Identifying the Gene Mutations that Cause Myopia

Researchers at Duke Medicine believe they have found the gene mutations that cause the common eye disorder myopia (nearsightedness). The Researchers have discovered that when the genes that regulate copper and oxygen in eye tissue mutate, they can result in high-grade myopia, a condition that has been linked to an increased risk for issues such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal detachment
  • Cataracts

These findings, however preliminary, are paving the way for future research into copper deficiency and its link to high-grade myopia. Researchers are hoping to find a link that will enable them to help prevent serious disorders by addressing copper deficiency rather than necessitating more invasive procedures.

Protecting Your Eyes

High-grade myopia effects only two percent of the population, but myopia itself is the most common eye disorder in the United States. While there is no cure for myopia, it can be treated with glasses, contact lenses, and often through surgical procedures such as LASIK and PRK.

If you suffer from myopia and are interested in learning more about your options, talk to your ophthalmologist to find the solution that is best suited to meet your particular needs.

To find an experienced ophthalmologist in your area, please visit our Eye Doctor Directory today.

Glaucoma as a Neurological Disorder

Jeffrey L. Goldberg, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute has posited a new theory about glaucoma that may help researchers better understand this incurable eye disease. In a review published in Ophthalmology, Dr. Goldberg discusses new clinical trials that look at and treat glaucoma as a neurological disorder similar to Alzheimer’s, a theory that is based on the fact that this eye disease is a result of damage to the optic nerve.

The new research focuses on retinal ganglion cells which connect the eyes to the brain via the optic nerve. These cells are essential for proper vision, but have not been the focus of previous research or treatments for glaucoma. Using medications similar to those for other neurological disorders, the researchers hope to not only find a treatment for glaucoma, but a cure as well.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

Glaucoma can be asymptomatic until it is too late, making it important to know the risk factors and take proper precautions such as frequent eye exams. Some of the risk factors for glaucoma include:

  • Being over the age of 60
  • Being of African or Hispanic descent
  • Use of steroid medications
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having a family history of the disease

Even if you are not at a higher risk for glaucoma, seeing your ophthalmologist every year after the age of 60 remains the most effective way to prevent complete vision loss due to various eye diseases and conditions.

Please use our directory to find an ophthalmologist in your area to schedule a glaucoma screening today.

Studying the Origins of Eye Disease

Researchers at Sweden’s Lund University are using new technology in hopes of determining why people suffer vision loss due to issues such as retinal detachment and glaucoma. Up to this point, research on eye diseases that lead to vision loss have focused almost entirely on the biomechanics of the eye. This new research, a collaboration between the Departments of Clinical Sciences and Biology at Lund University, will focus instead on the biomechanics of the entire central nervous system in hopes of finding an explanation as to why people develop these diseases.

Researchers have already grown retinal tissue from adult pigs that has been stretched to a similar state as a normal human eye. They have found that when the mechanical balance is disturbed, by being compressed for example, the tissue dies in a matter of days. Their initial findings indicate that the biomechanical factors that control tissue health in the central nervous system influence eye diseases that lead to vision loss. Their hope is to not only better understand these diseases, but to discover more effective late-term treatments and even a potential cure.

About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve becomes damaged. There is currently cure for glaucoma, but it can be treated when caught early on. Symptoms of glaucoma include a sudden onset of vision disruption such as blurriness, but in many instances the disease is caught only through frequent eye examinations.

If you have not recently been screened for glaucoma, please find an ophthalmologist in your area to schedule an eye exam today.

Researchers May Have Identified Early Indicator for Glaucoma

Changes in the blood vessels in the retinas may be a warning that a person is at an increased risk for glaucoma, according to the results of a recent study.

Glaucoma is a series of conditions that contribute to optic nerve damage and lead to vision loss. The findings of a recent study, which were published in the online edition of Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, indicate that an abnormal narrowing of retinal arteries is likely a sign that a person faces a heightened risk for developing glaucoma.

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma, and it is one of the leading causes of vision loss. Individuals with open-angle glaucoma rarely exhibit any obvious symptoms until the onset of vision loss, which makes the results of this new study especially exciting.

If additional research confirms narrowed retinal blood vessels as a predictor for glaucoma, eye doctors would have a new diagnostic tool for identifying those at risk for glaucoma and beginning early glaucoma treatment. Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments that can slow its progress and help preserve your vision.

If you have questions about glaucoma or would like to schedule an eye exam, please use the Eyes.com Find a Doctor page to locate an experienced ophthalmologist near you.

Study Links Increase in Vision Loss to Rise in Diabetes

For those who don’t already know, diabetes can cause blindness, especially long-term. A new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Wilmer Eye Institute states that vision loss has increased a whopping 20 percent in a decade. They blame the rise in diabetes for this rise.

Nonrefractive vision impairment, like glaucoma and cataracts, requires surgery or laser therapy, and is often caught too late. When diabetes strikes younger people, these vision impairments are likely to come at a much younger age. When people have diabetes for ten or more years, vision loss risks skyrocket. And according to the study, adults younger than 40 who have had diabetes for ten or more years, doubled from 0.3 to 0.7 percent during testing from 1999 to 2002 and 2005 to 2008.

The study acknowledges that there is no proof that diabetes is the singular factor in the rise of vision loss, however the association is certainly there, and the only indicator that got worse and worse as the study went on.

What this means for the future is more people who are dependent on others in getting around, restricted driver’s licenses, as well as other problems that simply come from younger people who are considered overweight or obese.

It was also noted that everyone with diabetes in England is screened regularly for vision problems, which can eliminate blindness related to the disease. However, only about half of diabetics in the US are screened regularly.

If you have diabetes and need to have your eyes checked, find an experienced eye doctor in your area through eyes.com today.

High Supplement Use of Iron and Calcium Linked to Higher Incidence of Glaucoma

According to findings first reported at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2012 Annual Meeting, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found that people who take higher doses of iron and calcium through supplements have a higher rate of developing glaucoma. However, the researchers found that those whose dietary intake of calcium and iron was high have decreased odds of developing glaucoma.

It is believed the difference is because supplements and vitamins taken through diet are either absorbed differently or “act in biologically different ways.”

Research Survey

Researchers surveyed the diets of 6316 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) participants between 2005 and 2008 who were 40 years or older. Estimated usual intake of calcium and iron were put into quintiles, and age, race, sex, and comorbities were placed into a model to produce a ratio for those who self-reported glaucoma.

Of the 6316 participants, 422 developed glaucoma. Examination of these 422 participants showed total higher intakes of calcium and iron as supplements. However, when dietary intake of nutrients in food was examined, researchers found the odds ratios diminished as the intake of the vitamins lessened.

The lead researcher explained that, “we can hypothesize that high total intakes of calcium or iron, driven by supplement use, may serve as potential environmental stressors.” She goes on to say, “And this, combined with a background of already impaired calcium or iron homeostasis due to aging or other factors, may lead to damage of the trabecular meshwork or ganglion cell death, thus ultimately increasing the risk of glaucoma.”

She emphasized that this is a hypothesis that needs much further research before a recommendation can be made.

If you are suffering from glaucoma, please find an experienced eye doctor in your area through eyes.com today.

Glaucoma Associated with Cognitive Impairment, Depression in Older Adults

Although it does not prove a direct link between glaucoma and cognitive impairment, a recent study found higher rates of depression and cognitive impairment among older adults with glaucoma compared to other older adults.

The study looked at 41 glaucoma patients at the University of Colorado’s Glaucoma Service. The average age of the patients was 70. The study’s author is Dr. Brian P. Yochim. The study can be found in the Journal of Glaucoma.

The study found 22 percent of these patients were experiencing cognitive impairment, as measured by memory and verbal fluency tests to detect dementia. In comparison, 16 percent of older adults in the general population have some level of cognitive impairment.

The rate of depression among glaucoma patients was actually lower than researchers expected. Depression is an understandable outcome for someone facing deteriorating sight. In the study, patients were found to have depression at a rate of 12 percent, compared to 1 to 5 percent in the general population of older adults.

The study’s finding may explain why some older glaucoma patients have problems sticking to a treatment regimen. Memory problems could make it difficult for a patient to consistently take the right medication, at the right time.

To learn more about glaucoma, please find an eye doctor in your area using the eyes.com directory.

Eye Diseases on the Rise in the US

According to a report issued by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute, eye diseases – including those that cause blindness – are on the rise in the US. The research shows that since 2000, there has been a marked increase in cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy has increased an alarming 89% over the last 12 years, and an estimated eight million people 40 and over now have this disease, which can lead to blindness.

Other results show:

  • A 25% increase in macular degeneration affecting more than two million people over the age of 50
  • A 22% increase in open angle glaucoma affecting nearly three million people 40-years-old and older
  • A 19% increase in cataracts affecting more than 24 million people 40 and older

While vision can be restored if the patient has cataracts, provided they are caught in time, glaucoma can only be treated and the pressure relieved. The high percentage of diabetic retinopathy cases seems to be due to the diabetes epidemic plaguing the country, especially among minorities. A clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology calls the results “scary” and says they are “proof we are in a losing battle.” She also says the he increase in macular degeneration “mirrors the booming aging population.”

Protecting the eyes against these and other diseases is very important. Getting regular eye exams yearly can help head off any serious problems you may encounter later on in life. Eating healthy, getting your blood glucose levels checked, and talking to your healthcare provider, as well as your ophthalmologist are things you can do to keep your risks of eye diseases low.

If you believe you are at risk for these or other eye diseases, please find an experienced eye doctor in your area through eyes.com today.

Risk Factors for ES Glaucoma Identified

Data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) continue to reveal new insights into diseases with complex risk factors, such as glaucoma. In the most recent publication related to NHS-HPFS data, researchers have identified several major risk factors for developing exfoliation syndrome (ES), which can significantly increase a person’s risk for developing glaucoma.

ES occurs when material from the iris rubs off. It can be seen on the lens as a whitish flaky material, but it does not impair vision. The main danger of this material is that it can clog the eye’s drainage angle, leading to elevated intraocular pressure which damages the optic nerve, which is what we call glaucoma. In addition, ES can contribute to your cataract risk, as the flecks may increase crystallization of the lens’ proteins. Now researchers have identified several risk factors that contribute to your likelihood of experiencing this eye disease.

The dominant risk factors seem to be genetics, age, gender, and where you live. The genetics and age connections have long been known. People with a family history of the condition have essentially double the risk for developing it themselves. Risk for the condition also increases with age–the mean age of sufferers seems to be in the early 70s.

Women seem to be at a greater risk for this condition than men, but it is unknown whether this is due to hormonal, environmental, or anatomical variables. perhaps the most striking discovery is that where you live can have a dramatic impact on your risk for developing this condition. Those in the northernmost parts of the US have the highest risk, with those in the middle US have a 47% decreased risk, and those in the southernmost third of the US have a 75% reduced risk. Surprisingly, where you live now is only the second most strongly associated location for your risk of ES. The most strongly associated location was the residence of people at age 15.

The NHS-HPFS data utilizes lifetime data from about 130,000 subjects and can identify some important correlations, though of course it cannot determine whether these are simple correlations or actual causal relationships.

The most important thing to remember about glaucoma is that it can often be subtle with no symptoms before you begin losing vision. To prevent vision loss, you should have regular appointments with your eye doctor for glaucoma screening. If you do not currently have one, you can find an ophthalmologist in your area to help identify glaucoma before vision loss.

Vision Organizations Challenge Federal Glaucoma Report

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Glaucoma Society (AGS) are challenging a federal review stating there is neither a clear link between glaucoma treatment and visual impairment, nor is there sufficient evidence supporting that open-angle glaucoma screenings can affect the condition’s eventual progression.

The review was conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and its findings potentially impact Medicare and private insurance coverage for existing glaucoma treatments designed to limit the symptoms of glaucoma and slow its development. “We did not find direct or indirect links between glaucoma screening and visual field loss, visual impairment, optic nerve damage, intraocular pressure and patient-reported outcomes,” the report reads. “… there is limited evidence that screening for (open-angle glaucoma) can reduce intermediate or final health outcomes including visual impairment and optic nerve function.”

Open-angle glaucoma is thought to affect at least 2 million Americans. While there is no cure, there are glaucoma treatment options including eye drops and surgery that have proven effective for many patients.

The AAO and AGS have asked for evidence to be re-examined, citing what the organizations believe are errors in the manner in which data was reviewed and evaluated.

“The AHRQ reviews and recommendations for screening and treatment of glaucoma fail to properly weigh the overall effectiveness of proven methods of patient care, and therefore could have significant negative social impact on the medical community’s ability to control the disease,” said a press release from the AAO.

If you have questions about glaucoma and your glaucoma treatment options, please contact eyes.com to locate an experienced eye doctor near you.