Retinal Implant

The FDA has approved an artificial implant, called Argus 11, to restore some sight to people with retinitis pigmentosa. A special pair of glasses is outfitted with a video camera and a video processing unit that sends signals to a wireless receiver implanted in the eye. “To restore vision, signals from the camera are sent to the retina, where they travel to the optic nerve in the brain.

A Protein May Predict AMD Risk

The hsCRP Protein can predict future risk of AMD, according to a recent study reported in JAMA Ophthalmology. High levels of hsCRP, a protein made in the liver and fat cells, occur during times of tissue damage, infection and inflammation. In the study, patients were initially free of AMD. Results showed a significantly increased risk of incident AMD for high vs low hsCRP levels. The risk of neovascular AMD also increased among those with high hsCRP levels.



More News on Aspirin and AMD

Although an Australian study suggests that aspirin raises the risk of developing wet macular degeneration, its limitations must be recognized. First of all the risk is very low. Secondly, the researchers did not have full information on why these people took aspirin. Risks and benefits must be evaluated. Dr. Robert Cykiert, M.D.

Report on Effect of Regular Aspirin Use and AMD

The December 19th issue of JAMA reports on the long-term use of aspirin and its effect on the development of macular degeneration. It concludes that “use 5 years prior to observed incidence was not associated with…early or late AMD. However, regular aspirin use 10 years prior was associated with a small but statistically significant increase in the risk of incident late and neovascular AMD.”

Because aspirin is prescribed for cardioprotective effect, the source of the problem must be more thoroughly investigated and studied.


Common Herb May Promote Eye Health

AMD might be slowed or improved by chemicals that fight free radical damage. A study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science reports that carnosic acid, a component of the herb rosemary, protects retinal photreceptors. “Rodents pretreated with carnosic acid retained a thicker outer nuclear layer in the eye, indicating that their photoreceptors were protected.” Tests showed healthier photoreceptor function.



Digital Tablets Improve Ability to Read

A presentation at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting highlights a study showing that people with moderate vision loss could increase their reading speed by 15 words per minute by using a digital tablet with a back lit screen.  This improves contrast sensitivity.  “Patients with the poorest vision- defined as 20/40 or worse in both eyes- showed the most improvement in speed when using an iPad or Kindle, compared with print.”  The study was conducted at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.


Dry AMD Stem Cell Clinical Trial

The first patient in a clinical trial for dry age-related macular degeneration has been enrolled and transplanted with purified human neural stem cells. The HucCNS-SC cells protect host photoreceptors and preserve vision. The phase 1/11 trial will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of these cells as a treatment for dry AMD. 16 patients will be evaluated for a total of five years.



Implanted Telescope Improves Patient's Vision

UC Davis Medical Center surgeons implanted a telescope in the eye of a patient with end-stage AMD. The device was FDA approved in 2010. The recipient is the first of 50 individuals scheduled to receive the implant. Results were encouraging. The patient said “I can see better than ever now. Colors are more vibrant, beautiful and natural, and I can read large print with my glasses. I haven’t been able to read for the past seven years.” The implant is smaller than a pea.


FDA Approves Eylea- Alternative To Lucentis With Less Injections

The FDA approved injection Eylea (afilbercept), formerly called VEGF Trap-Eye, has been shown to be as effective as Lucentis for treatment of AMD, according to a 96-week study of 2,412 patients, conducted by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. After a 3 month period of once a month dosing, Eylea can be given every 8 weeks, resulting in half as many injections as Lucentis. Sales have climbed considerably.


Clues Point To Possible Future Treatment For Geographic Atrophy

Dr. Ambati of the University of Kentucky has advanced his research on the DICER1 enzyme. When this produces Alu RNA molecules IL-18 and a critical protein known as MyD88, retinal cell death follows. They show that blocking these components could result in a new potential therapy for geographic atrophy (GA), a currently untreatable form of “dry” age-related macular degeneration. “This work further… identifies a new therapeutic target for the dry form of AMD.”



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