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In the News/New Products

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000234
In the News/New Products
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Academy Fellows Feature in 10 Most Viewed Publications in IOVS in 2013

In mid-January, we learned that three of the 10 most read papers in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS) in 2013 were loaded with optometrists and Academy Fellow authors. Details for those three papers are as follows:

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• Lyndon Jones, Noel A. Brennan, Jos Gonzalez-Meijome, John Lally, Carole Maldonado-Codina, Tannin A. Schmidt, Lakshman Subbaraman, Graeme Young, Jason J. Nichols. The TFOS International Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort: Report of the Contact Lens Materials, Design, and Care Subcommittee. October 18, 2013; 54:37–70.

• Jason J. Nichols, Mark D. P. Willcox, Anthony J. Bron, Carlos Belmonte, Joseph B. Ciolino, Jennifer P. Craig, Murat Dogru, Gary N. Foulks, Lyndon Jones, J. Daniel Nelson, Kelly K. Nichols, Christine Purslow, Debra A. Schaumberg, Fiona Stapleton, David A. Sullivan. The TFOS International Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort: Executive Summary. October 18, 2013; 54:7–13.

• Jason J. Nichols, Lyndon Jones, J. Daniel Nelson, Fiona Stapleton, David A. Sullivan, Mark D. P. Willcox. The TFOS International Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort: Introduction. October 18, 2013; 54:1–6.

This also reflects an impressive involvement of Academy Fellows, optometric researchers, and optometrists in the TFOS International Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort.

The workshop was chaired by our own Academy Fellow Jason J. Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD, FAAO, who commented, “Up to half of all contact lens wearers experience contact lens discomfort (CLD). However, there is no global consensus concerning the definition, classification, epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, management, and proper design of clinical studies for CLD.”

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American Academy of Optometry’s Live Learning Center

The Academy of Optometry recently announced the initiation of the American Academy of Optometry’s Live Learning Center, an online learning portal where you can listen to the audio recordings of past annual meetings and get COPE (Council on Optometric Practitioner Education)-approved credit for selected courses from Academy 2013 Seattle. Credit for distance learning is contingent on the state requirements where the member holds his or her license. Members receive complimentary access to all of the audio recordings (2009 to present) and can access the online tests for only $25 per course. Members will shortly be receiving a link to the site, along with their login credentials from Multiview, the company hosting the site.

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Passing of Distinguished Leader in Optometric Education, World Optometry, and Academy

Dr. William Russell Baldwin died of congestive heart failure at the age of 87 on February 14, 2014. He became a Fellow of our Academy in 1954 and served as chair of several Academy Committees.

After enlisting in the US Navy to serve his country in World War II, Dr. Baldwin completed his education and then spent a distinguished career in optometric education serving as the Dean of Optometry at Pacific University from 1963 to 1969, President of New England College of Optometry in Boston from 1969 to 1979, and Dean of the University of Houston College of Optometry from 1979 to 1990.

A leader in optometry, he established schools in Nigeria, Israel, Poland, and Sri Lanka and has received several awards and recognitions including a Distinguished Alumni Service Award from Indiana University, recognition from the National Optometry Hall of Fame, and an Ezell Fellowship from the American Optometric Foundation. Dr. Baldwin was chosen to be the first optometrist to serve on the USS Hope and served on the board of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and as its president from 1974 to 1976. Dr. Baldwin served on the board of the American Optometric Foundation from 2001 to 2002.

Dr. Baldwin is survived by his wife of 66 years, Honey E. (Fisher) Baldwin; daughter Leslie Ann Bloom of Bloomington; grandson Kelly Smith and his wife Chris of Bloomington; granddaughter Karen Weesner and her husband Dan of Sheridan; grandsons Shawn Bloom, Michael Bloom, and David Bloom, all of Boston, MA; five great-grandchildren; and sister D. Irene Wilkins and her husband Ray of Fountaintown, IN.

A whole generation of young (then) Academy attendees will have very fond memories of the Baldwin, Flom, and Heath trio at many Academy annual meetings in the 1960s and 1970s.

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NEI Funding for Optometry Schools and Colleges

On February 11, 2014, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) released its report on research funding for optometry schools and colleges in 2012 to 2013. United States schools and colleges had 137 projects funded by the National Institutes of Health of the total of 156 federally funded projects to the schools. Of those, 126 of the 137 were funded through the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health amounting to a little more than $26 million. Although this is impressive support for optometric researchers, the NEI funding for the schools and colleges is essentially unchanged (in actual dollars) since 2008 to 2009. It remains one-half of all competitive research funding to the schools and colleges, and the funding for each school is also fairly flat since 2008, with two schools (UH and UCB) receiving a little more than 50% of all NEI funding for optometry. The total research funding for all US schools and colleges, from all sources (federal, state, and private), was a little less than $50 million in 2012 to 2013. Clearly, research funding is a critical part of schools and colleges of optometry, as is the research their researchers conduct. Little wonder that the activities of the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, primarily focused on supporting funding of NEI, are so well supported by optometry; it has been a worthwhile investment.

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Contact Kimberly O’Sullivan Director, Communications Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry for the full report (see ASCO Web site).

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Shrimp Sight: 12 Different Photoreceptors and No Color Vision?

According to Jeff Akst (The Scientist, January 24, 2014), “Although mantis shrimp (Haptosquilla trispinosa) eyes have 12 different photoreceptors, the crustaceans have a hard time distinguishing colors, according to a new study. The eyes of mantis shrimp are impressive. Each eye, which sits atop a stalk that projects from the shrimp’s head, is able to perceive distance on its own through a process called trinocular vision and can perceive circularly polarized light. And according to a study published this week (January 23) in Science, the crustaceans visualize colors very differently than all other animals. With 12 different photoreceptors, including four that respond to wavelengths in the ultraviolet light spectrum, some researchers had suspected that mantis shrimp were better distinguishers of color than humans, with just three: red, green, and blue.”

Apparently, not so. As Akst goes on to note, “Surprisingly, the shrimp did not fare well: when the wavelengths of colors tested were less than 25 nm apart, the shrimp failed to distinguish them.” For context, your OVS Editor notes that even so-called color-blind humans can do better than that across most of the visible spectrum. The article can be found at Science, January 24, 2014, Vol. 343, no. 6169, pp. 411–413. DOI: 10.1126/science.1245824.

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New Research Funding?

According to the journal Science (January 17, 2014), late in January, a $1.1 trillion spending plan for 2014 that Congress was expected to approve is getting mixed reviews from research advocates. As they reported, “They are applauding budget increases awarded to many agencies that fund the physical sciences, including NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy. But biomedical lobbyists are less enthusiastic about a $1 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, saying it goes only partway to undoing the damage caused by the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration made in 2013.”

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Vision Screening in Cambodia

We recently learned of a school screening program in Cambodia that is part of improving access to eye care in that country. Optometry Giving Sight supports it. Apparently, more than 5000 students were screened in 1 week recently. Once trained, teachers and ministry staff assist actively by working classroom by classroom within the target school, providing children with the initial screening and referring those potentially with vision problems to the eye care professionals on-site for a full eye examination and diagnosis. The trainees are a crucial part of the process owing to the high numbers needing screening at each school. Professor Brien Holden, of Brien Holden Vision Institute, spoke in support of the child eye health work in Phnom Penh, “Over the last 2 years, eye care in the capital of Cambodia has received some significant changes. I am proud to say that the school screening program, which not only services the schools but supports the communities in which the children live, has made great and positive steps into creating accessible eye care for people of Phnom Penh. The foundations are now in place. We need to keep building on the current achievements,” said Holden. “To effectively bridge the eye care gap in Cambodia, organizations such as the Institute and Optometry Giving Sight must continue to support initiatives such as the school screening program and its service to the surrounding communities, until this level of access becomes a sustainable integrated system for all Cambodian people,” he said.

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Light and Myopia, Now Light and Blood Pressure?

A recent article in The Scientist (January 20, 2014; Tracy Vence) points to a study that reports that UVA exposure reduces human blood pressure by releasing nitric oxide (NO) metabolites from storage in the skin. Vence notes, “For years, researchers have reported predictable seasonal variations in human blood pressure. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures tend to be greatest during the winter months and lowest in the summer. Many variations in sun exposure may be the answer. In 2009, a team led by the University of Edinburgh’s Richard Weller showed that human skin and the dermal vasculature contain significant stores of NO—much more than can be found circulating in the blood—and that these stores could be mobilized by UVA (long-wave UV) irradiation.

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For the present study, Feelisch, Weller, and their colleagues investigated the effects of UVA exposure—equivalent to 30 minutes of sun exposure at noon on a clear day in Southern Europe—on 24 healthy volunteers, controlling for both temperature and dietary nitrate. The researchers found plasma nitrate and nitrite changes, as well as reductions in blood pressure, that were consistent with the release of NO from skin storage. ‘These observations support a mechanism for the modulation of systemic NO bioactivity and a possible role of the skin in cardiovascular homeostasis,’ he and his colleagues wrote.”

The research publication details are as follows: D. Liu et al., UVA irradiation of human skin vasodilates arterial vasculature and lowers blood pressure independently of nitric oxide synthase. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, doi: 10.1038/jid.2014.27, 2014.

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Colorful Fish

Understanding the many impressive colors of fish is an interest of researchers. Abby Olena (The Scientist; January 23, 2014) brings interest to the subject by reporting on efforts to seek insight into the pigmentation patterns of guppies and zebrafish. Zebrafish are a favorite fish for studies of vision and the organization of the neural pathways. Olena highlights the report by noting two recent studies that have learned how cells are organized to give male guppies their vibrant colors and zebrafish their yellow and black stripes. Both are products of pigment cells. In one of the studies in Japan, Olena notes, “(the researchers) investigated the formation of the zebrafish’s stripes, which the literature suggests are generated by the interactions of two types of pigment cells—melanophores and xanthophores. Their findings revealed that in vitro normal xanthophores—harvested from the tail fin of an adult fish—contacted melanophores by extending pseudopodia. The melanophores then moved away from the contact. When the researchers studied pigment cells from a mutant fish called ‘leopard,’ which has spots instead of stripes, they found that even though the xanthophores extended processes toward the melanophores, the melanophores did not move away. The authors suggested a model of stripe formation where ‘cells themselves move actively to form patterns through mutual interactions.’ While the in vitro system may be useful for studying pigment cell communication, it is still unclear how biologically relevant the findings are.” In fact, it seems that this and the other report have drawn some skeptical responses from a couple of colleagues.

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Pilot Children’s Vision Champion Project Funded in Tanzania

On January 22, 2014, we learned that a US $80,000 grant funded by the Lions Club International Foundation’s Sight First Program “is enabling a first-of-its-kind study into the viability and success of a child-to-child eye screening training project in Bariada, Tanzania. The project aims to train schoolchildren as Vision Champions to test the eyes of their peers, family, and community members. The Vision Champions are envisaged to be around 12 years old and are interested learners who show aptitude in their studies. Part of the training is focusing on schoolchildren being taught to give other’s simple screening tests to identify those who may require further eye care. The project also aims to encourage the children to raise awareness about the importance of good eye health.

According to Professor Naidoo, the principal investigator for the research project, research studies have shown that high cost, language barriers, lack of access, distance, and remoteness play a part in people not having regular eye examinations. “Training community members to screen the eyes of the people they live close to can help overcome many of these barriers by decreasing cost and increasing knowledge and accessibility.”

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Holy Leaping Bullfrogs: Now THAT Is a Leap!

Mark Twain fans will recall his 1867 book of short stories, including the short story of the same name, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”—a story about a now famous Calaveras County (California) Jumping Frog Jubilee annual frog jumping competition. According to Wikipedia, “In it, the narrator retells a story he heard from a bartender, Simon Wheeler, at the Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, about the gambler Jim Smiley. Twain describes him: ‘If he even seen a straddle bug start to go anywheres, he would bet you how long it would take him to get to wherever he going to, and if you took him up, he would foller that straddle bug to Mexico but what he would find out where he was bound for and how long he was on the road.’” At this point, our Australian OVS readers might recall the “betting on two flies walking up a wall” expression, commonly used in the last century.

Now we learn, from a careful review of the records, that the frogs at that Jumping Frog Jubilee actually jumped twice as far as today’s research laboratory frogs. The story of this revelation is told in The Scientist (Jef Akst, January 2014). Akst introduces the story with “While perusing the Guinness Book of World Records with his son a few years ago, biomechanics researcher Thomas Roberts of Brown University stumbled upon an entry regarding Rosie the Ribeter [sic], a competitor in the 1986 Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee. That year, Rosie, a bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeiana), leapt 6.55 m (21 ft 5.75 inches) in a three-jump series, averaging 2.18 m per jump. Not only did the impressive leaps constitute a world record, they obliterated the official upper limit of bullfrog jump length, or maximal performance, published in the scientific literature (usually around 1 m or less, with one report of 1.3 m), and the comparable data Roberts and his students were collecting in his laboratory.”

The explanation?

Akst notes that researchers went to the fair for 4 days recently and confirmed that frogs were really jumping more than 2 m. He comments, “Sure enough, their analysis revealed that 58% of the 3124 jumps they quantified exceeded the 1.3-m maximum jump distance reported in the literature. The frogs at the fair jumped as far as 2.2 m in a single bound. In addition to casting doubt on previously published estimates of maximal bullfrog jump performance, the findings support the idea that the leg muscle itself is not sufficient to generate the power needed for such long leaps. Like other frog species, bullfrogs may have elastic tendons that work in a stretch-recoil fashion.” According to one of the researchers, previously measured laboratory jumps were probably not far enough to need a catapult mechanism.

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Sense of Touch Reestablished

Whenever any of the senses are restored, even partially, through advances in medical discovery, we await (sometimes far too impatiently) for it to become an everyday application to help people. Our interests focus on the sense of sight; our attention has been drawn in recent years to retinal prostheses that offer hope for some restoration of useful, albeit crude, aspects of vision. But here is a story I recently found that shows that the sensation of touch was temporarily and partially restored with electrical reconnections to the upper arm of a person who had completely lost his lower arm. A medical writer for The Scientist (Kate Yandell; February 5, 2014) reported such a case. Yandell describes, “A man (Sorenson) whose hand and lower arm were amputated could sense shapes and stiffness and modulate the force of his grasp using a prosthetic hand that was temporarily wired to nerves in his upper arm.” She based her report on an article published the same day (S. Raspopovic et al., Restoring natural sensory feedback in real-time bidirectional hand prostheses, Science Translational Medicine. 2014;6:222ra19).

Yandell provides an interesting perspective on what was achieved, “In January 2013, surgeons at Gemelli Hospital in Rome performed a 7-hour surgery on Sorensen implant microelectrodes into the median and ulnar nerves in his upper arm. The ulnar nerve corresponds to the pinky and part of the fourth finger and palm, while the median nerve transmits feeling to the thumb and remaining fingers and palmar area.

Following extensive mapping of Sorensen’s sensations in response to electrical current, the researchers attached a motorized prosthetic hand to his stump. The new prosthetic hand is equipped with tension sensors that measure force being applied by the index and pinky fingers. The force data are then translated into electrical current via a computer algorithm, producing sensations that the user perceives as coming from his missing hand. Usually, the challenge of operating a motorized prosthetic hand is that it has no sensation; users must watch its movements and listen to its motor carefully in order to adjust their grasp accordingly. For this study, Sorensen wore an eye mask and ear buds to eliminate these aural and visual aids. First, he showed that he was able to apply three distinct levels of force while grasping a pressure sensor chamber with his prosthetic hand. When the researchers turned off sensory feedback without telling Sorensen, his performance suffered, indicating that he was indeed relying on the sense of touch to perform the tasks. The researchers also found that Sorensen was able to judge the stiffness of wood, a stack of disposable plastic cups, and a cotton pack without looking at them by grasping them with the prosthetic hand. He was also able to classify the shapes and relative sizes of a bottle, a baseball, and a mandarin orange. Finally, Sorensen was able to detect the orientation of objects in his palm and to grasp them using the appropriate fingers.”

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European Academy Launches First Strategic Plan

The European Academy of Optometry and Optics has launched its first 3-year strategic plan covering the period 2014 to 2016. Originally launched in 2009, the Academy plans to strengthen and develop its growing network of eye and vision care professionals across Europe to fulfill its vision to harmonize and raise the standards and practice of optometry and optics.

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IACLE Announces Awards for Achievement in Contact Lens Teaching

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) is offering educators around the world the chance to become IACLE International Contact Lens Educator of the Year under a new awards scheme launched February 10, 2014.

The IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year Awards will recognize and reward achievements in contact lens education worldwide. Sponsored by CooperVision and supported by the British Contact Lens Association, three prestigious awards will be presented in this first year, one from each of IACLE’s three regions:

*Asia Pacific

*Europe, Middle East, and Africa


The awards will be presented during the British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference and Exhibition in Birmingham, United Kingdom, from Friday, June 6, to Sunday, June 8, 2014.

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A Theme Issue on Interprofessional Education: Call for Papers

The journal of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, Optometric Education, has announced a future theme edition, which will focus on all aspects of interprofessional education (IPE). The deadline to submit articles for this theme edition is August 30, 2014. For additional information on the theme edition, contact Dr. Aurora Denial (

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The World Health Organization defines IPE as “the occasions when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other, how to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.” Recent changes in health care policy and delivery have led to an increased awareness of the importance of IPE. Optometric Education has shown a strong interest in IPE. The sharing of accomplishments, lessons learned, and outcomes will help others striving to implement IPE into their curriculum.

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Essilor Acquires Costa

Essilor International announced February 3, 2014, that it has finalized the acquisition of all outstanding shares of Costa Inc, a provider of sunglasses.

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Google Partners with Vision Insurance Company

On February 3, 2014, Google announced that it had partnered with vision insurance company VSP Vision Care to offer prescription lenses and subsidized frames for Google Glass, the wearable computer. “The VSP/Google partnership includes developing and implementing a training certification for providers, high-quality and experienced manufacturing through the VSPOne Sacramento lab and reimbursement coverage for VSP members and providers.” VSP notes that Google Glass is currently only open to its Explorer program members, but the company hopes to offer the technology to consumers at the end of 2014. VSP said it would reimburse members depending on the type of plan they have. However, the frame cost and reimbursement do not include the price of the Google Glass technology. Google also announced the addition of four styles of frames: split, thin, bold, and curve. At this time, the company has eye care professionals trained to fit the Google Glass technology in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, with plans to expand in the coming months.

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New Color Vision Test

On January 4, 2014, Thieme Publishers announced new plates for Color Vision Testing (Plates for Color Vision Testing, Kuchenbecker/Broschmann, Thieme Publishers, New York, Stuttgart, 2014, 80 pp, 32 illustrations, Hardback ISBN: 9783131754813 EUR49.99/$69.99). The test features 32 color plates that use the principles of pseudoisochromasia (distinguishing numbers and letters on a color background) and pseudoanisochromasia (detecting characters of differing brightness on a color background) to “assess and classify a wide range of disorders.”

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New 40H Slit Lamp from Keeler

On February 4, 2014, Keeler announced the release of its new 40H slit lamp. They report, “The 40H optical system uses Galilean converging binoculars and a rotating five-step drum that offers up to 40× magnification. The tower illumination and slit projection system has continuously variable slit widths between 0 and 12 mm. Blue, red free and neutral density filters and an integral diffuser provide a good visual of the whole eye at low magnification. To assess for uveitis, a 1-mm square graticule is included within the aperture selections. The controls are perfectly placed for ease of use, without compromising the clean and elegant lines of the product. An integral yellow barrier filter is conveniently housed in the optics block, which is easily pushed in place when you are looking to detect subtle corneal staining. The illumination is controlled by a rheostat conveniently positioned adjacent to the gliding joystick. The systems come in standard Halogen lamp or LED illumination, which lowers lifetime ownership costs.”

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M&S Glare Testing System Gets US Patent

The M&S Glare Testing System was awarded a US Patent for Glare Testing on February 6, 2014. The Glare Testing System is made up of four light-emitting diode lights mounted to the Smart System visual acuity testing system, which can replicate real-life glare conditions, according to the press release. The technology “helps evaluate patients with vision difficulties due to glare, especially those who experience it while driving at night.”

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© 2014 American Academy of Optometry