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Articles about intraocular lenses (IOLs)

AcrySof ReSTOR Lens Is FDA-Approved for Cataract Patients
AcrySof ReStor Lens Lets Cataract Patients See Both Near and Far, Says Clinical Study
AcrySof Natural Intraocular Lens Blocks Blue Light

Articles about cataracts

Eyedrop May Discourage Cataract Development in Diabetics
Low-Protein Diets May Lead to Cataracts?
Could Lead Exposure Cause Cataracts?
100 Million People May Go Blind Unnecessarily by 2020

Articles about glaucoma

HEALTH ANSWERS
HEALTHY HABITS
Biovitrum Initiates Clinical Phase II Study of Glaucoma Treatment
Diabetes is the Leading Cause of Blindness in Minnesota; Annual Eye Exams are Critical for Early Detection
Carl Zeiss Meditec Announces 2,600th GDx Installation in U.S.
Three New Hypotheses Reported by Catalyst For a Cure Researchers
Denial our main blind spot
Blindness threat increases

Articles about LASIK

Alcon's Custom Cornea for Lasik Shows Improved Farsighted Results
Lasik May Be Appropriate Where Normally Contraindicated

Articles, miscellaneous

Asthma Drugs May Be Linked to Cataracts
Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Could Help Prevent Cataract Progression
Vision Test Required for Elderly Florida Drivers
Perfect Vision, via Surgery, Is Helping and Hurting Navy

 

AcrySof ReSTOR Lens Is FDA-Approved for Cataract Patientss

Near, intermediate and distance vision are all corrected in cataract patients with the ReSTOR intraocular lens with apodized diffractive optics.

FORT WORTH, Texas, March 2005 — A new artificial lens (intraocular lens) that often can restore sight at near, intermediate, and distant ranges following cataract surgery received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, said Alcon Inc. officials in a news release.

"The clinical studies supporting the approval showed that 80 percent of patients who received the AcrySof ReSTOR lens did not use glasses for any activities after cataract surgery," the release said.

Other intraocular lenses may produce vision at all ranges by depending on the action of the eye's muscles accommodation). But the AcrySof ReSTOR lens provides different ranges of vision based on a lens configuration that enables specific distribution of light in response to how wide or small the eye's pupil might be. This light distribution design is called apodized diffractive optics.

Most current intraocular lenses used for cataract surgery are able to restore vision only in limited distance ranges, hich means patients often must use eyeglasses or other corrective lenses following surgery.

Alcon officials say surgeon training for use of the lens will begin in the United States in April, followed by commercial shipments of the lens in May.

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AcrySof ReStor Lens Lets Cataract Patients See Both Near and Far, Says Clinical Study

FORT WORTH, Texas, May 2004 — Most cataract surgery patients receive monofocal intraocular lenses (IOL), which restore their distance vision but require them to use reading glasses for reading and other close-up activities. The AcrySof ReStor IOL has demonstrated that it can substantially restore the ability to see both near and far, in a Phase III clinical study presented recently at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery annual meeting.

In 566 patients who received the lens, 99% achieved distance visual acuity of 20/40 or better, with 88% seeing 20/25 or better. Regarding near vision, 74% of those who had the implantation in both eyes achieved
20/25 vision. (This means they could read stock quotes printed in a newspaper.) And 85% achieved 20/40 or better vision at intermediate distance (the standard 60 cm distance between a person and his computer screen).

The AcrySof ReStor lens has received approval for marketing in Europe already, and Alcon Inc., the manufacturer, anticipates FDA approval in 2005.

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AcrySof Natural Intraocular Lens Blocks Blue Light

FORT WORTH, Texas, January 2004 — According to research, blue light may cause retinal damage, so Texas-based Alcon developed the AcrySof Natural foldable intraocular lens. The lens, which is used to replace a cataract patient's eye's natural lens that has become clouded, filters both ultraviolet and portions of high-energy blue light. The yellow-tinted intraocular lens has been available overseas since 2002 but is now FDA-approved for the U.S. market.

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Eyedrop May Discourage Cataract Development in Diabetics

INNSBRUCK, Austria, February 2004 — Diabetic rats that were given eyedrops containing verapamil, a calcium channel-blocker, developed fewer cataracts than rats that did not receive the eyedrops. And any cataracts that did form were less dense. The University of Innsbruck researchers said they could not explain the mechanism but suggested that verapamil be tested for age-related cataracts as well. The research is important for diabetics, since they are at high risk for cataracts. The study was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
AcrySof Natural IOL

Implantation of Alcon's AcrySof Natural IOL; the lens material is yellow because it filters out blue light, which may be harmful to eyes.

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Low-Protein Diets May Lead to Cataracts?

MONTPELLIER, France, March 2005 — Recently released results from a large French study indicate that amino acids and vitamins needed to maintain eye health could be missing in lower protein diets and may lead to development of cataracts, Archives of Ophthalmology reported in its February 2005 issue.

More than 2,200 people between ages 60 and 95 were included in final results of the Montpellier, France study, in which researchers noted that levels of essential amino acids and B vitamins could be lower in significant numbers of people who have cataracts.

Protein markers of plasma albumin and transthyretin were used in the analysis, which showed that low levels of transthyretin in particular can be associated with formation of the most common type of cataract (nuclear cataract) associated with aging processes that lead to clouding of the eye's natural
(crystalline) lens.

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Could Lead Exposure Cause Cataracts?

CHICAGO, December 2004 — A study that measured the lead levels in 795 men age 60 and older found that those with the most lead in their bodies were 2.7 times more likely to have cataracts than the men with the least amount of lead.

The researchers measured the lead in the participants' shin bones, where lead tends to remain for many years. It is not clear what the link is between lead exposure and cataract development, but the researchers speculated that lead may have something to do with changes in the cells of the eye's lens that lead to clouding of the lens. Lead has also been linked to high blood pressure and dementia in adults, as well as mental retardation and death in children.

The research, conducted by Dr. Debra Schaumberg and associates at Harvard Medical School, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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100 Million People May Go Blind Unnecessarily by 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, September 2003 — Cataracts are the cause of nearly 50 percent of all global blindness, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
But almost 20 million people who need cataract surgery must go without.

The Academy has designated October as World Blindness Awareness Month and says that cataracts and other eye diseases, such as trachoma and onchocerciasis, will cause 100 million people to lose their sight by 2020 if nothing is done. More than 1.5 million people are blind because of vitamin A deficiency, measles, and other problems. And more than 135 million people are going through life without the means to correct their nearsightedness, farsightedness, and other refractive errors.

Despite the fact that we have the scientific knowledge to correct the situation, every five seconds a person goes blind, at an estimated economic cost of $28 billion a year. The Academy says it is addressing the problem of global blindness through its public service foundation, Eyecare America, which uses the volunteer services of member physicians for treatment and education.

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HEALTH ANSWERS

What's best for treating macular degeneration?

October 9, 2006
The short answer is a new drug called Lucentis, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in June . However, the drug has side effects, is extremely expensive, and is useful for only the rarer form of the disease. Macular degeneration and its new treatments were the focus of five separate articles in last week's New England Journal of Medicine.
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There are two kinds of macular degeneration -- a disease of the retina that affects more than 9 million Americans and is a leading cause of blindness in people over 55.

In the ``dry" form, which 90 percent of patients have, there is a loss of the light-sensing cells in the retina and the cells that nourish them. Vision is often disturbed but not destroyed altogether, said Dr.
N.A. Adams of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore .

There is no treatment for this form of the disease, said Pat D'Amore , a senior scientist at the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston.

``Wet" macular degeneration is rarer but far more devastating. Abnormal blood vessels grow into the macula -- the central part of the retina -- where they bleed, leak, and cause swelling, often leading to irreversible blindness.

Three relatively new drugs -- Lucentis, Macugen, and Avastin -- all attack VEGF, the growth factor that stimulates blood vessel growth. All must be injected directly into the eye. Lucentis ``actually improves vision in 30 to 40 percent of patients," said Dr. Emily Chew of the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Md.

Lucentis costs $1,950 per dose, but a very similar drug, Avastin -- which is approved for treating colon cancer and can be used ``off-label" to treat macular degeneration -- costs only $17 to $50 per dose. A head-to-head comparison of the two drugs, both made by Genentech, has just been approved.

Macugen was approved for the wet disease two years ago but appears to be less effective.

Anyone with the wet form of the disease should ask his or her doctor about starting one of these drugs, Adams said. But be cautious: Some of the drugs can have rare but serious side effects, including glaucoma, cataracts, inflammation, and infection. And these risks are incurred repeatedly because patients must have injections every four to six weeks.

SOURCE The Boston Globe

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HEALTHY HABITS

Holding your breath while lifting weights -- a common no-no for exercisers -- could potentially increase the risk of glaucoma.

In a recent study, researchers asked 30 men who were regular exercisers and did not have glaucoma to do bench presses while breathing normally and while holding their breath. Their intraocular eye pressure was then measured during the exercises.

Pressure increased 62 percent while the subjects were breathing normally, researchers found, but increased by up to 90 percent when they held their breath.

Holding air in, says lead researcher Dr. Geraldo Vieira, may lead to a compression of the thoracic veins, which in turn leads to increased pressure in the eye, although breathing during the exercise does raise pressure as well.

Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve, and eye pressure can damage the nerve fibers that make up the optic nerve.

Vieira adds that he often sees people holding their breath while working out. "Usually the trainer tells us not to do that, but sometimes we're not focused on this, so we forget about it and hold the air."

He advises people who regularly strength-train be tested for glaucoma, and those who have the disease check with their physician before exercising.

SOURCE The Detroit News

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Biovitrum Initiates Clinical Phase II Study of Glaucoma Treatment

16 Oct 2006
Biovitrum has initiated a clinical Phase II study with the candidate drug BVT.28949, a 5-HT2A antagonist for the treatment glaucoma. The results are expected to be available midyear of 2007.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden | Oct 16, 2006 | The biopharma company Biovitrum, listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange since September 15, 2006, has initiated a clinical Phase II study with the candidate drug BVT.28949, a 5-HT2A antagonist for the treatment glaucoma. The results are expected to be available midyear of 2007.

The first clinical safety study included 64 healthy volunteers and was entered in September 2005. This study has been compiled and evaluated and convincing positive results support continued clinical trials.

The present Phase II study includes 150 patients with an elevated intraocular pressure (a hallmark of
glaucoma) and the study is estimated to be completed during spring 2007 with results available in the middle of the year. The Phase II study is placebo-controlled (results are compared to patients treated with a preparation without real pharmacological effect), and is carried out at several clinics in both Sweden and Ukraine.

- It is with great satisfaction we see this project develop further in clinical phase. Our commitment to the area of serotonergic mechanisms has once more proven to be successful. We hope that our efforts shall lead to an efficient and safe medicine that improves the situation for many who suffer from glaucoma, says Anders Ullman, Senior Vice President R&D at Biovitrum.

Glaucoma is a disease characterized by damage to the optic nerve and it is in most cases accompanied by an increased pressure within the eye. The disease leads to gradually impaired vision and is the most common cause of blindness in the industrialized world. It is estimated that nearly 70 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma. Current treatments aim to reduce intraocular pressure either by reducing the production or by increasing the outflow of aqueous humor. The total market value for this type of medicines amounts to approximately $3.9 billion.

The current hypothesis is that BVT.28949 reduces intraocular pressure by stimulating the outflow of aqueous humor through a mechanism different from that of presently available products, which means that
BVT.28949 could function as a monotherapy or as a combination alternative with existing products. The glaucoma project builds on considerable knowledge and experience of serotonergic mechanisms and how these are used to create safe and effective pharmaceutical substances.

Biovitrum has presently two projects in clinical Phase II,three projects in Phase I, and another six projects in late preclinical phase within the prioritized areas of metabolic disease, pain and blood and eye disorders.
For more information, please contact:
Biovitrum AB (publ)
Mats Pettersson, CEO
Phone: +46 8 697 2000
mats.pettersson@biovitrum.com

Anders Ullman, Senior Vice President R&D
Phone: +46 8 697 2000
anders.ullman@biovitrum.com

Anna Karin Källén, Vice President, Communications & IR
Phone: +46 8 697 2085
Mobile: +46 73 433 20 85
annakarin.kallen@biovitrum.com
Facts to the editor

Biovitrum
Biovitrum is one of the largest biopharma companies in Europe. With operations in Sweden and in the UK Biovitrum conducts research and develops pharmaceuticals for unmet medical needs both for common diseases and conditions that affect smaller patient populations. Biovitrum has a broad and balanced R&D portfolio with several projects in clinical and preclinical phases for the treatment of obesity, diabetes, inflammation and eye and blood diseases as well as a number of well defined niche indications. Biovitrum develops and produces protein-based drugs on a contractual basis and markets a range of specialist pharmaceuticals primarily in the Nordic countries. Biovitrum has approximately revenues of USD 119 million and 550 employees. Biovitrum is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange since September 15, 2006. For more information see www.biovitrum.com/.

The serotonergic technology platform and BVT.28949 While several effective treatments exist for decreasing intraocular pressure, they do not successfully control glaucoma in a significant number of patients. According to Biovitrum's opinion there is a need for glaucoma treatments acting through novel mechanisms, with the potential to be used as a second-line monotherapy or in combination with current therapies.

BVT.28949 is a selective 5-HT2A antagonist (serotonin receptor 2A antagonist), suitable for topical administration in the form of eye drops.

5-HT2A-receptors control the outflow of aqueous humor from the eye globe. BVT.28949 lowers the intraocular pressure by increasing the outflow of aqueous humor and Biovitrums current hypothesis is that BVT.28949 acts through stimulation of outflow via the trabecular meshwork, unlike prostaglandins (e.g. Xalatan®) which reduce intraocular pressure through another outflow mechanism.

Other projects within Biovitrum that are based on the serotonergic technology platform target other diseases such as obesity. Already today there are several medicines with serotonergic mechanisms of action on the market. As an example, earlier this year Biovitrum acquired the Nordic rights to the drug Aloxi®, a second generation serotonin receptor (5.HT3) antagonist, for treatment of nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.

This information was brought to you by Waymaker:
http://www.waymaker.net

SOURCE: Biovitrum
http://www.pipelinereview.com/joomla/content/view/7298/109/

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Diabetes is the Leading Cause of Blindness in Minnesota; Annual Eye Exams are Critical for Early Detection

November is American Diabetes Month

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With an increase in obesity and decrease in exercise Minnesotans and all Americans are at risk for preventable Type 2 diabetes.
In addition to the risks of cardiovascular disease and strokes, diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness among people aged 20-74 in Minnesota.

Each year, says the Minnesota Department of Health, between 400 and 700 Minnesotans go blind due to diabetes complications. An estimated 60 percent of those having Type 1 diabetes for 10 years will have some signs of retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease, and after 15 years, virtually all Type 1 diabetic patients will have retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy can be detected early and treated through yearly dilated eye exams, according to the Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA). Early treatment of retinopathy reduces the incidence of severe vision loss by 50-60 percent. As November is American Diabetes Month, it is an opportune time to raise awareness about this issue.

The Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) has developed initiatives this year in education about prevention and management of diabetic-related eye diseases. The Save Your Sight Kit, with tips, facts and related articles is available on the MOA web site at www.minnesotaoptometrists.org

At its booth at the Health Fair 11 Building at the Minnesota State Fair this summer, the MOA optometrists found during retinal screenings, that at least 20 people daily showed signs of retinopathy that required follow-up care and a thorough eye exam. Most of these fairgoers were unaware of their condition, because there are often no early warning signs.

“Diabetic eye disease, which includes most commonly, diabetic retinopathy, as well as cataracts and glaucoma,” said Dr. Linda Chous, whose optometric practice is Glasses Menagerie in Minneapolis. Dr.
Chous is an MOA board member and is also diabetic. “My practice includes a number of diabetic children, who must be checked regularly by an eye doctor as part of their medical regime,” she said.

Currently, only eight in 10 Minnesotans with diabetes have a dilated eye exam every two years. “While it is important for all people to have yearly eye exams, it is even more critical for diabetic patients to come in every year,” urges Dr. Chous. “Waiting two years or even worse, not coming in at all, can have a catastrophic effect. People also may not realize that their diabetes can cause changes in vision that require regular exams.”

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell and leak fluid; in others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.

“Many people don’t know that diabetics are twice as likely to suffer from both cataracts and glaucoma,”
said Dr. Chous “Again, both conditions are easily caught and successfully treated through an annual eye exam.”

To help prevent diabetic eye diseases, the American Diabetes Association an the American Optometric Association recommends people suffering from diabetes
should:

* Keep your blood sugar under good control. People who keep their blood sugar levels closer to normal are less likely to have retinopathy.
* Bring high blood pressure down. High blood pressure can make eye problems worse.
* Get a dilated eye exam by a family eye doctor every year. Your optometrist will use drops to enlarge your pupils to look inside your eyes.

The Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) recommends you see your family eye doctor right way if you have any of the following problems:

* Your vision is blurry.
* You see double, spots or floaters
* One or both eyes hurt
* You feel pressure in your eye
* You can't see things at the periphery as well as before
* You have trouble reading

The Minnesota Optometric Association has 525 member doctors of optometry around the state. The MOA is committed to furthering awareness of optometrists as primary eye care or family eye doctors and to bringing about change that positively impacts the MOA member doctors and their patients. For more information on the MOA, visit www.MnEyeDocs.org.
Contacts

For the Minnesota Optometric Association Joan Knight, 612-349-2716 jknight@visi.com

SOURCE Business Wire

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Carl Zeiss Meditec Announces 2,600th GDx Installation in U.S.

More Patients Have Access to Powerful Tool in Fight to Prevent Vision Loss

DUBLIN, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 12, 2006 -- Making a powerful tool in the fight to preserve vision in glaucoma more widely available, Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc., today announced the 2,600th GDx Scanning Laser Polarimeter installation at the private offices of Douglas P. Webb, M.D., in Cleveland, Ohio.

"As a general ophthalmologist for the past 20 years, I have taken care of many patients with glaucoma, and have therefore followed the development of new imaging technologies for the optic nerve and retinal nerve fiber layer very closely," said Dr. Webb. "The GDx system offers a new tool for diagnosing and managing glaucoma, as it provides us with information that can't be obtained from visual inspection of the optic nerve, visual field testing or intraocular pressure measurements, all of which had been the traditional triad of markers for glaucoma."

In order to preserve vision in glaucoma, early detection is imperative and RNFL damage is one of the early manifestations of the disease. The GDx Scanning Laser Polarimeter provides highly detailed measurements of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) for the early detection and management of glaucoma.

"The new system has been a valuable addition to my practice, and from a cost standpoint, it is paying for itself quickly," continued Dr. Webb. "In addition to being technically advanced, it has been very easy for the staff to learn to use and we find the system extremely reliable."

GDx technology compares the patient's RNFL to a large, multi-racial normative database, and also uses neural network techniques to calculate the probability of glaucoma. Study results show that even before visual field loss, the GDx can differentiate between normal eyes and glaucomatous eyes with sensitivity and specificity of 83 percent and 82 percent respectively*. The system also produces highly repeatable results even with different operators, which makes it an essential tool for tracking change over time.

"For a lot of patients with glaucoma, considerable RNFL damage may have already occurred by the time they notice any vision loss," said Jim Taylor, president and chief executive officer for Carl Zeiss Meditec.
"Precise, in-depth assessment of the RNFL as well as ongoing monitoring for change is critical in early diagnosis and vision preservation.

"The GDx not only helps physicians make their diagnostic decisions, but also helps them explain glaucoma to patients, so they are more likely to comply with their treatments," said Taylor.

About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. In the early stages of the disease, there may be no symptoms. In fact, experts estimate that half of the people affected by glaucoma may not know they have it. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease, as there is no cure for glaucoma. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans, and the second leading cause of blindness in the world. If detected early and accurately, physicians will have more time to treat the disease and preserve vision, possibly before vision loss.

About Carl Zeiss Meditec

Built on an unparalleled 160-year heritage of optical innovation, Carl Zeiss Meditec AG (International Securities Identification Number DE000531370) is one of the world's leading eye care solutions providers.
Its product line includes systems for the diagnosis and treatment of the four main diseases of the eye:
vision defects (refraction), cataracts, glaucoma and retinal disorders. The company has incorporated its technological expertise into a stream of product innovations throughout the years, from slit lamps and fundus cameras; to the Humphrey® Field Analyzer, recognized as the global standard for glaucoma detection and management; to its newest applications of lasers as embodied in its leading-edge MEL-80™ refractive laser and innovative Stratus OCT™ device for glaucoma diagnosis. Since 2005, the company has also been present in the market for intraocular lenses and consumables, and now covers almost the entire value chain of ophthalmic surgery. The company is looking to continue its profitable growth in the future. The planned acquisition of Carl Zeiss Surgical is intended to further supplement the eye surgery product portfolio and to open up additional growth prospects in neuro and ENT surgery. Carl Zeiss Surgical is the world's leading provider of visualisation solutions in the two named fields.

Carl Zeiss Meditec AG is based in Jena, Germany, with subsidiaries in Pirmasens, Germany (Carl Zeiss Meditec Systems GmbH), the USA (Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc.), Japan (Carl Zeiss Meditec Co. Ltd.) and France (IOLTECH S.A., Carl Zeiss Meditec SAS). The rapidly aging global population and other trends are expected to grow the ophthalmic market in the long term. The company is focused on applying innovative optical technologies to protect and enhance vision now and into the future.

Thirty-five percent of Carl Zeiss Meditec shares are in free float. The remaining 65 percent are held by Carl Zeiss, one of the world's leading international groups engaged in the optical and opto-electronics industry.

All Trademarks are the property of their respected owners.

*Medeiros FA, Zangwill LM, Weinreb RN et al. Use of Progressive Glaucomatous Optic Disk Change as the Reference Standard for Evaluation of Diabnostic Tests in Glaucoma. American Journal of Ophthalmology 2005; 139:1010-1018.

http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release_html_b1?release_id=172021
SOURCE Carl Zeiss Meditec

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Denial our main blind spot

A FRIENDLY nudge from behind. That's how 34-year-old Claudia Fuentes describes her first stroke.

It was late June 2004, and she was at work managing a Brisbane petrol station. A bump in the back from a colleague caused her to fall over. Or so she thought.

Four weeks later, putting on makeup in readiness for a family night out on the Gold Coast, Ms Fuentes was felled by a crippling headache.

An ambulance was called. There was a visit to a nearby hospital. Diagnosis: migraine. Treatment: pain-killers and rest.

"But I didn't feel well and I couldn't see much at all – just a pinhole – but I put it down to the headache,"
she said.

The pain and loss of vision persisted, and the next day Ms Fuentes' mother insisted she visited a Brisbane doctor who immediately sent her to the Mater Private Hospital.

"I had more visual tests and he (the doctor) tested my blood pressure, which was extremely high," she said.

After several more tests, including an MRI, the then 32-year-old was told she'd had one of two things: a heart attack or a stroke.

"I asked if there was a third option," she said, laughing.

A neurologist confirmed that Ms Fuentes had had two strokes.

Although she experienced some physical weakness as a result, the long-term effect has been loss of sight – she now has just 15 per cent sight in each eye.

Ms Fuentes is just one of more than half a million Australians with low vision – of which only 3 per cent access services that could greatly improve their lives.

More than 80 per cent of vision loss is caused by five
conditions:

  1. Age-related macular degeneration – a degeneration of the central part of the retina. About a quarter of people who live into their 90s will eventually lose vision from this condition.
  2. Cataract – a clouding of the clear lens of the eye.
  3. Diabetic eye disease – when tiny bloody vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye are damaged.
  4. Refractive error – includes myopia (short-sightedness) and hyperopia (long-sightedness) or astigmatism. Refractive errors mean an image is not focused properly on to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye.
  5. Glaucoma – a group of eye diseases that slowly destroy the optic nerve.

Queensland University of Technology School of Optometry associate professor Dr Jan Lovie-Kitchin said vision loss could be overwhelming.

"Because it's an older person's disease – people who are over 60, and particularly over 70, are most commonly affected – and it's a time when they are wanting to slow down a bit and do lots of reading and driving to visit friends and go to movies," she said.

"So losing that detailed vision can be quite distressing."

The misery caused by vision loss permeates every aspect of a person's life, but the most significant for most is the restriction on reading.

Medication labels, books, computers, post, television – even dials on the stove or radio – are all part of a person's life that keeps them in touch with the world.

Vision 2020 Australia is an organisation that raises awareness of the issues surrounding vision loss and the services available to people with it.

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Jennifer Gersbeck said older people who lost their sight as they aged might be in denial about their vision loss.

"They might not relate to the services – for example with the guide dogs and the Royal Blind Foundation, they have 'blind' in the name so people often will think that's not for me, I'm not blind," she said.

"And yet these organisations offer services for people with low vision."

The low-vision services on offer train people to deal with difficulties such as catching public transport.

"There's also denial – I'm not losing my sight, I'm just getting old and I'll be fine," Ms Gersbeck said.

For people like Claudia Fuentes, whose lives are turned upside-down when they are robbed of all or part of their vision, a gentle nudge in the right direction can help their world get back on to its axis.

For more details visit www.vision2020Australia.org.au or phone 1300 102 020 Eye opening facts

* More than 500,000 Australians are blind or vision-impaired – a figure that is expected to reach more than a million in 20 years.
* Only 3 per cent of these people access services that could significantly improve their lifestyles.
* About three-quarters of blindness and vision loss can be prevented or treated.
* About half of Australia's population fear blindness as much as they fear contracting cancer or having a heart attack.
* The direct health costs of treating eye disease were calculated at $1.8 billion in 2004 and the cost to the community in the past decade has doubled.
* Every five seconds, one person in the world goes blind and a child goes blind every minute.

SOURCE: The Courier-Mail - Australia

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Blindness threat increases

Loss of vision is an extremely serious issue among African Americans. The Vision Council of America estimates that more than 2.4 million African Americans face the threat of losing their sight from untreated visual problems. One reason for this is being unable to access preventive vision care service.

Optometrist Edwin C. Marshall of the Vision Council urges African Americans to try to obtain eye exams, because early detection and treatment can prevent or control glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. Those conditions are nearly twice as prevalent among Black as White Americans.

Eye exams also can provide early warnings of diabetes and hypertension, two potentially fatal conditions that occur more often among African Americans.
Marshall also urges African Americans to contact an eye doctor if there is trouble seeing near or far, loss of peripheral vision, double vision and poor night vision or faded colors.

SOURCE Insight News

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Lasik May Be Appropriate Where Normally Contraindicated

New evaluation shows Lasik laser eye surgery may be performed safely for some patients with systemic diseases.

May 26, 2006 -- SACRAMENTO -- A new study published in the April issue of the medical journal Ophthalmology indicates that patients with systemic diseases that are traditionally listed as relative or absolute contraindications may have Lasik safely and with predictable results.

The study evaluated the Lasik outcomes of 141 consecutive patents with autoimmune connective-tissue disorders, psoriasis, intestinal inflammatory diseases, diabetes mellitus, and history of keloid formation. Twenty-nine patients were receiving systemic immunosuppressive therapy. The outcomes of patients with systemic diseases were compared to a control group of 181 similar patients without the conditions.

Mild anatomic complications were observed in the case and control groups with similar percentages, and there were no statistical differences between groups. The only significant functional finding was a worse refractive outcome in the collagen vascular diseases group compared with controls. There were no other statistical differences detected in the other systemic disease groups.

The outcomes indicate that LASIK can be performed effectively and safely in selected patients with stable and controlled systemic diseases. The absolute exclusion of certain systemic contraindications should be reconsidered on a case-by-case basis.

Source: Ophthamology

There's eye care and there's advanced eye care. See the difference advanced eye care can make. Have your questions answered in person by Dr. Kraft. Schedule an Appointment.

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Alcon's Custom Cornea for Lasik Shows Improved Farsighted Results

FDA clinical trail study of the wavefront-guided laser indicates higher probability of a good outcome over conventional Lasik.

Los Angeles, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/01/2006 -- Results of the Alcon FDA Custom Cornea wavefront based LASIK clinical trial for farsighted astigmatism show that wavefront-based LASIK provides better results in terms of uncorrected visual acuity and contrast sensitivity and reduced the induction of higher order aberrations compared to conventional LASIK with the Alcon system.

The study was presented in March at the meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons in San Francisco by James Salz, MD.

“Just as in Alcon wavefront based CustomCornea LASIK for nearsightedness, the results in the farsighted eyes showed superior outcomes,” stated Dr. Salz. “A higher percentage of patients achieved uncorrected vision of 20/20 and 20/40. Visual quality was improved as evidenced by better contrast sensitivity and less increase in higher order aberrations when compared to conventional LASIK.”

LASIK is a popular form of laser eye surgery uses a combination of automated lamellar keratoplasty (ALK) using a microkeratome (FDA approved) to create a “flap” and the excimer laser (FDA approved) to reshape the cornea (“zap”). LASIK is the most commonly performed laser eye procedure worldwide.

Laser eye surgery was first approved by the FDA in
1996 and the procedure has undergone multiple refinements since the original approval including flap creation with a laser instead of a blade and customized wavefront based treatments which improve the chances of obtaining 20/20 vision or better and provide better quality vision with a lower probability of any side effects.

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Three New Hypotheses Reported by Catalyst For a Cure Researchers

In December 2005, the Catalyst For a Cure (CFC) research team reported the development of three new hypotheses for how glaucoma is initiated and where new therapeutic targets can be found.

The first theory is derived from a fascinating event that occurs months or even years before nerve cells die in the retina. During the lifespan of a neuron, it continuously samples the microenvironment of its distal connections. In the case of a Retinal Ganglion Cell (RGC), this means that the cell is sampling the microenvironment of the brain by its longest process called the axon. It appears that the transport machinery or highway that RGCs use to bring neurotrophins — “food” really — back from the brain becomes dysfunctional early in the disease long before the RGC cell dies.

The second hypothesis is based on two primary observations. The CFC has found that there are distinct changes in the structure and functional state of glial cells in the glaucomatous retina. Glial cells get their name as a type of support cell or glue for the neurons, but until recently glial cells have not been adequately studied. The CFC has made an important finding that glial cells react very early in the progression of glaucoma. The most exciting aspect of these data is that changes in glial cells appear to be the earliest event reported in the progression of glaucoma occurring well before neuronal loss or even vision begins to decline.

The final favored hypothesis is based on a family of molecules that have been discovered in the last 10 years and their genes are just being discovered. The molecules are called mechanical receptors and are located throughout the brain and retina and represent a complex family of molecules. Although they have an as yet unknown function in the brain, their presence in the retina has obvious implications for a disorder where pressure is clearly a cofactor. Until this observation, the general concept was that pressure simply compressed the retina making it sick. These observations could provide a more specific mechanism for pressure-induced damage in the retina and, hence, one that could be specifically blocked therapeutically.

SOURCE Glaucoma Research Foundation

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Asthma Drugs May Be Linked to Cataracts

MONTREAL, July 2006 — Older people with asthma who use cortisone-based medications in their inhalers might consider asking their physicians about reducing dosages to avoid cataracts or their progression, say researchers at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.

The Montreal researchers in a large-scale study found that people older than 65 using daily doses of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) to reduce risk of attacks of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) increase their risk of developing cataracts by 24%.

Results of the study of more than 100,000 older Quebec residents were published in the June 2006 issue of European Respiratory Journal.

"We recommend that elderly asthma sufferers keep using these very effective medications, but make efforts to reduce the dose of ICS as much as possible,"
epidemiologist and senior study author Samy Suissa, M.D., said in a news release.

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Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Could Help Prevent Cataract Progression

MADISON, Wis., June 2006 — Cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins could decrease the occurrence of a common type of age-related cataract, according to study results announced in June 2006 by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

Researchers say follow-up studies are needed. But initial results from close examination of 1,299 people who participated in the Beaver Dam Eye Study from 1998 through 2000 uncovered a strong correlation between use of statins and reduced incidence of common nuclear cataracts.

When other risk factors such as smoking and diabetes were eliminated to achieve a balanced comparison between people who used statins and those who did not, statin users were found to have a 60% reduced risk of developing advanced nuclear cataracts.

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Perfect Vision, via Surgery, Is Helping and Hurting Navy

BETHESDA, Md., June 17 — Almost every Thursday during the academic year, a bus carrying a dozen or so Naval Academy midshipmen leaves Annapolis for the 45-minute drive to Bethesda, where Navy doctors perform laser eye surgery on them, one after another, with assembly-line efficiency.

Nearly a third of every 1,000-member Naval Academy class now undergoes the procedure, part of a booming trend among military personnel with poor vision.
Unlike in the civilian world, where eye surgery is still largely done for convenience or vanity, the procedure's popularity in the armed forces is transforming career choices and daily life in subtle but far-reaching ways.

Aging fighter pilots can now remain in the cockpit longer, reducing annual recruiting needs. And recruits whose bad vision once would have disqualified them from the special forces are now eligible, making the competition for these coveted slots even tougher.

But the surgery is also causing the military some unexpected difficulties. By shrinking the pool of people who used to be routinely available for jobs that do not require perfect eyesight, it has made it harder to fill some of those assignments with top-notch personnel, officers say.

When Ensign Michael Shaughnessy had the surgery in his junior year at the Naval Academy, his new 20-20 vision qualified him for flight school. And that is where he decided to go after graduating last month ranked in the top 10 percent of his class, rather than pursuing a career as a submarine officer.

"The cramped environment in submarines is something that turned me off," Ensign Shaughnessy, 22, said.

For generations, Academy graduates with high grades and bad eyes were funneled into the submarine service. But in the five years since the Naval Academy began offering free eye surgery to all midshipmen, it has missed its annual quota for supplying the Navy with submarine officers every year.

Officers involved say the failure to meet the quota is due to many factors, including the perception that submarines no longer play as vital a national security role as they once did. But the availability of eye surgery to any midshipman who wants it is also routinely cited.

"Some of the guys with glasses who would have gone to submarines or become navigators are getting the chance to do something they'd rather do, and the communities that are losing the people are not as happy about it as the aviation community, which is gaining better candidates," said Cmdr. Joseph Pasternak, the ophthalmologist who oversees the program at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

Source: New York Times

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Vision Test Required for Elderly Florida Drivers

FLORIDA, November 2003 — If you're 80 or over and a Florida resident, you will not be able to renew your driver's license unless you pass a vision test at either an eye doctor's office or the Department of Motor Vehicles. The new law, which goes into effect in January 2004, requires 20/40 vision for everybody, either with or without eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Florida's new law looks comparatively lenient considering some of the other states that have special requirements for seniors. In New Hampshire, vision and driving tests are required for those 75 and older. In Utah a vision test is needed if you're 65 and older, while in Oregon it's 50 and in Maine it's 40.

The law will affect a lot of people: more than 650,000 of Florida's drivers are 80 or older, and it is likely that those with advanced cataracts or vision loss from glaucoma or macular degeneration who are still on the road will not pass the vision test.

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