Friday, December 25, 2009

Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging

from Health Day. News for Healthier Living.

In study, athletes had 'younger' immune cells than sedentary, healthy adults
By Jennifer Thomas
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Studies have shown that exercise can help ward off heart disease and cancer, and now new research shows that the reason why may be found within cells themselves.
Endurance athletes had longer telomeres -- DNA at the tips of chromosomes that protect the cell -- in their white blood cells than healthy, nonsmoking adults who did not exercise regularly, German researchers report.
Telomeres can be thought of as the plastic tips on the end of shoelaces, which prevent the lace from fraying, explained Emmanuel Skordalakes, an assistant professor of gene expression and regulation at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia.
Over the life span, cells continue to divide. Each time a cell divides, the telomere is shortened. When the telomere gets too short, the cell stops dividing. When this happens, people age -- gradually losing muscle strength, skin elasticity, vision, hearing and mental abilities, and so on, Skordalakes said.
In the study, the researchers measured the length of white blood cell telomeres of endurance athletes and compared them to the telomeres of age-matched healthy nonsmokers who typically exercised less than one hour a week (the control group). Athletic participants included professional runners with an average age of 20 who ran more than 45 miles a week as part of the German National track and field team. A second group of athletes were middle-aged (average age 51) who had done endurance exercise since youth and ran an average of nearly 50 miles a week.
Not surprisingly, the athletes had a slower resting heart rate -- a sign of cardiovascular fitness -- as well as lower blood pressure, lower body mass index and lower cholesterol than those in the control group.
But the athletes also had longer telomeres than those who were of similar age but did not exercise, and the athletes showed increased activity of the enzyme telomerase, which maintains the telomere.
"This is direct evidence of an anti-aging effect of physical exercise," study author Dr. Ulrich Laufs, a professor of clinical and experimental medicine in the department of internal medicine at Saarland University in Homburg, said in a statement.
The study findings were released online Nov. 30 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of Circulation.
Until recently, the primary role of white blood cells was thought to be fighting off infections, said Dr. Annabelle Volgman, a cardiologist and director of the Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Newer research has shown white blood cells do much more, including continuously seeking out abnormal cell growths, such as those that cause cancer, and clearing them away.
One reason why cancer rates increase with age could be that the white blood cells themselves age, and become less efficient at dealing with the abnormal growths, Volgman said. If exercise maintains the youthfulness of the white blood cells by preventing the shortening of the telomere, it may explain why exercise can protect against developing cancer.
Likewise, with heart disease, aging white blood cells (along with high blood pressure and other factors) may allow plaques to accumulate more quickly. By keeping white blood cells young, exercise may enable them to continue to efficiently clear away plaques, Volgman said.
"We know that any physical activity improves cardiovascular health and helps in preventing cancer," Volgman said. "This study is showing us the molecular basis for this."
The question, of course, is how much exercise is needed to prevent telomere shortening. Must one be a marathon runner? Or is the standard advice of walking for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week enough?
Because no one really knows the answer, Volgman said, the best advice is to do some sort of exercise regularly. Previous research has shown even moderate activity can be beneficial to the telomeres.
Exercise intensity should be guided by fitness level -- in other words, if you're used to doing vigorous exercise, keep it up. If not, do what you can without overdoing it or risking other injury.
"Not everyone has the makeup to be an elite athlete," Volgman said. "The safest thing to say is that people do need that aerobic exercise. But there are so many factors that impact aging and if you are going to get cancer or heart disease."
In addition to testing human white blood cells, researchers also used mice to study the impact of exercise on proteins that have been implicated in heart disease and cancer. The researchers found that the mice with access to a running wheel for three weeks showed increased activity of tumor-suppressing proteins and proteins that play a role in telomere length.
"What these people have shown through this study is that through activity and a healthy lifestyle, you can upregulate the levels of activity of factors that protect or play a role in maintaining the telomeres of humans and mice," Skordalakes said.
More information
The American Academy of Family Physicians has tips for starting an exercise program.

SOURCES: Emmanuel Skordalakes, Ph.D., assistant professor, gene expression and regulation, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia; Annabelle Volgman, M.D., cardiologist and director, Heart Center for Women, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; Nov. 30, 2009, Circulation, online
Last Updated: Nov. 30, 2009
Copyright © 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Multiple sclerosis 'blood blockage theory' tested

By Michelle Roberts
Health reporter, BBC News

US scientists are testing a radical new theory that multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by blockages in the veins that drain the brain.
The University of Buffalo team were intrigued by the work of Italian researcher Dr Paolo Zamboni who claims 90% of MS is caused by narrowed veins.
He says the restricted drainage, visible on scans, injures the brain leading to MS.
He has already widened the blockages in a handful of patients.
The US team want to replicate his earlier work before treating patients.
Experts welcomed the research saying it was important to confirm the basic science before evaluating any therapy.
MS is a long-term inflammatory condition of the central nervous system which affects the transfer of messages from the nervous system to the rest of the body.
The Buffalo team, led by Dr Robert Zivadinov, plan to recruit 1,100 patients with MS and 600 other volunteers as controls who are either healthy or have neurological diseases other than MS.
Using Doppler ultrasound, they will scan the patients to see if they can find any blockages within the veins of the neck and brain.
If they can prove Dr Zamboni's theory of "chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency", they say it will change our understanding of MS.

Rewriting science
Margaret Paroski, who is chief medical officer at Kaleida Health, where the Buffalo researchers are based, said the work could overturn prevailing wisdom that the damage in MS is predominantly the result of abnormal immune responses.
"When I was in medical school, we thought peptic ulcer disease was due to stress. We now know that 80% of cases are due to a bacterial infection.
"Dr Zivadinov's work may lead to a whole different way of thinking about MS."
Dr Zamboni, of the University of Ferrara, believes the blockages are the cause rather than the consequence of MS and that they allow iron from the blood to leak into the brain tissue, where it causes damage.
He has performed procedures similar to angioplasty to unblock the veins and get the blood flowing normally again.
He claims this "liberation procedure" can alleviate many of the symptoms of MS and is due to publish his findings in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.
In an interview with CTV News in Canada he said: "I found the evidence of narrowing - narrowing of the veins just in MS patients.
"I'm fully convinced that this is very, very important for people."

Early days
Kevin Lipp, an MS patient from the US, has been symptom-free since being treated by Dr Zamboni.
He said: "It's only been 10 months. If nothing happens in the next two to three years, we'll know it's working."
The BBC has heard anecdotally of other surgeons in Europe testing out the same treatment.
The MS Society said more research was needed to see if this was an avenue that should be explored further.
"This is not something patients can expect as a treatment now. This is experimental work and is being tested. We need to know more about its safety and effectiveness."
Helen Yates, of the MS Resource Centre, said: "There is no doubt that this area warrants a great deal more study.
"This could represent a completely novel approach to MS research which, if proven to be relevant, could be a "sea change" in the understanding of the mechanisms involved in the condition."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cigarettes May Contain Bacteria

Study Shows Cigarettes May Be Contaminated With Hundreds of Types of Bacteria
By Kelli Miller Stacy
WebMD Health NewsReviewed by Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC

Nov. 24, 2009 -- Cigarettes are massive germ factories that may expose users and passersby to a swarm of disease-causing bacteria, a study shows.

It's well known that cigarette smoke harbors hundreds of toxic chemicals that are bad for your health. But a University of Maryland environmental health researcher says that's not the only danger. DNA examination of four cigarette brands shows, for the first time, that cigarettes are "widely contaminated" with hundreds of different types of bacteria. In fact, there appears to be as many bacteria in cigarettes as there are chemicals.

"The commercially available cigarettes that we tested were chock full of bacteria, as we had hypothesized, but we didn't think we'd find so many that are infectious in humans," says researcher Amy R. Sapkota, an assistant professor in the University of Maryland's School of Public Health.

Sapkota and microbial ecologists at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon in France examined the bacteria content in four major cigarette brands: Camel, Kool Filter Kings, Lucky Strike Original Red, and Marlboro Red and found similar types of bacteria in each one.

Previous research has watched for bacterial growth in lab dishes containing small tobacco samples, but this study is the first to scrutinize a cigarette's bacterial genetic makeup.

The testing revealed that cigarettes contain a wide variety of bacteria that are linked to lung, blood, and food-borne-related infections. Among those present were:

Acinetobacter -- associated with certain blood and lung infections
Bacillus -- some types are associated with anthrax and food poisoning
Burkholderia -- some strains can cause respiratory infections
Clostridium -- linked to food poisoning-related illnesses and lung infections
Klebsiella -- associated with many kinds of lung, blood, and other infections
Pseudomonas aeruginosa -- a specific type of bacteria that is responsible for 10% of hospital-acquired infections
"If these organisms can survive the smoking process -- and we believe they can -- then they could possibly go on to contribute to both infectious and chronic illnesses in both smokers and individuals who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke," Sapkota says.

Although the public health implications of these findings are unclear at present, scientists plan to continue their research to determine if the bacteria can be implicated in tobacco-related diseases. A big question is whether or not cigarette-borne bacteria can survive the burning process and enter the lungs of smokers and grow. Some evidence suggests that some bacteria can spread this way. The bacteria may also be present on, or in, the filter.

The study findings appear online ahead of print in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hygiene obsession may impair skin's ability to stay healthy.

From the UK's Telegraph:

Children should be allowed to play in the dirt because being too clean can impair the skin’s ability to heal itself, new research suggests.

By Murray Wardrop

Published: 8:00AM GMT 23 Nov 2009

Scientists have discovered that bacteria on the surface of the skin play an important role in combating inflammation when we get hurt.
The bugs dampen down overactive immune responses, which can lead to rashes or cause cuts and bruises to become swollen and painful.
The findings support previous research which suggests that exposure to germs during early childhood can prime the immune system to prevent allergies.
The so-called “hygiene hypothesis” has previously been used to explain why increasing numbers of children suffer allergies such as eczema and hay fever in more developed countries.
Parenting groups yesterday welcomed the findings as “a vindication of common sense” and urged parents to allow their children greater freedom to play outdoors.
Experts at the University of California at San Diego made the discovery by studying mice and human cells cultured in their laboratory.
The team, led by dermatologist Professor Richard Gallo, found that common bacteria called staphylococci, can reduce inflammation after injury, when they are present on the skin's surface.
Prof Gallo said: “These germs are actually good for us.”
He said that his team identified for the first time ever a previously unknown mechanism by which a product of staphylococci prevents inflammation.
The effect occurs because of a molecule called staphylococcal lipoteichoic acid that acts on keratinocytes, the primary cell type found in the epidermis – or outer skin layer.
Prof Gallo, whose findings are published in Nature Medicine, added: "The exciting implication of the work is that it provides a molecular basis to understand the hygiene hypothesis and has uncovered elements of the wound repair response that were previously unknown.
"This may help us devise new therapeutic approaches for inflammatory skin diseases."
Parents Outloud, the pressure group, said the research provides scientific support for its campaign to prevent children being mollycoddled by health and safety regulations.
Its spokeswoman, Margaret Morrissey, said: “Parents have become so paranoid about their children playing outside and getting dirty that today’s youngsters are not enjoying a proper childhood.
“You cannot blame parents for this because they are constantly bombarded with advertising telling them they have to buy antibacterial products to keep their children clean and healthy.
“However, hopefully research like this will help parents realise that it’s natural and healthy for children to get outdoors and get mucky and that it doesn’t do their health any harm.”
Sue Palmer, children’s campaigner and author of the book Toxic Childhood, added: “Clearly parents need to make sure their children are hygienic, but wrapping them up in cotton wool and not allowing them exposure to germs is just as damaging.”
Up to four in 10 people in Britain suffer from allergies, research by the charity Allergy UK has found.
The number of children with food allergies has tripled in the past decade, with millions being diagnosed with severe immune system disorders, some of them potentially life-threatening.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Advanced Cell Technology seeks to test embryonic stem cells to treat blindness.

From the Los Angeles Times:
November 19, 2009 10:00 am

Stem cells could be used to remedy
formerly incurable eye defects which
cause blindness.

Patients with a rare eye disease could be the first to be treated with human embryonic stem cells.
Advanced Cell Technology Inc., a Santa Monica-based biotech company with labs in Massachusetts, announced today that it has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval to test retinal cells grown from stem cells in 12 people with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy.
The disease is a childhood version of macular degeneration and affects about one in 10,000 kids. Patients typically begin to lose their central vision between the ages of 6 and 20. As SMD progresses, things may look blurry and distorted, and patients may have trouble adjusting to low light. About half of victims are legally blind by age 50. There is no cure.
Most cases occur when children inherent a faulty version of the ABCA4 gene or the CNGB3 gene from both parents. As a result, the photoreceptor cells in the retina don’t get enough fuel, and they atrophy.
ACT hopes to reverse this by supplying patients with new retinal pigment epithelium cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. The RPE cells have been shown to improve vision in animals, with one study restoring eye function in sick rats and mice to “near-normal” levels. Another study boosted rats’ vision to 70% that of healthy animals. No adverse side effects were found in any of the company’s pre-clinical studies, Dr. Robert Lanza, ACT’s chief scientific officer, said in an interview.
ACT proposes a Phase I/II trial designed to assess the safety and tolerability of its RPE cells. The company and its collaborators would like to recruit a dozen patients with advanced SMD at three sites: the Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Ore.; the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester; and the UMDNJ – New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
Amid much fanfare, Geron Corp. received FDA approval in January to use specialized nerve cells made out of human embryonic stem cells to treat a handful of patients paralyzed by spinal cord injuries. Those plans are on hold while the company conducts pre-clinical studies to address some safety concerns about its cells, known as GRNOPC1. Last month, Geron said it expected to initiate its clinical trial in the third quarter of 2010.
Since their creation in 1998, human embryonic stem cells have been a highly controversial area of medical research. The cells are derived from days-old human embryos, which gives them the ability to grow into any type of cell in the body. Some scientists – like those at ACT and Geron – envision using them to grow replacement tissues to treat sick patients. But many people are troubled by the fact that the stem cells are typically made by dismantling and destroying human embryos.
ACT has tried to sidestep the ethical debate by using a different method to create its stem cell lines. Instead of using an entire embryo, the company figured out a way to remove only a single blastomere cell from a three-day-old embryo and turn it into a cell line. Such single-cell biopsies are routinely performed in fertility clinics to screen embryos for devastating genetic diseases, and the procedure leaves the embryo intact. The RPE cells that would be used in the clinical trial were grown from one of the company’s single-blastomere cell lines, Lanza said.
The company is also making and testing RPE cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. So-called iPS cells behave like embryonic stem cells but are made by reprogramming mature cells taken from children or adults, not from embryos. However, the reprogramming process currently involves viruses and genetic manipulation techniques that make the cells unsuitable for human therapies.
Lanza said ACT decided to target Stargardt’s macular dystrophy first because it has been designated an “orphan disease” and could benefit from a faster regulatory review. The FDA has 30 days to respond to the company’s filing, made Wednesday, and the clinical trial could begin early next year.
If all goes well, the company plans to seek permission to use its RPE cells to treat age-related macular degeneration, Lanza said. That disorder is much more common, and it destroys the central vision of an estimated 1.75 million Americans.
-- Karen Kaplan
Photo: Scientists from Advanced Cell Technology remove a single cell from a days-old embryo, which was used to create a line of human embryonic stem cells. Stem cells made this way were grown into eye cells that the company hopes will treat patients with Stargardt's macular dystrophy. Credit: Associated Press photo/Advanced Cell Technology

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fructose May Raise Blood Pressure

Drinking more than two sweetened sodas a day boosts risk of hypertension, study finds

FRIDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Here's a new reason to put down that sugary soft drink: Research suggests that a diet high in fructose, a common sweetener, boosts the risk of high blood pressure.
High-fructose corn syrup is found in many processed foods and beverages. Americans consume 30 percent more fructose now than 20 years ago, and researchers have linked higher fructose consumption to the growing obesity epidemic. But scientists weren't sure if a connection existed between fructose consumption and high blood pressure.
In a new study, Dr. Diana Jalal, of the University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center, and colleagues studied 4,528 adults without a history of high blood pressure. They examined their fructose intake and found that those who consumed more than 74 grams of fructose per day -- that's the equivalent of the amount in 2.5 sweetened soft drinks -- boosted their risk of high blood pressure by 28 percent to 87 percent, depending on the level of hypertension.
"These results indicate that high fructose intake in the form of added sugars is significantly and independently associated with higher blood pressure levels in the U.S. adult population with no previous history of hypertension," the study authors wrote, adding that future research is needed to determine if lowering fructose intake will also lower blood pressure.
The study findings were scheduled to be presented at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting, held Oct. 27 to Nov. 1 in San Diego.

More information
Learn about high blood pressure from the American Heart Association.
-- Randy Dotinga
SOURCE: American Society of Nephrology, news release, Oct. 29, 2009
Last Updated: Oct. 30, 2009
Copyright © 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Significant arterial damage may occur after first cigarette, research suggests.

Smoking's Damage Swift, Irreversible
Just 1 Cigarette Can Stiffen Arteries in Young Smokers, Study Shows
By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 27, 2009 -- Cigarette smoking starts inflicting “very significant” damage on the arteries with the very first puffs taken by otherwise healthy young smokers, new research shows.
The damage worsens as time passes and is impossible to reverse, says researcher Stella Daskalopoulou, MD, of the McGill University Health Centre.
The study found that smoking just one cigarette increases the stiffness of the arteries in 18- to 30-year-old smokers by 25% after a treadmill exercise test. It was presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2009 in Edmonton, Alberta.
As arteries stiffen, she says, the heart must work harder, increasing the risk for heart disease or stroke.
“Our results are significant because they suggest that smoking just a few cigarettes a day impacts the health of the arteries,” Daskalopoulou says in a news release. “This was revealed very clearly when these young people were placed under physical stress, such as exercise.”
She tells WebMD that the study compared the arterial stiffness of 10 young smokers, who puffed five to six cigarettes a day, to 10 nonsmokers. The median age of the participants was 21 years. Researchers, who included R.J. Doonan and other medical students under her supervision, measured arterial stiffness at rest and after exercise.
Arterial stiffness in all participants was measured using a method called applanation tonometry.
An initial arterial stiffness measurement was performed at rest for each subject to establish a baseline measure for all the participants. Smokers were instructed not to smoke for 12 hours prior to the test.
After the first meeting, the smokers completed two more tests on different days. For one test, they smoked a single cigarette and then repeated a treadmill exercise test. For the other test, smokers were asked to chew a piece of nicotine gum prior to the exercise test. Daskalopoulou found that after exercise:
• Arterial stiffness levels in nonsmokers dropped by 3.6%.
• Arterial stiffness in smokers increased by 2.2%.
• After one cigarette, it increased by 24.5% in the smokers.
• After nicotine gum, stiffness increased by 12.6% in the smokers.
What the study means, she tells WebMD, is that even light smoking in otherwise healthy people damages the arteries, compromising the ability to cope with physical stress, such as climbing stairs.
“The people tested were young and healthy,” she tells WebMD. “We found there was no significant difference at rest between smokers and nonsmokers, but then we got them to exercise, and the difference was clear.”
Cherry Wongtrakool, a pulmonary specialist at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, tells WebMD there’s no doubt that even one or two cigarettes impairs blood vessel function.
The question is, “how much of that change is going to be persistent,” which she says isn’t answered by the study.
“We know if you have any smoking in your personal history, that puts you at risk for a number of diseases, even if you are a former smoker,” Wongtrakool says.
Daskaloupoulou is working on another study now examining whether former smokers who recently stopped can recover some lung function, and if so, how long it takes.
“This study is very exciting,” Daskalopoulou tells WebMD. “The earlier you stop, my belief is, the faster some recovery will be, but I don’t believe the [arterial] system ever goes back to normal. If you stop early, the damage will be much smaller, but there will still be damage.”
She also says that young people who believe that a little smoking doesn’t hurt are wrong.
Beth Abramson, MD, spokeswoman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and director of the Cardiac Prevention Center at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, tells WebMD the study is stunning in that it shows clearly that “harmful effects of smoking show up immediately. This is more evidence to prove that smoking is horrendous to one’s health.”
Any smoking is bad, she says, because “it does the opposite of what nitroglycerin does, which is helps increase blood flow to the heart.”
She says even people who’ve smoked for decades can benefit from quitting, though “it’s going to take longer to take your risk down.”

Friday, October 30, 2009

Overnight contacts may help slow eyesight deterioration in children.

Our office is pleased to offer CRT (Corneal Refractive Therapy) lenses as mentioned in the followoing article from the UK's Daily Mail. (10/20 Hodgekiss). After fitting the lenses myself for the last 5 years, it has been my experience that there is very little increase in a child's prescription. It is most encouraging to be able to fit children with a contact lens that will halt or slow the progression of myopia!

Contact lenses worn at night could slow down or even halt sight deterioration in children.
The vast majority of children with sight problems are short-sighted — they have difficulty seeing things far away. This is caused by a misshapen eyeball.
The new contact lenses work in a similar way to a dental brace, gently pressing on the eye to restore it to the shape of someone with normal vision.
New research has found that after a year of use, children had far less sight deterioration than those who’d worn regular contact lenses.
In normal sight, the light rays pass into the eye through the cornea. They then hit the retina at the back of the eye where they are transformed into image-forming signals, which are then sent to the brain.
With short-sight, the cornea is either too curved or the eyeball too long. This means the light rays from distant objects focus in front of the retina, rather than directly on it, making the objects appear fuzzy.
The overnight lenses, which have been available for several years to help adults, work by gently pressing on the cornea, reducing its curvature and thereby refocusing the light directly on to the retina. It also, in effect, shortens the eyeball.
The reshaping in adults is temporary because the cornea will gradually spring back to its original shape, so the lenses must be worn every night. (The lenses themselves are slightly harder than the softer lenses people commonly use for daytime wear.)
However, a few years ago scientists noticed that children who wore this type of contact lens had a slower deterioration of their eyesight, — the reshaping seemed to be more permanent.
On this observation, a controlled clinical trial of the lenses was set up in the U.S. two years ago. Around 300 children aged eight to 14 are taking part in the five-year study, known as SMART.
Half of the subjects have been given the overnight lenses, while the others are using normal contact lenses every day. At the end of the first year, both groups stopped wearing their lenses for one month to see if their prescription had changed.
Sight loss is measured in diopters. In children who are short-sighted it is estimated that sight deteriorates by 0.25 to 1.2 diopters a year (as a guide, most adults have a prescription that is no worse than minus 5).
The results showed that, after the first year, the children in the overnight lens group had no prescription change; in the control group the average increase was 0.4 diopters.
Because shortsightedness is usually picked up by the early teenage years, it is hoped overnight lenses could at least prevent further sight deterioration.
The reason why children seem to benefit more than adults is because their eyes are still growing — this makes it easier to change their shape, just as it’s easier to fix misaligned teeth in children rather than adults.
Michael Ward, a 13-year- old from Watford, has been wearing the overnight lenses for two years.
Before then, the keen sportsman had to either wear his glasses when playing sport or not wear them at all.
‘It’s made a huge difference because I can see everything now,’ he says. The rate of his sight deterioration has also slowed. ‘I went river rafting one weekend and didn’t wear them for two nights — my sight only started to get worse on the third day.’
Parwez Hossain, a consultant in ophthalmology at Southampton General Hospital and member of the scientific committee of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, says these lenses could potentially be a cure for short-sightedness, although ‘we won’t know this for another few years’.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Are you having trouble reading this? Maybe you have CVS.

From the San Francisco Chronicle. Doc Gurley:

How about if you are (or were) reading it on an iPhone or Blackberry? There is no doubt that intensive staring at computer screens, let alone tiny screens like those on the iPhone or Blacberry, is not exactly good for your eyes. But what to do about it? I got a very interesting email from a reader who is pretty serious about this topic. And the advice is very good, so I am going ahead and passing it on to you.
iPhones, Blackberries and other small screen gadgets like the Kindle may be giving you Computer Vision Syndrome (or CVS)! Anyone who spends two or more uninterrupted hours per day in front of a computer screen – regardless of size – is prone to CVS. And with the hours most of us log on these gadgets tapping out emails and surfing the web, 175 million Americans are reportedly feeling the pain!
The American Optometric Association defines CVS as “the complex of eye and vision problems related to near work, which are experienced during or related to computer use.” In simple terms, the human vision system was not designed for long hours of computer viewing. Unlike typical print, PDA screens are made up of electronically generated characters called pixels - tiny dots of light that are hard for our eyes to focus on because it causes the brightness in the font to vary. As a result, more and more Americans are suffering from CVS symptoms that range from neck aches and headaches, to dry, irritated eyes, and blurred or double vision.
“While these small and highly productive devices may make us more efficient work-wise, they are causing unprecedented levels of CVS symptoms in patients of all ages — we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of patients we see monthly for CVS,” said Dr. Harvey Moscot, a renowned Optometrist in New York City and a CVS specialist who is presently conducting a CVS study to evaluate the effectiveness of specialized lenses for the reduction of CVS symptoms.
So can you live without your PDA? Probably not! But there is hope — Dr. Moscot prescribes a few simple measures to help those of you who are tethered to your iPhones and Blackberries see a little easier:
·If the PDA screen makes you squint, don’t bring it closer to your eyes. Sharpen the image with antiglare films or increase the font. Reducing glare or increasing font can make the overall reading experience much easier on your eyes.
·The Omega 3’s in flaxseed and fish oil supplements are excellent for achieving long-term lubrication for your eyes. Add them to your must-take supplement list. Dr. Moscot recommends a pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplement and at least 1,000mgs every day, it’s specially formulated to relieve dry eye symptoms.
·Get a CVS-specific eye examination that enables doctors to accurately diagnose CVS by duplicating the pixels of a computer screen, allowing doctors to determine a more accurate prescription based on exam results and the way you use your PDA each day. After the test, doctors are able to prescribe eyewear with special computer lenses that eliminate the need for you to constantly refocus your eyes, which reduces eyestrain. After all, when you go running you bring your running shoes. When you sit in front of the computer you should have your computer glasses.
·Follow the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes take a break and with each eye look at something about 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds.
·Lighting is key! If you have a choice in the matter, make sure outside windows are neither directly behind nor ahead of you. Ambient overhead light is best.
·Remember to blink. People blink 5 times less while looking at the computer, blinking helps rewet the eyes and prevent dryness and irritation.
·Clean your screen. While this may sound obvious, cutting out the veiling glare caused by fingerprints, smearing, dust and other particles obstruct your view will help alleviate symptoms.

Posted By: Doc Gurley (Email) October 19 2009 at 11:17

Friday, October 16, 2009

H1N1 Flu help

Hi everyone,

With flu season about to begin, I thought I would just provide a great Canadian link to help ensure that everyone gets the facts regarding the H1N1 virus. The best ways, of course to help prevent the spread of this nasty flu is to cough into your arm, wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizers and stay home if you are sick.

Visit for more information.


Dr. Toby Mandelman, Optometrist

Friday, October 9, 2009

Research indicates most babies born this century in rich countries may live to 100.

The AP (10/2, Cheng) reports, "Most babies born in rich countries this century will eventually make it to their 100th birthday," according to research published in The Lancet. Researchers say "that since the 20th century, people in developed countries are living about three decades longer than in the past," and that "trend shows little sign of slowing down." For the study, researchers "examined studies published globally in 2004-2005 on numerous issues related to aging."
The study showed that "without any further improvement in longevity, three-quarters of babies will mark their 75th birthdays," Bloomberg News (10/2, Hallam) reports. The researchers noted that "better healthcare for the elderly, particularly in the US, has extended lives by making illnesses...manageable over time and allowing earlier detection and intervention."
WebMD (10/1, Hitti) reported that the researchers speculated that "societies will stop looking at life as consisting of three phases -- childhood, adulthood, and old age -- and start dividing 'old age' into a 'third age (young old)' and a 'fourth age (oldest old).'" They added, however, that "it remains to be seen if obesity, which has also been rising, will put the brakes on rising life expectancies."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Macular Degeneration online self test

The Bedford Eye Care Centre and AMD Alliance International want you to know that millions of people are at risk of vision loss from macular degeneration. Click on the link below to test your vision and pass this email on to family and friends to make them aware of the need for early detection through regular eye exams.

Click on this link to begin.

Yellowish spots (drusen) that form in the back of the eye or retina are an early sign of "dry" macular degeneration

"Wet" macular degeneration occurs with formation of abnormal blood vessels and leakage in the back of the eye (retina), affecting the macula where fine focusing occurs.

Macular degeneration mainly affects central vision, causing "blind spots" directly ahead.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Colour-blind monkeys cured

From: CBC News

Scientists in the U.S. have cured colour-blindness in monkeys, with an eye to one day doing the same for people.

The researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Florida used gene therapy to restore the colour sensitivity of two squirrel monkeys, and say the technique could one day treat other vision disorders involving the eye's cone cells.
"We've added red sensitivity to cone cells in animals that are born with a condition that is exactly like human colour-blindness," William W. Hauswirth, a professor of ophthalmic molecular genetics at the UF College of Medicine, said in a statement.
But even if you can cure monkeys of colour-blindness, how would you know?
The answer begins 10 years ago when Jay and Maureen Neitz — both ophthalmology professors at the University of Washington, and authors on the study — began training two squirrel monkeys named Dalton and Sam.
The couple also worked with the makers of the Cambridge Colour Test, a standard colour-blindness test using patterns of coloured dots, to adapt the test to non-human subjects. The researchers devised a computer touch screen that the monkeys could use to trace the patterns on the screen. When they correctly identified the pattern, the monkeys were rewarded with
grape juice.
'It was if they woke up and saw these new colours … colours that had been invisible to them.'—Jay Neitz, study co-author
Hauswirth and colleagues at the University of Florida developed the gene therapy technique used in the experiment. The scientists wanted to produce a protein involved in red-green light sensitivity, called long-wavelength opsin, in the monkeys.
The genes that code for opsin were introduced into the monkeys using a harmless virus that incorporates its DNA into the host cell.
Used human DNA in experiment
"We used human DNA, so we won't have to switch to human genes as we move toward clinical treatments," said Hauswirth.
In the study, published this week in the journal Nature, the squirrel monkeys began to show signs of colour vision about five weeks after the gene treatment.
CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks will have an interview with Jay Neitz, Sat., Sept. 19.
"It was if they woke up and saw these new colours. The treated animals unquestionably responded to colours that had been invisible to them," said Jay Neitz.
It took more than a year and a half for the researchers to test the monkeys' ability to see 16 different hues.
"If we could find a way to do this with complete safety in human eyes, as we did with monkeys, I think there would be a lot of people who would want it. Beyond that, we hope this technology will
be useful in correcting lots of different vision disorders," Neitz said.
Genetic disorders of the cone cells in the eyes include achromatopsia, which causes poor central vision, as well as complete colour-blindness. The researchers said the same treatment could potentially cure this disease, as well as vision problems associated with aging and diabetes.

Dalton the squirrel monkey enjoys a green bean after treatment for colour-blindness. Before treatment, the bean would have appeared grey to the monkey. (Neitz Laboratory)

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Child’s Eyes Should Be A Parent’s Concern

From Dr. Joel Kestenbaum of Optix Family Eyecare

Here are a few facts a parent should know.

  • 80% of learning is through the eyes.

  • 80% of a person’s lifetime exposure to ultraviolet light comes before he age of 18.

  • Vision screening in a pediatrician’s office is NOT an eye examination.

  • Vision screening in a school nurses office is NOT an eye examination.

  • An eye doctor should examine a child by age three.

Signs that a child might have a problem with their eyes are:

• Difficulty making eye contact

• Difficulty tracking moving objects

• Constant or intermittent crossing or misalignment of one or both eyes

• The pupils appear white

• Red, crusty, watery or painful eyes

• Droopy eyelids

• Squinting often

• Eye rubbing

• Constant blinking

• Eyes appear to bulge

Here are some definitions of some common terms related to the eyes:

• Nearsightedness… Can see near but has difficulty seeing far away.

• Farsightedness… The eyes work harder than normal to see far away and work. even harder to see close up. High degrees of farsightedness need to be treated in children.

• Astigmatism… A distorted image created by a misshapen cornea.

• Glaucoma…related to elevated pressure inside the eye.

• Lazy Eye or Amblyopia… reduced vision from lack of use. Early detection (before age 5 is mandatory) and treatment is necessary to ensure best visual results.

So parents, please be concerned about your child’s eyes and have their eyes examined at the earliest age possible. You will be assuring that they have all the visual tools for a proper education and enjoyment of life’s experiences. Isn’t now a good time?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Omega 3 oils could help cut age-related macular degeneration risk

From the Eye Care Blog:

July 23rd, 2009

WASHINGTON - A diet high in omega 3 oils can lower the risk of developing age related macular degeneration, says a new study.
The study has been published in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Pathology.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), loss of vision in the center of the visual field (macula) due to retinal damage, is one of the leading causes of legal blindness among the elderly.
Now, a group led by Dr. Chi-Chao Chan at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, in America, has found that mice fed a diet high in omega three oils had slower progression of the leisons in the eye and some improvement.
These mice had lower levels of inflammatory molecules and higher levels of anti-inflammatory molecules, which may explain this protective effect.
The results "further provide the scientific basis for the application of omega-3 fatty acids and their biologically active derivatives in the prevention and treatment of AMD." (ANI)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Small tips provide big help to restore young eyes

From the Eye Care Blog:

Do you often get in a fix when someone asks about your dark circles , or when someone guesses your age from your wrinkles over your eyes? Well, to cut a long story short read through.
The story often goes like this: You run into a friend you haven't seen in ages, and, after the initial catch-up, she looks at you, concerned, and utters three dreaded words: "You look tired." You're not — but your eyes are telling a different story. Over time, eyelid skin becomes thinner, more lined, and less toned, creating the impression of fatigue. "I often hear this complaint from women who say their eyes make them look worn out," says Washington, D.C., cosmetic surgeon and laser expert Hema Sundaram, M.D. But treatments and makeup tricks can brighten and wake them up. Here are the best of the bunch.

The Top 4 Issues — Solved!

Puffy Eyes

Some puffiness is genetic, and no eye cream will erase or reduce it. But if your bags come and go, fluid retention is probably the cause. Salty dinners, late nights, a cocktail or two — they can all make your body hold on to water. "Since lid skin is thinner than elsewhere on your face, you'll notice swelling more," explains Jody A. Levine, M.D., a New York City dermatologist.

To the Rescue: Thanks to the pull of gravity, morning facial puffiness is usually gone by lunchtime. To speed things up, try placing a chilled eye compress, cold water-soaked tea bags, or cucumber slices over lids for five minutes. Cold constricts blood vessels and reduces swelling, says Dr. Levine. The caffeine in many eye creams is tightening, too. "Gently press on the bones around your eyes as you apply it," she suggests. "The pressure helps stimulate circulation and drain excess fluid." Try Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller ($13, drugstores) or a Crabtree & Evelyn Gel Eye Mask ($6, Crabtree & Evelyn).

Dark Circles

When blood vessels show through skin, they can give the eye area a bluish cast. "Since skin becomes more translucent with age, blood vessels appear more prominent," explains Heidi Waldorf, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. A less common cause of darkness: post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, doctor-speak for clusters of brown pigment that collect underneath the eyes due to heredity or chronic rubbing (often because of allergies or bothersome contact lenses).

To the Rescue: Daily use of any basic eye cream will temporarily plump skin so blood vessels are less visible, says Dr. Waldorf. Eye creams are a better choice for this purpose than regular face creams, because they tend to have a higher concentration of emollients for plumping and a thicker texture, which makes them adhere to the ever-mobile eye area. To improve the look of brown pigment, try an eye cream with botanical skin lighteners like licorice and kojic acid. We like Bioré Daily Recharging Enliven Cooling Eye Gel ($10, drugstores), with mica for brightening, and Cosmedicine Eye Specialist Essential Moisture Treatment with licorice extract ($45, Sephora).

Next: Solutions for lines, wrinkles, and sagging lids

Lines and Wrinkles

Every time you smile, frown, yawn, or squint, the skin around your eyes crinkles up. Eventually, as the collagen levels diminish, your skin literally stays scrunched, and deeper creases take the place of fine lines.

To the Rescue: A few ingredients are essential. The first is retinol, a vitamin A derivative that rebuilds collagen levels and helps smooth fine lines. (Tretinoin, the stronger, prescription-strength version, also known by brand names like Retin-A and Renova, yields faster, more dramatic results but can irritate the delicate eye area.) Antioxidants like green tea and vitamin C, which help skin retain collagen, are effective wrinkle reducers, too. If your skin is especially sensitive, swap vitamin A products for peptides — proteins that also stimulate collagen growth. "Peptides don't sting or cause redness the way retinols and their cousins can, but they are also less potent," says Dr. Levine. Try antioxidant-packed Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Gold Ultra Lift and Strengthening Eye Capsules ($52, department stores) or Pure Skin Care Black Rice Eye Cream ($13, CVS).

Sagging Lids

As collagen, elastin, and fat decrease with age, eyelids get droopier. "Genetics determine when your skin will sag and to what extent," says Diane Madfes, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "And like any skin aging, sun exposure hastens the effect." As a result, some women have sagging in their late 30s.

To the Rescue: No eye cream alone will reverse sagging once skin begins its downward slide. Only surgery gives you truly long-term improvement. But artfully applied eye makeup can make drooping lids less noticeable. "The trick is to define the lashline and neutralize the lid," says celebrity makeup artist Sandy Linter. Apply a light, nude-colored shadow (like cream or mocha, depending on your skin tone) from your lashes to your brow. Next, dip a liner brush, such as Jane Iredale Eye Liner/Brow Brush ($12), in a gray, brown, or black shadow, and apply color as close to the base of top lashes as possible. "Shadow creates a softer, more natural look than a pencil liner," says Linter. Finish with dark-brown or black mascara. Try Rimmel Colour Rush Eye Shadow Quad in Smokey Brun ($5.40, drugstores).

Next: What a doctor can do

What a Doctor Can Do
When you want faster, more dramatic results than even the best eye cream or makeup trick can offer, you'll find plenty of longer-lasting (but costlier) options at the dermatologist's or plastic surgeon's office.

Best for Banishing Wrinkles

Botox injections. The doctor makes tiny injections of botulinum toxin into the muscles that cause wrinkles, forcing them to relax. The injections take effect in a week or so, and the area stays smooth for three to six months. Cost: about $500.

Chemical peels. A medium-depth peel (like trichloroacetic acid, a.k.a. TCA) stimulates collagen growth by removing the top layer of skin. The body senses an injury and cranks out new healthy skin as a way of healing itself. You'll look like you have a bad sunburn for five to seven days, but then facial skin will be smoother and less lined for six months to a year. Cost: about $1,000.

Lasers. Many kinds of lasers are used around the eyes, usually as part of an allover facial rejuvenation treatment. Lasers help reduce wrinkles by resurfacing skin and stimulating collagen production. As with a peel, you'll look badly sunburned for a few days to a week before the smoothing shows up; it'll last for a year or more, until new wrinkles form. Cost: about $2,000 for the face, including eyes.

Best for Hiding Dark Circles

Hyaluronic acid injections. This clear gel filler, known by brand names like Restylane and Juvéderm, is injected directly into the hollows beneath the eyes to even them so they no longer appear as dark shadows. Expect swelling, mild bruising, and tenderness for up to a week afterward (the bruising can be covered with concealer). Results will last three to six months — or more. Cost: about $600.

Best for Lifting Sagging Lids

Blepharoplasty. During this surgery, the doctor makes tiny incisions around or inside the eyelids to remove loose skin and excess fat, which create a droopy, sleepy look. It takes about two weeks before the bruising goes down; you may not want to return to work until then. But the tightening effect lasts for years. "This procedure can make you look 10 to 15 years younger," says Mark A. Codner, M.D., clinical assistant professor of plastic surgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Cost: about $6,000.

Next: How to fake looking awake

How to Fake Looking Awake

When morning news anchors pull off the bright-eyed look at 5 a.m., they often have their makeup artists to thank. Here, New York City makeup pro Deborah Bell, who has worked with everyone from Katie Couric and Ann Curry to Soledad O'Brien and Campbell Brown, shares the eye-enhancement tricks she deploys daily before the sun rises.
* Use brightening eye drops. It's the easiest, quickest way to make eyes look more awake. "The drops remove any redness and make the whites seem whiter," says Bell.
* Avoid dark eye shadows. They cast the entire lid in darkness. Use a flesh-toned hue instead to even out skin tone, then top it with a sheer gold shadow, applied from lashline to crease. "Gold's luster makes eyes really shine," says Bell. Try Sonia Kashuk Eye Shadow Duo in Razzle Dazzle ($8, Target).
*Dust bronzer over blush. After applying blush, Bell sweeps bronzer along the cheekbones. "Shimmer high on the cheeks brightens the whole face, including the eyes," says Bell. Her pick: Lancôme Star Bronzer Magic Bronzing Brush ($33, department stores), a bronzing powder with a built-in brush.

Dark-Circle Camouflage

*Choose Your Disguise. Pick a creamy concealer (like the kind in a compact). "Creams have a stronger hold than liquids and won't creep into fine lines," says New York City makeup artist Shaun Thomas Gibson. Your concealer should be a shade lighter than your skin tone to counterbalance darkness. We like Physicians Formula Concealer Palette ($8, drugstores), a compact with three shades of concealer, finishing powder, and a tiny applicator brush.

*Perfect Your Technique. Dab on eye cream, and let it soak in for a minute. Then apply foundation (if you wear it), including under your eyes — this will erase some of the darkness so you can use less concealer. A concealer brush will give you the most expert-looking coverage, though a well-placed finger works, too. Paint the cover-up from the inner corner of the eye to the midpoint beneath the eyeball, then feather it out, blending away any obvious demarcation lines.

*Save Your Work. Dust a tiny bit of nude face powder over concealer to hold it in place.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Popular dietary supplement may help prevent cataract

From the Eye Care Blog:

July 16th, 2009
LONDON - Evidence from tissue culture experiments show that popular dietary supplement carnosine may help prevent and treat cataracts, which is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide.
Enrico Rizzarelli from the University of Catania (Italy) who led the study and colleagues note that the only effective treatment for cataracts is surgical replacement of the lens, the clear disc-like structure inside the eye that focuses light on the nerve tissue of the eye.
Cataracts develop when the main structural protein in the lens, alpha-crystallin, forms abnormal clumps. The clumps make the lens cloudy and impair vision. Previous studies hinted that carnosine may help block the formation of these clumps.
The scientists exposed tissue cultures of healthy rat lenses to either guanidine - a substance known to form cataracts - or a combination of guanidine and carnosine.
The guanidine lenses became completely cloudy, while the guanidine/carnosine lenses developed 50 to 60 percent less cloudiness, said a release of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Carnosine also restored most of the clarity to clouded lenses. The results demonstrate the potential of using carnosine for preventing and treating cataracts, the scientists said.
The study will be published July 28 in Biochemistry.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Feast Your Eyes on This!

Excerpts from the Eye Care Blog:

Chefs including host of the Food Network's Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller and author of "Robin Rescues Dinner" have submitted delicious recipes that everyone will love and that are good for your eyes, in a recent meet organised by EyeCare America.

Checkout whether your food is healthy for your eyes by visiting and downloading the free cookbook.

Approximately 1 million Canadians suffer from Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a devastating eye disease and a leading cause of vision loss in people 65 years or older in the Canada.

What is Age-related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a degenerative condition of the It is the most common cause of vision loss in the United States in those 50 or older, and its prevalence increases with age. AMD is caused by hardening of the arteries that nourish the retina. This deprives the sensitive retinal tissue of oxygen and nutrients that it needs to function and thrive.As a result, the central vision deteriorates.

How is Age-related Macular Degeneration caused?
Sometimes the delicate cells of the macula are damaged and stop functioning. The exact cause is not known although it tends to happen as people get older. This is called age-related macular degeneration. The most common types of macular degeneration are the dry [atrophic] and the wet [exudative]. The dry type is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. The wet type results from the formation of abnormal blood vessels under the macula which leak fluid or blood and blur the central vision. Children and young people can also suffer from an inherited form of macular degeneration called macular dystrophy, which can sometimes affect several members from the same family.

What are the symptoms of AMD?

Symptoms of macular degeneration:
Blurred or distorted central vision
Colours look dim
Words on a page look blurred
Straight lines appear distorted
Dark or empty areas appear in the center of vision

This makes activities like reading, writing and recognizing small objects or faces very difficult.
Although there is no cure for AMD, recent studies show that eating foods rich in antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, may reduce the risk of AMD, or slow its progression in some people.

So keeping in mind, the chefs submitted the following list of food items to suit the requirement of eyes.
  • Most fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C, including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils (safflower and corn oil), almonds, pecans, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.
  • For beta-carotene, try deep orange or yellow fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, mangos, apricots, peaches, sweet potatoes and carrots.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, and asparagus are the primary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Good sources of zinc include beef, pork, lamb, oysters, eggs, shellfish, milk, peanuts, whole grains and wheat germ.
  • Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are leafy green vegetables, nuts, fish, and vegetable oils such as canola, soy, and especially flaxseed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The laser that can halt blindness and offer hope for millions

By David DerbyshireLast updated at 8:00 AM on 06th July 2009

A revolutionary laser treatment could save the sight of millions, British experts claim.
The process is said to stop the onset of age-related macular degeneration, one of the commonest forms of blindness, which leaves victims unable to read, drive or live independently.
It can be carried out in just ten to 15 minutes by any ophthalmologist. While it does not cure sight loss, its creators say it could prevent a generation from having to put up with declining vision in old age.

A sight for sore eyes: Professor John Marshall announced a new laser technique which could prevent millions of older people from going blind

People with a family history of the disease could have pre-emptive treatment in their thirties.
The technique is said to be safe and painless and could save the NHS millions of pounds in treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It could even stop the disease getting worse in existing patients.
Medical charities welcomed the breakthrough but warned that it might not be available to the public for several years.
AMD is caused by damage to an area about 5mm across at the centre of the retina called the macula, which is responsible for our central vision.
The disease is the leading cause of blindness in the over- sixties, and around 200,000 Britons are registered as blind or partially sighted because of it.

There is no treatment for the most common 'dry' form. The more aggressive 'wet' version, in which new blood vessels cause bleeding and scarring behind the retina, can be stabilised with drugs.
The technique is the brainchild of Professor John Marshall, an ophthalmologist at King's College London who pioneered laser surgery to correct shortsightedness.
Professor Marshall, who hopes the treatment could be available in a couple of years, said: 'It is really exciting news. It won't bring back damaged eyesight but it may prevent AMD.'
The technique rejuvenates the 'Bruch's membrane' - a thin layer that lies behind the retina.
This provides the retina's light-sensitive cells with nutrients and removes waste created as a by-product of the way retina cells renew themselves.
But the membrane's cells eventually lose the ability to take waste away, allowing deposits to build up.
It can then become so damaged that the retina's lightsensitive cells start to die off. In a trial involving more than 100 diabetics, Professor Marshall found that using a laser stimulated the membrane's tired, ageing cells into action.
After the cells were ' energised' by the laser, they began to clean up the waste again.
Patients also said the treatment led to a ' marked improvement' in their sight.
The non-invasive operation uses a laser modified to give pulses of light that do not damage the eye's light-sensitive cells or cause any dangerous heating of the target area.
Professor Marshall will now treat up to 200 people with AMD in one eye as part of a second trial. Such patients usually get the disease in the other eye within three years.
He wants to see if the laser prevents the good eye losing its sight. 'If you can delay the onset by three, four, six, seven or ten years, it's proof of the principle,' he said.
Tom Pey, of Guide Dogs for the Blind, which funded the research, said: 'This is potentially a huge breakthrough for millions. The science behind it is proven.'
The Macular Disease Society said: 'If this works, then it's very exciting. However, it will be years before this could be ready for use.'

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Optomap Retinal Exam Can Help Detect Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Retinal Holes, Eye Tumors and More…Featured on The Doctors TV Show

Excerpts from Visionary Eye Care Blog:
The Optomap Retinal Examination is currently available at the Bedford Eye Care Centre in Sunnyside Mall in Bedford, N.S.

This incredible technology allows your Eye Doctor to scan the internal lining of your eye called the retina and save this image on the computer for year to year comparisons. The retina has about 1 million nerve fibers in it and is an extension of your brain. The retina is also the ONLY place in the human body where a doctor can observe working nerve fibers and blood vessels WITHOUT cutting into the body. Subtle eye health changes can be documented, monitored and compared each year.

Your retina can show early signs of systemic problems that can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol and more. Your retina can also demonstrate eye health issues such as Glaucoma, Retinal Detachment, Macular Degeneration and Eye Tumors and/or Eye Cancer.

The TV show called “The Doctors” aired a segment discussing the Optomap Retinal Scan and the benefits of this technology during your yearly eye examination to preserve BOTH your eye health and your systemic health.

At the Bedford Eye Care Centre, we have found the Optomap Retinal Scanner to be invaluable in the detection and documentation of many eye and systemic diseases. I have personally found a number of pathologies that I would not have been able to see well enough without the assistance of this incredible technology. It also allows me to more accurately follow the progression of a disease or improvements after treatment. In addition, it’s wonderful to be able to educate the patient properly about their eye condition by showing them their image and we also email the images to specialists when making referrals.

Sample pictures:
Macular Degeneration Retinal Detachment

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Latisse. Making your eyelashes thicker & longer.

Who would have guessed that an anti-glaucoma drug would now be used to make your eyelashes thicker and longer?
One of the side effects of bimatoprost, an anti-glaucoma drug is an increase in length and fullness of eyelashes. Patients are often warned of this side-effect before taking the medication.
However, what may be a side-effect to one person, can be a benefit to another!
In December, 2008, the FDA in the US approved the drug for cosmetic use. Instead of putting the drop in your eye to lower eye pressure, you paint it along the skin on the upper lid margin near the lashes to improve the appearance of eyelashes.
Study results showed the eyelashes of patients that were treated with Latisse typically grew 25% longer, 106% thicker and 18% darker. A small amount of patients (3.6%) experienced eye itching and red eyes.
You can expect to see longer, fuller, and darker eyelashes in as little as eight weeks, with full results in 16 weeks. To maintain desired results, continued treatment with Latisse is required. Therefore, if you discontinue using Latisse, your eyelashes will gradually return to where they were before you started using the product.
The drug is still not approved in Canada, but Health Canada is investigating its release in our country.
Here is some information from the manufacturer, Allergan:



Get ready for an innovation in lashes.
LATISSE® (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) 0.03% is the first and only prescription treatment approved by the FDA for inadequate or not having enough eyelashes, growing them longer, fuller and darker.
LATISSE® works effectively.
LATISSE® makes lash growth possible because of its active ingredient: bimatoprost. Although the precise mechanism of action is not known, research suggests that the growth of eyelashes occurs by increasing the percent of hairs in, and the duration of, the anagen (or growth) phase. Lashes can grow longer, thicker and darker because bimatoprost can also prolong this growth phase.
Clinically proven results you can see over time.
LATISSE® is FDA approved and effective. It's a once-a-day treatment you apply topically to the base of your upper eyelashes. Patients in a clinical trial saw results in as few as 8 weeks with full results after 12 to 16 weeks.
It's an innovation backed by research.
While LATISSE® is a treatment for inadequate or not enough eyelashes, it was developed through years of research by Allergan, a pharmaceutical leader with over 60 years of expertise in prescription eye care products.
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Bedford Eye Care Centre Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

The Bedford Eye Care Centre is pleased to be celebrating our 25th year of providing eye care services in Bedford. In 1984, Dr. Toby Mandelman moved to Nova Scotia from Ontario and started a small practice in the Sun Tower. "I always had a vision of creating one of the top optometric clinics in Canada", says Dr. Mandelman. Through her commitment to providing an exceptionally high level of patient care, her practice soon grew, and in 1992 the office was moved to the Mezzanine level of the Sunnyside Mall. Dr. Angela Dobson joined her in 1994, followed by Dr. Avila Cox in 1998. It was soon time to grow again and the office was completely remodeled and expanded in 2001. Dr. Raman Parkash joined the practice in 2006 and the name Bedford Eye Care Centre was adopted.

Much has changed since 1984. Enter the office now and you will see highly sophisticated instruments, allowing us to ensure a very thorough examination of the eyes. In 2007, we added an Optomap retinal scanner to our eye examination instrumentation. "The Optomap gives us an unprecedented wide-angle view of the entire retina, allowing eye diseases to be identified at earlier stages", notes Dr. Dobson. Glaucoma detection has also been greatly improved with the addition of the GDX instrument that allows us to detect damage to the nerve layer in the retina, resulting in earlier treatment of this potentially blinding disease. "It is comforting to know that we can now detect and treat most eye diseases at such early stages, that few of our patients will have to deal with vision loss," adds Dr. Cox.

"As a relatively new practitioner, I was excited to be joining the Bedford Eye Care Centre as this practice made a commitment to staying up-to-date and provided services not often seen in other clinics," enthuses Dr. Parkash. Specialty services include computerized training for patients with eye muscle imbalances, prescribing specialized magnifiers for visually-impaired patients and children's vision, including well baby checks for 6 month old infants.

All the doctors are skilled at fitting contact lenses, including the very latest technology such as bifocal contact lenses that correct astigmatism. "There have been some amazing advances in lens materials and designs that allow more patients than ever to enjoy wearing contact lenses, safely and comfortably," comments Dr. Dobson. The doctors are also trained in fitting the CRT (Corneal Refractive Therapy) contact lens by Paragon. CRT lenses are worn overnight, gently reshaping the eye to allow clear vision all day without the use of daytime contact lenses or glasses. The Bedford Eye Care Centre employs a full-time certified contact lens fitter, Vanessa Young to help look after our contact lens patients. "I love working with the doctors and being able to provide the highest level of products and care to our patients," says Vanessa.

"Since our opening in 1984, patients have been coming to our optical boutique for the very latest in fashionable frames," notes Dr. Mandelman. Our optical team attends international frame shows, importing frames from around the world, some of which are exclusive to our office. "We pride ourselves on providing a personalized frame selection, ensuring that you will be thrilled with your eyeglasses," adds optician Renee Barrett. There have also been many exciting developments in lens technology, including digital lenses, providing our patients with 'high-definition' vision.

With 4 optometrists and 20 staff, our office has grown exponentially since our opening in 1984. One of our greatest assets is our team of dedicated and friendly staff. "All of our staff are carefully chosen and trained to ensure that you are taken care of by warm, caring people who pride themselves on their work and professionalism," says Dr. Cox. "All of the people in our office, work towards one goal... making sure that our patients continue to be our number one priority," adds Dr. Parkash.

"After 25 years, I can honestly say that my dream has become a reality, as the Bedford Eye Care Centre has become one of the top optometric centres in Canada. One of my greatest pleasures has been to form life-long relationships with my patients, watching their children grow and taking care of their babies in turn. It's also been very satisfying to see many of my young patients become optometrists and colleagues of mine," says Dr. Mandelman.

We have a lot of people to thank, including our suppliers who believed in our practice in the early years and helped us to grow and prosper. We are also grateful to the other health professionals we partner with daily, including the family physicians and ophthalmologists who help us provide the best possible care for our patients.
And, of course, our success would not have been possible without the support of the wonderful people in our community. You are the reason that we work so hard to continually improve and provide you with an exceptional eye care experience.
We look forward to continuing to care for the eyes of our community for at least another 25 years!

Dr. Toby Mandelman, Optometrist
on behalf of the doctors and staff of Bedford Eye Care Centre

Click on the following link to see a 'Trip Down Memory Lane', a slideshow of our offices over the years! 902.835.2020

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Video Testimonial – A Mother Speaks From the Heart About Her 5 Year Old Son and How an Eye Exam Changed His Life

May 21, 2009
Excerpt from Visionary Eyecare
This story is so similar to many I've experienced in my own office. A so-called 'problem' child comes in for an eye examination and ends up doing great in school after getting some badly-needed glasses! I even had a patient who had never had an eye exam until his 20's and had dropped out of school as a youngster and felt he was a failure in life. After finally getting glasses he so desperately needed, he went back to school and is now gainfully employed, happy and married with 3 beautiful daughters. Incidentally, all three girls inherited his problem, but were treated early and really enjoy going to school.
Toby Mandelman, Optometrist

This is a story of how an eye exam can actually change the course of a child’s life.
Jennifer is a loving mother of an 5 year old little boy. Her son is absolutely adorable and a really good child yet, in school he was being labeled a “difficult / problem child” and a “disturbance in the classroom”. He often did not want to pay attention in school, frequently “acted out” and even threw his books. He just did not seem to be interested in reading or learning – at ALL.
As a mother, she knew that this behavior in school seemed a bit odd and out of character for the sweet, loving boy that she knew her son to be at home. The comments from the school really alarmed Jennifer that something was definitely wrong.
Her young son had passed his Pediatrician’s vision screening, AS WELL AS the school vision screening but, acting on motherly instinct – she ignored the comments that “his vision is fine” and took him to see the Optometrist, Dr Dawn Bearden, for a routine eye exam. Eye Doctor, Dr Bearden, manages the Visionary Eyecare (Independent Doctor of Optometry) offices next to Lenscrafters in Pembroke Pines and Sunrise and also next to Pearle Vision in Davie.

During the routine eye examination – Dr Bearden discovered that Jennifer’s son was able to read the eye chart with just a little bit of blur but, he needed eyeglasses to correct the strain that he was feeling while reading. Once the strain was relieved from wearing the glasses full time…the child suddenly became more attentive in school and began reading ALL THE TIME.
Actually, he loved reading SO MUCH that he won an award from his kindergarten teacher for reading!! He even received an award from the school’s Principal for “Most Improved Reader”…he actually read 26 books within 30 days. WOW!!

Jennifer is now a HUGE advocate to have children get eye exams from an eye doctor and for parents NOT to be lulled into complacency by their child passing a vision screening. Her child could have gone through life in the classroom being labeled a “problem” and a “disturbance” simply because he could not see well and his eyes were being strained in school.
Jennifer states the following in her video:
No matter how well a parent THINKS their child sees well or if a child is labeled a “problem” in the classroom because he does not pay attention…it may just be because he can’t see well.
The eye exam has made a HUGE difference and my son has excelled, he is doing wonderful and his behavior is like “night and day”!“I’m a big ADVOCATE…get your child checked by a (eye care) professional!!”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cosmetic Eye Fashion – Eye Tattoos and Eye Jewelry

Here is an interesting blog from Visionary Eyecare:

OK…now we’ve seen some interesting things as optometrists…but, this stuff really takes the cake!
Eyeball Jewelry and Eyeball Tattoos….now we’ve seen everything!
These cosmetic eye fashion procedures take the phrase “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” to a completely new level….
Apparently, there is a company called JewelEye that makes cosmetic 3.5mm eye jewelry platinum implants in the shape of a heart or a half moon. The implant is inserted beneath the conjunctiva (which is the “skin” that covers the white of the eye) yet, on top of the sclera (which is the “white” of the eye).

Although Dutch eye surgeons at the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery perform this 15 minute patented procedure (they say that they actually have a waiting list), in 2004 the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) spoke out against this type of cosmetic implant. An AAO member stated that these implants may cause scar tissue or allow bacteria to get under the conjunctiva which could erode the sclera (the white of the eye) or cause other vision threatening infections. The AAO commented that if these problems occurred – then it could become very difficult to remove the implant.
Another problem is that the conjunctiva is loosely attached to the sclera – so by placing an implant under the conjunctiva…in time, the implant may move around and not stay in place. This could irritate the patient’s eye and possibly cause vision problems.

And another cosmetic eye procedure is the Eyeball Tattoo. Much like the JewelEye implant…the tattoo ink is inserted bewteen the sclera and the conjunctiva (the white of the eye and the skin that covers it) with a needle.

This procedure looks like it is being done in a tattoo parlor – which is a not a sterile operating room. The risk of infection is very high – which can lead to visual impairment.
Also, a needle being used that close to an eye in a surgically untrained hand can be very dangerous. One slip and the needle could scratch the front of the eye (the cornea). Worse yet, the needle could penetrate the eye – causing a retinal detachment which is vision threatening OR it could cause an infection inside the eye – which could lead to loss of the eye.


Again, most eye doctors would advise NOT to have this procedure done - the multitude of RISKS FAR OUTWEIGH any positive cosmetic benefit.