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Eye / Vision Problems

Action video games sharpen eyesight: U.S. study

Children's Health • • Eye / Vision ProblemsMar 31 09

Adults who play a lot of action video games may be improving their eyesight, U.S. researchers said on Sunday.

They said people who used a video-game training program saw significant improvements in their ability to notice subtle differences in shades of gray, a finding that may help people who have trouble with night driving.

“Normally, improving contrast sensitivity means getting glasses or eye surgery—somehow changing the optics of the eye,” said Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester in New York, whose study appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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B vitamins may ward off age-related vision loss

Eye / Vision ProblemsFeb 24 09

Taking folic acid and vitamin B6 and B12 may help women preserve their eyesight as they age, a new study out in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows.

Among 5,205 women 40 and older, those who had been randomly assigned to take the vitamin combo were about 35 percent less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a deterioration of the retina that is the leading cause of vision loss among older US adults.

“There’s no way other than avoiding cigarette smoking to reduce the risk of the onset of age-related macular degeneration, and this is the first suggestion that maybe there’s something else we can do,” Dr. William G. Christen of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, a researcher on the study, told Reuters Health. But the findings must be confirmed before the vitamins can be recommended for AMD prevention, he added.

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Losing belly fat may cut risk of eye disease

Eye / Vision ProblemsNov 28 08

New research suggests that people who lose weight around their middle, particularly those who are obese, can decrease their odds of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of severe vision loss among elderly people.

“Reduction in risk of AMD may be an additional benefit of reducing weight, especially in obese and overweight patients,” Dr. Tien Y. Wong, from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and co-researchers wrote in report published this month.

Prior research looking at the link between obesity and AMD has yielded conflicting results. In the current study, Wong’s team examined how changes in weight impact the risk of AMD in 12,515 adults between 45 and 64 years old who were followed for 6 years.

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Disease Leads to Vision Loss More Often in Men

Eye / Vision ProblemsOct 16 08

A new study shows that men are more likely to lose vision as a result of a particular cause of intracranial hypertension, or increased pressure in the brain, than women with the condition. The research is published in the October 15, 2008, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a neurological disorder involving too much cerebrospinal fluid pressure, resulting in severe headaches, swelling of the optic nerves, vision loss, double vision, and a whooshing noise in the ears. The disease affects about one in 5,000 people, and is more common in women.

Researchers reviewed the medical records of 721 people with this kind of intracranial hypertension. Only nine percent of the group was male. Participants underwent eyesight exams and brain scans.

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Vision loss more common in people with diabetes

Diabetes • • Eye / Vision ProblemsOct 13 08

Visual impairment appears to be more common in people with diabetes than in those without the disease, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Approximately 14.6 million Americans had diagnosed diabetes mellitus in 2005 and another 6.2 million had undiagnosed diabetes, according to background information in the article. It is estimated that the number of individuals with diagnosed diabetes will increase to 48.3 million by 2050. “Diabetic retinopathy [damage to the retina caused by diabetes], one of the most common microvascular complications of diabetes, is considered to be one of the major causes of blindness and low vision,” the authors write. Although studies suggest that controlling glucose and blood pressure have reduced the rate of retinal diseases, other ocular conditions suffered by diabetic patients, such as cataract and glaucoma, may increase the risk of visual impairment. Additionally, decreased vision caused by an abnormal shape of the cornea is also common among people with diabetes.

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Many Hispanics with diabetes unaware of potential eye disease, do not receive eye exams

Diabetes • • Eye / Vision ProblemsJul 14 08

Hispanic patients with diabetes appear to have less frequent eye examinations than the national average for Hispanic individuals, and many are not aware of the potential ocular complications of diabetes, according to a report in the July issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

One in five Hispanic individuals older than 40 years currently has diabetes, and almost half have diabetic retinopathy, a related eye disease, according to background information in the article. “The limited use of health care services in minority groups may make them more susceptible to the complications of uncontrolled diabetes,” the authors write. “In addition, a substantial proportion of those with diabetes are unaware of their condition, although already presenting signs of moderate to severe diabetic retinopathy. The importance of appropriate and timely care for diabetic retinopathy or macular edema [swelling in the retina] is paramount, as it is the leading cause of visual loss among working-age Hispanic individuals.”

Beatriz Muñoz, M.Sc., of the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and colleagues interviewed 349 randomly selected Hispanic individuals without diabetes and a group of 204 Hispanic individuals with diabetes. Participants answered questions about demographic information, health care habits and knowledge of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.

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Eating fish may curb risk of age-related eye disease

Dieting • • Eye / Vision ProblemsJun 16 08

Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and oily fish appear to lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to pooled data from nine “observational” studies that evaluated omega-3 or fish intake in the prevention of AMD.

AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss among elderly people, the Australian research team notes in the latest issue of Archives of Ophthalmology. New treatments for AMD carry risks and treat only certain forms of the disease. Therefore, preventing AMD by modifying risk factors, like cigarette smoking, “remains an important public health strategy,” they write.

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Glaucoma vision loss leads to more health problems

Eye / Vision ProblemsJun 10 08

A new study of Medicare beneficiaries with glaucoma demonstrates that vision loss is associated with a greater risk of depression, nursing home admission, and femur fracture.

Care became more costly as vision worsened, Dr. Thomas Bramley of Xcenda in Salt Lake City and colleagues also found, ranging from $8,157 for patients with no vision loss to $18,670 for those with complete blindness.

Glaucoma accounts for about three quarters of all cases of visual impairment, Bramley and his team note in their report. Recently, they add, Medicare has been emphasizing awareness of glaucoma and progression of the disease.

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Paralysed Israeli paints with his eyes

Eye / Vision Problems • • Respiratory ProblemsJun 04 08

First his arms and legs stopped working, then his respiratory system. Now Rahamim Melamed-Cohen can hardly speak and sits motionless in a wheelchair except for the barely visible flicker of his eyes.

But thanks to technology and his own tenacity, the 70-year-old Israeli has harnessed the power of those tiny eye movements to write books, compose music, and now create pictures that have been made into a book and shown at a Jerusalem exhibition.

“Most people paint with their hands, some use their toes, others use their mouths - but I paint with my eyes,” Melamed-Cohen wrote in the forward to his recently published book “With a blink of an eye”.

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Glaucoma Associated With Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Death in Black Patients

Eye / Vision Problems • • HeartMar 11 08

In a population of African origin, persons with diagnosed and treated glaucoma appeared to have an increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes, according to a study by Suh-Yuh Wu, and colleagues in the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Ophthalmology at Stony Brook University, the University of the West Indies, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. The study results are published in the March issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of visual impairment worldwide. The most common type, primary open-angle glaucoma, is especially prevalent in populations of African origin, including African-Americans, in which it is the foremost cause of blindness. According to Wu and coauthors, populations of African origin have higher rates of death from chronic disease than white populations and also tend to have and higher eye pressure (ocular hypertension).

Wu and colleagues studied 4,092 participants age 40 to 84 (average age 58.6) in the Barbados Eye Studies, which assessed a predominantly black population with similar ancestry to African-Americans. Initial visits occurred between 1987 and 1992. Height, weight and blood pressure were recorded. Interviews were conducted, and eye photographs and various eye measurements were taken, including eye pressure. Participants with specific findings were also referred for a comprehensive ophthalmologic examination.

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Disease Leads to Vision Loss More Often in Blacks

Eye / Vision Problems • • HeartMar 11 08

Black people are more likely to lose vision as a result of idiopathic intracranial hypertension, or increased pressure in the brain, according to a study published in the March 11, 2008, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“The racial difference does not appear to be based on differences in diagnosis, treatment or access to care,” said study author Beau Bruce, MD, of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. “The disease affects black people more aggressively. Doctors may need to monitor their black patients more closely and take steps to prevent vision loss earlier than with other patients.”

The cause of idiopathic intracranial hypertension is not known. Symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears, and vision problems such as blurriness and double vision. It is most common in young, obese women.

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Study finds degenerative eye disease raises stroke risk

Eye / Vision Problems • • StrokeFeb 29 08

People with age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of severe vision loss, have double the usual risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke, Australian researchers reported on Thursday.

They found that for people under the age of 75 when the study began, those who developed early age-related macular degeneration had twice the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke within the next decade.

People with the late stage of the incurable disease at the start of the study had five times the risk of dying from a heart attack, and 10 times the risk of dying from a stroke, Paul Mitchell of the Centre for Vision Research at the University of Sydney and colleagues found.

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Role identified for glaucoma gene and related signaling pathway

Eye / Vision Problems • • GeneticsFeb 14 08

Researchers have found that a gene and a related signaling pathway play a role in the development of glaucoma, which is a common cause of visual impairment and blindness worldwide. The team was led by Alcon Research and included investigators from the University of Iowa and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study, which revealed that over-expression of the gene, sFRP1, elevates pressure in the eye, could help improve glaucoma diagnosis and lead to the development of sight-saving treatments. The study results appeared online Feb. 14 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

“The cause of glaucoma and the resulting elevation of intraocular pressure has been poorly understood,” said Abe Clark, Ph.D., Alcon’s vice president of discovery research and head of glaucoma research. “This new discovery may allow researchers to develop therapies to treat the underlying cause of the disease.”

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New Implantable Lenses Can Reduce the Need for Glasses After Cataract Surgery

Eye / Vision ProblemsJan 21 08

Cataract surgery involves removing a clouded natural lens from inside the eye and replacing it with a plastic one. While the operation itself hasn’t changed much over recent years, the plastic lenses have. The biggest advantage of the newer lenses is their ability to reduce the need for glasses after surgery, says a newly updated report from Harvard Medical School.

The Aging Eye: Preventing and Treating Eye Disease explains that the older types of plastic lenses help people see well at one distance—be it close up, far away, or at a medium distance. Two newer types of lenses, accommodating and multifocal, let the eye focus at varying distances, so fewer patients need glasses for reading or distance vision.

The accommodating intraocular lens has hinges on its sides that permit it to move as the eye’s ciliary muscle contracts or relaxes. This improves the ability to change focus from near to far. The multifocal intraocular lens uses a new type of refractive technology to provide focus for multiple distances.

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Contact lenses purchased over Internet may place individuals at risk for harmful eyecare practices

Eye / Vision ProblemsJan 06 08

Purchasing contact lenses online may save consumers time, but the process could cause more problems in the long run, according to a new study reported in the January issue of Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association. The research, conducted by Joshua Fogel, Ph.D., and Chaya Zidile of Brooklyn College, found that individuals who did not purchase their contact lenses from an eye doctor, but from an online site or store, are potentially placing themselves at greater risk. The findings indicated that online and store purchasers (consumers who get their contacts at a wholesale club or optical chain outlet) are less likely to adhere to healthy eye care practices, as recommended by their eye doctor.

According to the Contact Lens Institute (CLI), more than 30 million individuals wear contact lenses.

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