Henry B. Peters Academy Memorial Lecture Established
The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and the American Optometric Foundation announced plans to establish the Henry B. Peters Memorial Lecture, to be presented annually in the Academy's Public Health and Environmental Vision section program.
The annual lecture will recognize Dr. Peters' many accomplishments to the Academy and to the profession. During his lifetime, Dr. Peters contributed significantly to the reputation of two major schools of optometry, the University of California at Berkeley as associate dean and the University of Alabama Birmingham as the founding dean and inaugural faculty member. His primary research effort, commonly known as The Orinda Study (1959), paved the way for school-based vision screening and is still discussed in colleges and universities today. Dr. Peters was a founding member of Vision Service Plan, one of the largest vision health insurance programs in the United States. He was named a Fellow of the AAO in 1946; and remained active in the Academy throughout his career, serving as chair of several committees and as President from 1972 to 1974. The Academy selected Dr. Peters as the first recipient of the Carel C. Koch Medal for Interprofessional Relations in 1974.
Patterned after the Schapero Award in the Cornea, Contact Lenses, and Refractive Technologies section, and the Brazelton Award in the Low Vision section, the Peters Award will feature a prominent speaker in optometry and public health or environmental vision who will address contemporary issues in both fields. To fund a nationally or internationally known speaker, the Public Health and Environmental Optometry section needs to raise at least $25,000 for an endowment.
If the endowment corpus is achieved by November 2010, the inaugural Peters lecture will be planned for the Academy's 2011 annual meeting in Boston. For more information and to donate, please visit http://www.aaopt.org/aof/contribute/peters/
Academy Fellow Moves Quickly as Head of a New Optometry School in Australia
Early in November 2009, Academy Fellow and recent Garland Clay and Irv Borish Awardee, and the newest member of the Optometry and Vision Science Editorial Board, Konrad Pesudovs, OD, PhD, FAAO, accepted the position as Professor and Foundation Chair of Optometry and Vision Science of the new School at Flinders University Medical Center in South Australia. He wasted no time in garnering significant funding from the Australia Government!
In April 2010, the Australian Government provided a boost to the Flinders University, which will share $10AU million in funding with two other universities in Adelaide, South Australia. Dr Konrad Pesudovs submitted the successful optometry proposals, for close to $1.5AU million. The support is for infrastructure and equipment to provide placements in private practice settings in rural and urban settings throughout South Australia. Many of these clinical placements use a variety of community and private settings not traditionally used for this type of training. Students will benefit from new supervision and mentoring mechanisms and will get to experience work in team-based training.
Academy Fellows Inducted into National Academies of Practice
On March 20, 2010, in Arlington, VA, eight Academy Fellows were inducted into the prestigious National Academies of Practice (NAP). They are R. Norman Bailey, Barry J. Barresi, Paul Berman, Sandra S. Block, Rachael A. Coulter, Debbie L. Hettler, Janice M. Jurkus, and Clarke D. Newman.
Also, Ron G. Fair, OD, FAAO, received the inaugural James A. Boucher Excellence in Visual Health Care Award at the meeting. This Award, named for the first Chair of the NAP Optometry Academy, is given annually to an NAP Optometry member who has demonstrated exemplary direction and leadership in visual science, public health, and/or clinical service. Dr. Fair was President of the NAP in 1996 to 1999, and received the AAO's Carel C. Koch Memorial Medal for outstanding contributions to interprofessional relations in 1995.
The NAP (http://www.napractice.org>www.napractice.org) is an interdisciplinary organization of 10 healthcare disciplines (dentistry, allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, social work, psychology, podiatric medicine, and veterinary medicine); and membership is limited to 150 distinguished practitioners and scholars in each of the 10 healthcare professions. The current officers of the NAP Optometry Academy are all AAO Fellows: Satya Verma (Chair), Jan Cooper (Co-Chair), and Linda Casser (Secretary-Treasurer).
ORGANIZATION & INSTITUTION NEWS
Netherlands Contact Lens Conference Attracts Large Attendance
Eef van der Worp, PhD, FAAO, a member of the scientific conference committee, recently reported, “The third Netherlands Contact Lens Conference (NCC) took place on March 14 to 15, 2010 in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. NCC has become the largest contact lens meeting in the world.”
With a theme of “The Next Decade,” NCC kicked off with some familiar Academy of Optometry Fellows: Nathan Efron, OD, PhD, FAAO; Brien Holden, OD, PhD, FAAO; Lyndon Jones, OD, PhD, FAAO; Helen Swabrick, OD, PhD, FAAO; and Philip Morgan, PhD, MCOptom, FAAO, providing their opinion on contact lenses in the Next Decade.
The next NCC meeting will take place on March 11 and 12, 2012.
Additional Genes Associated with Age-Related Macular Degeneration Identified
The National Eye Institute (NEI) recently announced that a large genetic study of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has identified three new genes associated with this blinding eye disease-two involved in the cholesterol pathway. Results of this large-scale collaborative study, supported by the NEI, part of the National Institutes of Health, were published online April 12, 2010 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Genome-wide association studies require large numbers of patients to discover significant genetic associations. The success of this effort was made possible by a community-wide scientific collaboration of sharing DNA samples and analyzing the genomes of more than 18,000 people,” said Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, NEI director. “This study increases our understanding of DNA variations that predict individual risks of AMD and provides clues for developing effective therapies.”
AMD is a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness in older Americans. Researchers have previously discovered genes that account for a significant portion of AMD risk through genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which scan the entire DNA of individuals to uncover genetic variations related to certain diseases. The recent large GWAS was led by Anand Swaroop, PhD, chief of the NEI Neurobiology-Neurodegeneration and Repair Laboratory currently, and Goncalo Abecasis, DPhil, professor of biostatistics at the University of Ann Arbor, MI.
The strongest AMD genetic association found in the study was in a region on chromosome 22, near a gene called metalloproteinase inhibitor 3 (TIMP3). Mutations in the TIMP3 gene were previously found to cause Sorsby's fundus dystrophy, a rare inherited early-onset form of macular degeneration. Although further research is needed, it is likely that the genetic region pinpointed influences the expression of TIMP3.
The study has also shed light on a new biological pathway for AMD disease development, by uncovering two genes associated with AMD risk in the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol pathway: human hepatic lipase (LIPC) and cholesterol ester transfer protein. Scientists identified two additional genes, lipoprotein lipase and ATP binding cassette transporter 1, which may be involved in the cholesterol pathway as well, but more research is needed to confirm these findings.
HDLs are among a family of lipoproteins that transport essential fats, such as cholesterol, through the bloodstream. It is believed that early stages of AMD are affected by accumulation of oxidation products of cholesterol and other lipids in the retinal pigment epithelium, a layer of cells in the back of the eye. However, the relationship between HDL cholesterol levels in the blood and AMD is still unclear.
“We suspect that these genetic variations found in the cholesterol pathway impact the retina differently from the circulatory system, so cholesterol levels in the blood may not provide meaningful information about AMD risk,” Swaroop explained. “Nonetheless, we have uncovered a major biochemical pathway that may be a target for future AMD treatments.”
The First European Congress on Visual Disabilities
The First European Congress on Visual Disabilities will take place October 22 to 24, 2010, in Valladolid, Spain. The program will include many world- recognized speakers. Among them will be Drs Frank Eperjesi, Duane R. Geruschat, Aries Arditi, Krister Inde, Michael Cross-land, and Ian Bailey. Themes of the meeting will include accessibility to the environment and communication; workplace adaptations for people with visual impairment; education and rehabilitation for children at school; gerontology and visual impairment; disease causing visual impairment; and the social and demographic impact of visual impairment. The preliminary program can be seen at:
Optometry Faculty Colleague Receives Prestigious Tillyer Medal
Stephen Burns, PhD, of the Indiana University School of Optometry, has won the Optical Society of America's Edgar D. Tillyer Award. The Award is for his “outstanding contributions to the science of color vision and color imaging systems” as well as research in brain imaging.
The Tillyer Award was established in 1953 through an endowment from the American Optical Co. It is presented not more than once every 2 years to a person who has performed distinguished work in the field of vision, including (but not limited to) the optics, physiology, anatomy, or psychology of the visual system. Burns' work at Indiana University School of Optometry focuses on human color vision, with an emphasis on photoreceptor function in health in disease.
In the almost 60 years since the award was established only a few other colleagues from optometry schools have received this Award (Fry, Westheimer, Alpern, DeValois, and Barlow).
Decade of Vision Congressional Briefing: Artificial Retina
On the eve of Healthy Vision Month (May 2010), the Association for Eye and Vision Research's (AEVR) Decade of Vision 2010 to 2020 Initiative joined with Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) to host a Congressional Briefing entitled The Bionic Eye: An Artificial Retina that Brings Sight to the Blind. The featured speaker was Mark Humayun, MD, PhD (Doheny Eye Institute/University of Southern California). AEVR and FFB featured this unprecedented technology because it represents the confluence of the biomedical and physical sciences, as well as a unique partnership between federal and private funding sources that engage researchers from national government laboratories, universities, and industry.
NAEVR Session at ARVO Annual Meeting: Defense-Related Vision Research
At ARVO 2010, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research featured a session on defense-related vision research opportunities and educated researchers on how to best prepare grant submissions. Speakers included Robert Read from the Department of Defense's (DOD) Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, which manages the dedicated Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision line item in defense appropriations, and Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D., who directs the DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence.
Identifying Premature Infants Most Likely to Benefit From Early Retinopathy of Prematurity Treatment
In recent study, researchers at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute highlighted that the benefit of early treatment of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) may continue through 6 years of age. They reported long-term results from the “Early Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity” study, which included 370 children, in a recent issue of Archives of Ophthalmology. ROP affects about 15,000 premature infants born each year in the United States.
Virginia Law Requires Coverage of Telemedicine Services
On April 6, 2010, Virginia adopted a new state law mandating that health insurers provide coverage for medical services delivered to more remote areas of Virginia via video or audio conferencing capabilities. Apparently insurers and health maintenance organizations no longer exclude a service solely because it is not provided through face-to-face consultation.
Renewal of Board Certifications for Physicians
The Associated Press recently reported, “For the first time since leaving medical school, many doctors are having to take tests to renew board certification in their fields—147 specialties from dermatology to obstetrics. Physicians who have been certified since the 1990s are required to retest every six to 10 years.”
Report of Reversal of Type 1 Diabetes in Mice
According to a study published online April 8, 2010, in the journal Immunity, University of Calgary researchers have successfully reversed type 1 diabetes in mice using a new vaccine technology that appears to solely target the immune system cells responsible for the disease. They use a ‘nanotechnology-based' vaccine. The autoregulatory T cells turn off the signal for the stronger immune cells to attack, effectively stopping the destruction of the beta cells. The possibility has been reported that the study's findings may help find new ways to manage other autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The AOA Foundation Selects 2010 Scholarship Grant Recipients
In early April, the AOA Foundation's Endowment Fund Advisory Committee announced its 2010 Scholarship Grant recipients. The AOA Foundation sponsors an annual essay contest for two separate and distinct national scholarship programs. The InfantSEE Scholarship Grant was created by Vision West. (VWI), to promote InfantSEE, a no-cost public health program developed to provide professional eye care for infants nationwide. Each accredited school or college of optometry was invited to submit one nominee for each scholarship topic.
Larger Size Intacs Corneal Implants for Keratoconus Approved
Addition Technology, the maker of Intacs corneal implants, AlphaSphere orbital implants and the AlphaCor artificial cornea, announced on April 7, 2010, that it has received FDA approval for an expanded range of additional sizes of Intacs corneal implants for keratoconus.
Bausch and Lomb Announces Eye Vitamin and Mineral Supplement
Bausch and Lomb announced the U.S. launch of PreserVision Eye Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) 2 formula on April 9, 2010. This builds on the original AREDS formula, replacing beta-carotene with lutein (10 mg) and zeaxanthin (2 mg) and adding omega-3 fatty acids (1000 mg) per daily dosage. The product became available early in May 2010.
The AREDS2 study, which is currently ongoing and expected to complete in 2013, is sponsored by the NEI/National Institute of Health and is the second nationwide clinical study to determine whether a combination of vitamins and minerals can further slow the progression of vision loss from AMD. PreserVision AREDS 2 formula is one of many formulas that are being evaluated in this study.