies for multiple retinal diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa, a cause of blindness that impairs vision over many years and for which there is currently no cure.

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Retinitis Pigmentosa Treatment in Cuba

August 3, 2016

The Cubans claim they are treating RP successfully. A Canadian ophthalmology journal casts doubts.

One controversial treatment, currently available in Cuba, consists of a combination of ozone therapy (removing a small amount of blood from the eye, adding ozone, and replacing it a short while later), electrical stimulation, dietary supplements and so-called “oligoelements”, and eye surgery under a local anesthetic. The rationale behind these procedures is to improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the affected parts of the eye.

As yet, this procedure has not been subject to critical review and, as such, remains outside the medical mainstream. The Cuban clinic where it has been performed has repeatedly refused to show the procedure to anyone outside of the clinic. As such, critical review is very difficult. There have been reports of physical damage to some patients including detached retinas, crossed eyes, and sensitivity to light.

Because of this, the RP Research Foundation in Canada and the RP Foundation Fighting Blindness in the U.S. have called the procedure into question.

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Bionic eye restores man’s vision

July 3, 2016

This article is from http://www.wkyc.com/

Steve McMillin learned at age 32 he had Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic disease that would stop his retinas from functioning. By 49, he was completely blind.

He kept up to date on new research emerging and heard about the bionic retina, a retinal prosthesis device that sends electrical impulses to the remaining retinal cells and restores limited vision patterns.

“They take the lens off the top of your eye, remove the vitrious fluid and install a six-by-ten grid of electrodes in your eye,” said McMillin.

Last June, Steve became the twentieth patient in the US to receive the device when he had his surgery at Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute

He can see vague, black and white images.

“So you can tell, well, there’s the road, there’s a driveway, there’s a mailbox, there’s a shrub. Am I veering off track? It’s another tool in the toolbox and, boy, it’s a big tool,” McMillin says.

When asked what the most important thing he saw after ten years of blindness was, he replied, “To go out in the moonlight and see your wife’s face.”

Read more at on.wkyc.com/29e6JTB.



April 7, 2016

The NC State Library for the Legally Blind offers downloadable talking books, magazines and braille through two services.

1. BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) is a national program through which users can borrow braille and audio books. You must apply for this service. Format: digital talking books and braille

2. NOBLE (North Carolina BARD Local) is a local service through which users can download braille and audio books, magazines, and podcasts. No application is necessary. Format: digital talking book, podcasts, digital braille

Still with low-vision, I am now an I-Pad Pro user and have recently downloaded the BARD ap to my I-Pad Pro.  The BARD ap come from the NC Library for the Blind and it is their digital book collection.  A low-vision user will definitely need a sighted person to help them set this up.  Unfortunately,  the steps to set up this ap do not seem user friendly and require many steps.  Even with a sighted helper you might still need to contact the NC Libraries BARD tech support people to help with the set-up but once this has happened/ it is definitely worth the effort.
    I was able to download two books that I have been wanting to read and the download happened only in a few minutes.  Once the books are downloaded there is a quick and easy navigational system that is easy to learn.
    I have been trying to locate and read this  book for many years.  The book has dense and difficult material so it is hard/ if not impossible to find a personal reader to read this book to me.  I have been trying to read this book on my Clear Reader Plus but I can usually only read a few pages at a time.  So now that this book has been downloaded  to my BARD ap I can read this book quickly and easily.
    It is a new world and I am excited to be able to finally have access to the books I want
to read.
Lauren Tappen

Facebook Helps the Blind See Photos

April 5, 2016

Facebook is using AI to help blind people ‘see’ the photos in their newsfeed
Facebook recently announced its automatic alternative text, which describes the content of a photo as a user moves past it, giving blind users more context for the image.

iphone facebook

iPhone speaks: “Image may contain pizza, food”

On Monday, April 4, Facebook introduced automatic alternative text, a feature that uses object recognition technology to form a description of a given photo as the user passes over it. While using the Facebook app on an iOS device, the feature would tell the user that the image “may contain three people, smiling, outdoors,” according to the official Facebook press release.

Many blind smartphone users rely on screen reader software to respond to texts, compose emails, and surf Facebook. As the name would imply, the tool reads the text on a given screen aloud to the user. However, previous iterations could only tell the user that a photo was present, it could not describe the photo or give any context.

So, for example, if a user was scrolling through his or her Facebook feed, the screen reader would read out the person’s name who posted the photo and then simply say “Photo.” Now, with automatic alternative text, Facebook is hoping it can better describe the content of photos for users who may be blind or visually impaired.

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A Possible Cure For Blindness: The Ocata Stem Cells

October 4, 2015
  • Ocata has developed methods to culture and deliver retinal progenitor cells.
  • Early, unpublished animal data suggest retinal progenitors can reverse blindness caused by degenerative diseases.
  • If shown effective, the retinal cells have a huge number of potential applications.
  • Ocata has received funding for retinal progenitor development in the orphan disease retinitis pigmentosa.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa has no approved, effective therapy, and represents a potential market over $1 billion per year.

Ocata Therapeutics  has stated in no uncertain terms that its embryonic stem cell -derived retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) is its major program, and it has the potential to address an array of macular disorders, including age-related macular degeneration, Stargardt’s disease, macular edema, and myopic macular degeneration.

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OkuStim therapy found effective at slowing the progression of Retinitis Pigmetosa

September 19, 2015

NICE, France, Sept. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Okuvision GmbH, the leading developer of transcorneal electrical stimulation (TES) therapy for early and intermediate stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP) patients, announced today that post-market clinical data of the Company’s CE marked OkuStim® treatment will be presented at the European Society of Retina Specialists (EURETINA) Congress 2015. Key findings from the TESOLA and EST II studies will be presented by Dr.Lubka Naycheva, specialist and head of the outpatient clinic at the University Eye Hospital Frankfurt, Germany at the retina industry’s leading conference, now in its 15th year, taking place 17-20 September in Nice, France.

Dr. Naycheva’s  presentation titled “Transcorneal Electrical Stimulation Treatment for Patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa – Summary of Results from the TESOLA Study – a Multicentric Observational Study” highlights the results of 105 patients who were treated with OkuStim for 30 minutes weekly over a period of six months. The majority of patients reported satisfaction with the therapy. Further information on the study’s findings will be presented as a free paper scheduled for Thursday, 17 September at 02:40 PM, Room Calliope, Acropolis as well as a poster presentation number 7679 17 – 20 September 2015 in Acropolis, Nice.

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