Academy of Optometry Fellows Honored
For the 28th year, the independent Scientific Selection Committee of the Alcon Research Institute (ARI) recently made awards to two outstanding researchers who have dedicated their lives to studying sight. Robert Massof, PhD, FAAO, and Eli Peli, OD, MSc, FAAO, were nominated by previous winners and have been selected to jointly receive one of the five prestigious awards presented this year. Dr. Massof and Dr. Peli will share $200,000 in unrestricted grant money to continue their research and will be recognized at the next ARI Symposium. Both Dr. Massof and Dr. Peli are Academy of Optometry Fellows, and Dr Peli is the first optometrist to receive this prestigious award.
“We are honored to be recognized by and to join this illustrious group of ophthalmic researchers,” said Dr. Massof. Dr. Peli added, “We are very pleased that the ARI chose to highlight the importance and value of vision rehabilitation as a critical part of the spectrum of care for people with impaired vision.” Dr. Massof and Dr. Peli conduct research on low vision rehabilitation. Their work is devoted to developing new technology and clinical methods for restoring lost function to people with disabling visual impairments. Dr. Massof is a graduate of Indiana University and is now a professor and director at the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Peli is a graduate of the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and the New England College of Optometry. He currently serves as a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and as the Moakley Scholar in Aging Eye Research at the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr. Stanley Chang, chairman of ARI, Edward Harkness Professor, and chair of Ophthalmology, Columbia University, noted, “The scientific contributions these two have made to the study of vision will have profound effects on future research and treatments.”
Academy Fellow Recognized for Outstanding Global Achievements in Delivering Eye Care
On April 7, 2009, in London, UK, Associate Professor Kovin Naidoo, OD, MPH, FAAO, was recognized for his outstanding contributions to optometry and prevention of avoidable blindness and vision impairment, with the award of an Honorary Fellowship by the British College of Optometrists. As Global Director of Programmes for the International Centre for Eyecare Education, Kovin Naidoo has been resolute in his commitment to raise awareness of the impact of unnecessary vision loss, deliver basic eye care services to people in need and especially, campaigning at all levels to develop a systematic global solution.
Kovin was awarded the International Optometrist of the Year by the World Council of Optometry in 2007 and in 2002 was named African Optometrist of the Year. He was a former Fulbright Scholar. Professor Naidoo is currently a Professor of Optometry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in the United States, and is a Board member of Optometry Giving Sight.
ORGANIZATION AND INSTITUTION NEWS
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice: Hope for Humans
On April 10, HealthDay reporter (Thomas) noted, “Stem cells injected into the eyes of mice with defective corneas returned the corneas to a more normal appearance.” She was referring to the hope that the procedure might one day be an alternative to corneal transplants in humans, which now number 40,000 each year in the United States. Her article was based on an on-line publication in Stem Cells (April 9). Thomas noted, “After growing stem cell cultures in the lab, the researchers injected the stem cells into the eyes of mice bred to have defective corneas that mimic scar tissue in humans. After 3 months, the stem cells had regenerated the collagen fibers, making the damaged corneas in the mice look normal, the researchers reported. After 1 year, the mice corneas still appeared normal. (The) procedure may someday replace transplants in people, (some) experts say.”
Growth Factor TGF-Beta Role in Maintaining Health of Retinal Blood Vessels
Scientists at Schepens Eye Research Institute have found that the growth factor known as TGF-beta is essential to the health of blood vessels in the retina and that blocking it can cause retinal dysfunction. These findings, published in the April 2 issue of PLoS ONE, may have an important impact on the prevention and treatment of diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
A Message from NAEVR President to the Vision Community
Stephen J. Ryan, MD, and President of NAEVR/AEVR reports, “As Congress goes into its Spring recess, I wanted to update you on first-quarter 2009 activities. Between the economic stimulus and the Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations, vision researchers will have access to at least an additional $200 million in funding from the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the Department of Defense. That is a 400-fold return on our community’s investment in NAEVR/AEVR and remarkable in today’s market. Although the economic downturn has been devastating for the private sector, with less funds for research from philanthropic organizations and industry, the federal government has made more funds available for vision research than ever before.
NAEVR, primarily through the efforts of Executive Director Jim Jorkasky, his team, and NAEVR network members, advocated tirelessly for these funding increase with Congress and the Obama Administration. NAEVR had a constant presence and leadership position on Capitol Hill this first quarter through advocacy and educational events, which are all documented on the NAEVR Web site at <http://www.eyeresearch.org>.
NAEVR has launched its efforts to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the NEI in 2009, as well as its Decade of Vision 2010 to 2020 Initiative to maintain a sustained awareness of the value of federally funded vision research for all Americans. NAEVR is engaged with its Congressional champions to offer both House and Senate resolutions acknowledging NEI’s 40th anniversary and designating 2010 to 2020 as the Decade of Vision. NAEVR is also planning a June 11 Capitol Hill reception to celebrate these events and the achievements in vision research thanks to the strong support of so many.
I know these are tough economic times, but I especially want to thank those organizations that have contributed to NAEVR/ AEVR in 2009. Although we are small relative to other advocacy organizations, we are among the most effective in advocating and educating about the value of research. That fact is reinforced by the 400-fold return on investment!”
Stephen J. Ryan, President, NAEVR/AEVR.
FDA Advisory Panel Recommends Approval of Implantable Eye Telescope for Patients with End-Stage AMD
Late in March, an advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unanimously recommended that the agency approve the implant. Clinical trial data indicated that the remarkably small telescope might improve vision by a few lines of visual acuity. The device, developed by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies, has two lenses in a small glass tube like a fixed telephoto lens. The implant is placed in only one eye. Given past reports the panel needed to decide whether the new data provided reasonable assurance of an acceptable long-term risk of corneal decompensation. End-stage AMD occurs when the macula in each eye is irreversibly degenerated and is characterized by central scotomas, or blind spots, in both eyes that cause images in the central visual field to be unrecognizable or not visible at all.
Recommendation for Continuation of Clinical Trials in Use of Iluvien for the Treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema
Alimera Sciences, Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical company that specializes in the research, development, and commercialization of prescription ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, reported April 8, 2009 that an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board has recommended the continuation of two pivotal phase 3 clinical trials for the use of Iluvien in the treatment of diabetic macular edema under the current protocol, without change. The Board completed its final review of the currently available safety and efficacy data before the readout in October 2009.
Mobile Clinics Now Using Social Media to Communicate Efforts
In the first quarter of 2009, the VSP Mobile Eyes program, in partnership with network doctors, provided outreach to close to 2000 low-income, uninsured and underinsured individuals and families from California to Florida. The mobile clinics traveled to 26 locations, including providing support at the International Special Olympics in Idaho and the PGA Transitions Championship at Innisbrook Golf Club in Florida. Close to 40 VSP eye doctors volunteered their time to work onboard the mobile eyecare clinics. The program began as an extension of relief efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. It allows VSP to respond to disasters immediately, and includes two mobile eyecare clinics and 10 sets of portable ophthalmic equipment.
The VSP Mobile Eyes program also started using social media as a way to interact with the community through Twitter. This communication includes providing updates on events, the clinics participating in as well as communicating with those affected in disaster regions, such as the flooding in North Dakota and tornadoes in Mississippi. To follow the activities of the mobile clinics on Twitter, go to <http://www.twitter.com/SeeZar>www.twitter.com/SeeZar and <http://www.twitter.com/SeeLia>www.twitter.com/SeeLia.
Free Bilingual Eye Exam Guide Now Available to Eyecare Professionals
To help facilitate dialogue during an eye examination between English-speaking eyecare professionals and Hispanic patients, Transitions Optical has developed the What to Expect.
Bilingual Eye Exam Guide
This free bilingual guide illustrates key steps that will help provide a more in-depth discussion between eyecare professionals and their patients to help reveal additional lifestyle-related information critical to making recommendations for eyecare and eyewear.
The Bilingual Eye Exam Guide is distributed to optical professionals nationwide and has 12 8- by 8-inch cards detailing each step of the eye examination process. The cards feature an illustration of how the test will be conducted and what equipment will be used. Also, the cards explain why the patient is taking the test, how each test works, and what the results could mean to the patient’s eye health. The guide covers a number of preliminary and examination tests including: Near-Point, Color Vision, Visual Acuity, Penlight, Depth Perception, Refraction, Autorefraction, Biomicroscopy, Visual Field, Dilation, Eye Pressure, and Goldmann Tonometry.
New OCT Applications From Carl Zeiss Meditec for Cataract, Refractive, Glaucoma, and Retina Procedures
Carl Zeiss Meditec showcased advanced new optical coherence tomography (OCT) applications at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery meeting in San Francisco. They highlight the new suite of OCT innovations along with a first-ever cinematic showing of high-definition images that have been created using 3D rendering techniques by Dr. Carl Glittenberg of Austria.
The newest version of Cirrus HD-OCT 4.0 adds features to support cataract and refractive surgeons as well as advanced analyses for tracking change in glaucoma and managing retina disease. Cirrus 4.0 software has been released internationally and is pending FDA clearance in the U.S. Dynamic new features for Stratus OCT, reported to be the most widely adopted OCT platform worldwide, were also shown for the first time.
Richmond Products Inc.—New Trial Frames and Expansion Prisms for Hemianopic Patients
Richmond Products reports that their new trial frames are very comfortable due to their light weight—about one third the weight of other, typical adjustable trial frames—and secure nose rest. They can be sized to the patient’s needs, including adjustable temple length. The frames are available in sets or individually, and a PD rule is provided for fast and accurate frame selection Each frame holds three trial lenses in front and a fourth lens behind. A knob is used to rotate the axis of the front lenses. Pediatric frames are blue, in 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60 mm sizes. Adult frames are gray in 62, 64, 66, 68, and 70 mm. sizes. A set comprises five frames in a convenient storage box. (www.richmondproducts.com).
Richmond Products also offers expansion prisms for hemianopic patients. They note “hemianopic scotoma can often be alleviated using horizontal expansion 40 diopter prism segments to expand the visual field. The prisms provide about 20° visual expansion into the blind field for detection of obstacles. Tests at Schepens Eye Research Institute have resulted in a step-by-step fitting guide. A clinical trial demonstrated almost 50% of patients continued to use the expansion prisms due to improvement after 1 year’s use. The prism segments are also useful for stroke patients.” (www.richmondproducts.com).
Vistikon Announces Introduction of Acuvue Oasys Brand Contact Lenses for Presbyopia
In early April, Vistakon announced plans to introduce ACUVUE OASYS Brand Contact Lenses for presbyopia. The lens, which is the first new multifocal contact lens from the makers of Acuvue in 11 years, will be gradually introduced in some U.S. eye care professionals’ offices begin-ning in April and distribution will grow throughout 2009.