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June 2013 Symposium: The Aging Eye

Photos: Dyanne Cano and Jonathan Furukawa


Scientists at The University of Nottingham Find New Layer in Cornea

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Ophthalmology recently published a study detailing how scientists at The University of Nottingham found a new layer in the human cornea, which had been unknown the researchers. 

The University of Nottingham reported:

The breakthrough, announced in a study published in the academic journal Ophthalmology, could help surgeons to dramatically improve outcomes for patients undergoing corneal grafts and transplants.

The new layer has been dubbed the Dua’s Layer after the academic Professor Harminder Dua who discovered it.

What makes this discovery groundbreaking is that knowledge of a new layer in the cornea will make procedures affecting this area safer. Professor Dua said the following in a statement:

'From a clinical perspective, there are many diseases that affect the back of the cornea, which clinicians across the world are already beginning to relate to the presence, absence or tear in this layer.'

Read the Article: Scientists discover new layer of the human cornea


Our Upcoming Symposium on The Aging Eye

We are very excited to hold our upcoming 8th symposium later this week on the following topic:

The Aging Eye:
Normal Changes, Age-Related Diseases and Sight-Saving Approaches
Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
June 14-16, 2013

Led by co-chairs Dr. Gerald Chader of the Doheny Eye Institute and Dr. Allen Taylor of Tufts University, this symposium promises to be engaging and dynamic, as 15 of the field's top researchers and doctors in eye research will meet for two days to discuss recent findings and breakthroughs in diseases and conditions affecting the aging eye.


  • Dr. Catherine Bowes-Rickman – Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University Medical Center 
  • Dr. David Calkins – Vanderbilt Eye Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Dr. Joseph Caprioli – Jules Stein Eye institute, UCLA
  • Dr. Gerald Chader – Doheny Retina Institute, USC School of Medicine
  • Dr. Emily Chew – Epidemiology & Clinical Applications, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health 
  • Dr. Gislin Dagnelie – Department of Ophthalmology. Johns Hopkins Hospital 
  • Dr. Ilene Gipson – Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, Harvard School of Medicine 
  • Dr. Hans Grossniklaus – Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, Emory University
  • Dr. Barbara Klein – Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison 
  • Dr. Ronald Klein – Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health 
  • Dr. Gerard Lutty – Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 
  • Dr. J. Mark Petrash – Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado, Denver 
  • Dr. David Rein – National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago
  • Dr. Johanna Seddon – Department of Ophthalmology, Tufts University School of Medicine 
  • Dr. Allen Taylor – Nutrition & Vision Research, USDA-HNRCA, Tufts University
  • Tuesday

    Helpful Tips for Improving Overall Eye Health

     The Huffington Post recently featured the everyday habits and tasks that unknowingly put people in danger of developing eye diseases as they age. These areas include smoking, UV exposure, accidents/trauma, chronic diseases and technology.

    Dr. Rachel Bishop of the National Eye Institute is quoted in the article. It also includes a helpful list of preventive measures. 

    Read the Article: Eye Care Tips For Post 50s: 5 Surprising Things That Are Bad For Your Vision


    New Link Between Glucosamine and Glaucoma

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    A new link between the oral supplement, glucosamine, and glaucoma has been found in a new, small study published as aresearch letter in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was done with 17 participants all over the age of 76.

    Specifically, the study found:

    Overall, pressure inside the eye was higher when participants were taking glucosamine, but did return to normal after they stopped taking these supplements, the study showed.

    "This study shows a reversible effect of these changes, which is reassuring," wrote researchers led by Dr. Ryan Murphy at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine. "However, the possibility that permanent damage can result from prolonged use of glucosamine supplementation is not eliminated. Monitoring IOP in patients choosing to supplement with glucosamine may be indicated."

    U.S. News and World Report noted that while this was the first time this link has been made, the study was limited in terms of brand and duration of the supplement. 

    Read the Research Letter: Oral Glucosamine Supplements as a Possible Ocular Hypertensive Agent

    Read the U.S. News and World Report Article: Glucosamine Supplements Tied to Risk of Eye Condition


    The Economic Costs of Age-Related Eye Disease

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    The American Journal of Managed Care published an online supplement by William J. Cardarelli, PharmD and Roderick A. Smith, MS discussing the current economic effects and costs of eye disease as it related to our aging population in the U.S. Areas covered include Open-Angle Glaucoma, Wet AMD, and Dry Eye Disease.

    The authors concluded the following:

    The trend of rising costs associated with visual impairment and the treatment of age-related ocular diseases in the United States is having a tremendous impact on patients’ caregivers, third-party payers, and society. These costs will almost certainly continue to increase in the coming decades as the baby boomer generation reaches old age. While new treatments for eye diseases are benefiting thousands of patients, the costs of these treatments are a major cause of concern.

    Read the Article: Managed Care Implications of Age-Related Ocular Conditions


    A Perspective on the ARVO Vision Science Meeting

    by Dr. Jerry Chader, Professor and Chief Scientific Officer of the Doheny Retina Institute, University of Southern California Medical School, ORSF Medical Director

    The annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology (ARVO) took place in Seattle, WA from May 5-9, 2013. With around 10,000 participants, most presenting talks and posters, it represents the largest congregation of basic scientists and clinicians doing vision research in the world. For me, it is a very exciting (and tiring!) week trying to learn all the latest in how eye tissues function, how eye diseases develop and what new therapies will soon become available to halt or reverse the progression of vision loss.

    The meeting encompasses all tissues of the eye from the front (cornea) to the back (retina). I found the retina sessions were the most important and exciting since retinal diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy account for most of the yet untreated vision loss and blindness in Americans. Although much basic research was reported, it is heartening to see that, over the last few years, there is increasing emphasis on reports on translational work from the laboratory bench to the clinic, leading to human clinical trials. Thus, new drugs, new surgical techniques, new prosthetic devices and new methods of drug delivery were in the forefront of the scientific presentations. Also, new techniques of stem cell and transplantation biology were presented that could restore vision in the future to many with severe retinal or corneal disease. Following are just a few examples of groundbreaking work reported at the ARVO meeting:

    • One highlight was an update on a retinal prosthetic device that successfully restores some functional vision to those functionally blind with advanced retinal degenerative disease such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP). In RP, the photoreceptor cells of the retina are lost and the prosthetic device replaces the function of these cells to capture an external image and ultimately transmit it to the brain to form a visual image. The device has recently been approved for implantation in the USA with hopes that it can soon be used in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).     

    • Another significant advance was reported in the use of stem cells to replace degenerated retinal cells such as ganglion cells (in glaucoma) or photoreceptor cells (in RP or AMD). Stem cells have the potential to be transformed (“differentiate”) into any cell of the body and could restore vision even in advanced cases of retinal disease if given the proper conditions for development.

    • Another amazing leap forward has been made in the research area called Optogenetics. Many lower life forms such as algae contain light-sensing proteins that, through sophisticated techniques of molecular biology,  can be replicated and inserted (“transfected”) into mammalian retinal cells. In exciting preclinical experiments, it has been demonstrated that, through Optogenetics, some functional vision can be restored in animal models of severe retinal degeneration. Hopefully, human trials are not too far in the future!

    • Epidemiological studies can give us an insight into how to diminish our chances of getting eye disease. A new study, for example, links caffeinated coffee to a specific type of vision loss. In the Swedish population, greater intake of caffeinated coffee had previously been found to increase the risk of primary, open-angle glaucoma and, now, has been found to increase the risk of another type of glaucoma - exfoliation glaucoma. New studies reported in Investigative Ophthalmology & Vision Research, the scientific journal of ARVO, also link smoking to an increased risk of developing cataract. This is much like is known with the link of smoking to an increased risk of developing AMD. More work is needed here though to verify and expand these studies.

    This ARVO meeting was also exciting in that the National Eye Institute continued its challenge to the vision research community to identify “Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation." This call generated great interest with many researchers identifying important goals for future research such as

    1) finding a way to turn back the aging process in the eye (the subject of our next ORSF symposium!)

    2) increased study on Regenerative Medicine (stem cells) and Optobiobics to restore vision and

    3) the use of Neuroregeneration to restore functional vision through axon regeneration in patients with conditions such as traumatic optic neuropathy or glaucoma.

    These and many others will be the “audacious goals” for the 2014 ARVO meeting next year in Orlando, FL. Hopefully this will all ultimately lead to preventions, treatments and cures for all ocular diseases.