Ophthalmologist Rand Paul Wins Senate Race in Kentucky

In Tuesday’s midterm elections, Congressman Rand Paul defeated Democrat Jack Conway to become Kentucky’s newest US Senator and the first ophthalmologist win a Senate seat. He is joined by fellow Republican John Boozman of Kansas, who is an optometrist. Several ophthalmologists have run for Congress, but Paul is the first to move from the House of Representatives to the Senate.

Senator-elect Paul was a Tea Party favorite in the Kentucky Senate race, and is the son of noted libertarian Congressman Ron Paul, who ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States in 1988 as the Libertarian Party nominee and again twenty years later competing for the Republican nomination. Rand’s father Ron Paul is also a physician, serving as an Air Force flight surgeon in the 1960s. Both Rand Paul and his father are considered extremely conservative, but Rand Paul is more closely associated with the emergent Tea Party movement.

Rand Paul still owns his private ophthalmology practice in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he has specialized in corneal transplants, LASIK, and glaucoma treatment. Paul is also a member of the Lions Club, a service organization known worldwide for helping needy individuals with optical health, both diagnosis and treatment.

Some controversy emerged in June over Paul’s decision to let his certification from the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) lapse over a dispute with the organization. This means that Paul is not a “board-certified” ophthalmologist as he had claimed, being certified only by the National Board of Ophthalmology, which Paul himself founded in protest against the ABO. Paul is still licensed in Kentucky in good standing, and is still qualified to practice ophthalmology despite lacking board certification.

Despite a viciously negative campaign, Paul won a convincing victory over his rival, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, with 56% of the votes compared to Conway’s 44%.

New LASIK Procedures Trial to Begin at Naval Medical Center

San Diego, CA – The Food and Drug Administration has announced that a new clinical trial of LASIK will begin clinical trial of LASIK will begin at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, California. The trial will focus on developing a template for a national study that will look at LASIK safety and effectiveness.

This is the second phase of the joint FDA and National Eye Institute and Department of Defense LASIK Quality of Life Collaboration Project, and titles Patient-Reported Outcomes with LASIK (PROWL-1). PROWL-1 will enroll military personnel who wish to undergo elective LASIK surgery at the Navy Refractive Surgery Center, a part of the Naval Medical Center. The enrollees will fill out questionnaires that are related to the outcomes and to the procedure itself developed during the first phase of the project. The questionnaires will be administered one, three, and six months post-operatively.

From here, a third phase of the project will be a national multicenter study. It will be based on the experience of the PROWL-1 trials.

The study is being developed to help doctors understand the risks of LASIK and, hopefully, lead to a reduction in the number of patients who have complications. This is the result of FDA findings that showed inadequate adverse event reporting systems. Seventeen LASIK ambulatory facilities were warned about this in a letter from the FDA.

According to the agency, all LASIK facilities must report by law any serious injuries caused by a medical device to the FDA or the manufacturer. However, the FDA has stated that the ambulatory surgery facility inspections didn’t identify problems with the LASIK machines at these facilities.

Researchers Discover Myopia Gene

A large research collaboration including scientists from Duke University Medical Center, Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, National University of Singapore and Kings College in London has produced an important breakthrough in the genetics of eye diseases and conditions. Published in Nature Genetics last month, the research identifies a specific gene strongly linked to myopia in Caucasians.

The gene they identified is close to the RASGRF1 gene, known to be important to the function of the retina and in forming visual memories. Their findings are based on corroborating evidence from a population of more than 13 thousand people. The researchers also discovered a gene called CTNDD2 linked to myopia among Chinese and Japanese populations.

Potential for Gene Therapy

Building on these findings, the researchers believe myopia may be an excellent target for future gene therapy, which attempts to eliminate symptoms of genetic defects by repairing the genetic code itself.

While gene therapy is definitely years away, eye problems such as myopia are prime targets for gene therapy because the eye is a small, mostly self-contained organ. This would reduce the risk of gene therapy treatment causing unpredicted, adverse side effects when administered to the entire body.

For more information on current myopia treatments with laser vision correction and LASIK surgery, please visit eyes.com today or find a qualified ophthalmologist in your area.

PRK and LASEK Results Comparable to LASIK

NEW YORK – Two alternatives to LASIK laser vision correction surgeryphotorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and LASEK—appear to offer comparable results for patients with myopia who cannot have LASIK because of problems like thin corneas.

LASIK is definitely the most popular surgical vision correction technique for myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, but is not available to all patients. According to an August study published in Ophthalmology online, confirms previous studies that suggest that PRK and LASEK patients experience similar results and side effects.

All three procedures—LASEK, PRK, and LASEK—use a laser to change the shape of the cornea’s middle layer. The difference is that in LASIK surgery, the eye surgeon removes a tiny flap of outer-corneal tissue, which is replaced after the surgery. In PRK surgery, the eye surgeon instead simply removes the outermost layer of the cornea, which later regenerates naturally. LASEK uses a flap of corneal tissue like LASIK, but the flap is much thinner and is made with a specially-designed microsurgical blade and a specially-formulated alcohol solution.

While differences between the techniques would theoretically produce different results, at least for postoperative pain and recovery, but this new study reviewed twelve previous studies and found essentially no difference among the techniques in vision improvement or postoperative recovery and pain.

If you are not a candidate for LASIK laser vision correction surgery, you may still be able to undergo PRK or LASEK vision correction surgery. To find a vision correction eye surgeon in your area, please visit our Eye Doctor Directory.

Moderate to Severe Myopic Astigmatism Corrected by ICLs

New York, NY – According to a study from Japan and published in the July 3 online edition of Ophthalmology, the Visian Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) successfully corrects moderate to high myopic astigmatism.

Lead researcher Dr. Kazutaka Kamiya from University of Kitasato School of Medicine, Kanagawa, says, “These findings suggest that toric ICL implantation may become a viable alternative to corneal refractive procedures for the treatment of such eyes.” The researchers believe that toric ICL implantation is more successful for patients with this condition than keratorefractive surgical techniques. They previously reported toric ICL implantation was a better surgical procedure than wavefront-guided LASIK, which is still seen as one of the best refractive surgery techniques because of its safety, stability, efficacy, and predictability.

The Study

The study in the current paper reports on clinical outcomes performed last year in which toric ICLs were implanted in 56 eyes in 32 patients with moderate to high myopic astigmatism. In almost all of the eyes, there was no change in best spectacle corrected visual acuity or a gain of one line. There was a gain of two lines in five eyes, and a loss of one line in three, but no loss of two or more lines in any of the eyes.

In five of the eyes, there was a ten degree or more change of axis rotation or deteriorating visual acuity up to a week after the surgery. All five required repositioning of the ICL. However, 90% of the eyes were within 0.5 D of the attempted correction of spherical equivalent and all eyes were within 1.0 D of the targeted correction after a year.

The researchers are continuing observation to assess long-term safety of the surgical procedure, and are especially looking at toric-specific complications, such as axis-rotation.

LASIK Undergoing Comprehensive Review

We like to think of LASIK as an accomplished technology and procedural innovation, but like many advanced medical technologies, questions remain about the safety and efficacy of the procedure and the technology that supports it. In response to anecdotal evidence of adverse vision effects experienced by some patients, possibly at a higher than expected rate, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) convened a public advisory panel of outside experts to review the process in 2008. What the experts heard suggested that there were many significant unanswered public health questions about LASIK.

As a result, the FDA that it decided to conduct a collaborative study with the National Eye Institute and the Department of Defense to examine the potential impact of LASIK on the quality of life of patients. The Quality of Life Project would be conducted in three phases. In the first phase, the FDA is attempting to design a questionnaire that will help doctors and regulators to better assess the quality of life impacts of LASIK treatment.

In the second phase, investigators will evaluate the quality of life and satisfaction following LASIK for patients at the Navy Refractive Surgery Center. As yet, there is no announced completion date for this phase.

Phase 3 will be a national multi-center clinical trial to study the impact on quality of life following LASIK. The goal is to assess the overall impact of LASIK on the general population, including its impact on some subpopulations that may be more vulnerable to adverse effects from the procedure.  This phase is expected to be completed in 2012.

Overall, LASIK is considered a relatively safe procedure, but the FDA is acting out of the “abundance of caution” that seems to be its guiding principle these days.

To learn more about this issue and whether LASIK is right for you, please talk to an eye doctor in your area about the procedure.

LASIK and Cataract Surgery

A cataract is the clouding of your eye’s natural lens and impairs your vision. To correct this problem, your defective lens can be removed and replaced with an implantable intraocular lens (IOL) of a predetermined power.

The measurements that are conducted to achieve this predetermined power are extremely specific. If they are even slightly inaccurate, you may need to undergo laser vision surgery to restore your vision. If you have undergone LASIK surgery, the corneal measurements used to determine the power of your implanted lens have been altered by the reshaping of your cornea. An experienced eye surgeon can accurately estimate these changes by formulas and assessing your eye history. Be sure to tell your eye surgeon if you have undergone LASIK surgery.

At Eyes.com, we are committed to providing thorough and accurate information so you can make an informed decision about your cataract surgery after undergoing LASIK.

Cataract Surgery after LASIK

Most eye surgeries carry the risk of cataracts, and LASIK is no exception. Some ophthalmologists believe that patients with signs of cataracts before LASIK should not have LASIK, since their vision may be corrected with the IOL used in cataract surgery.

Especially since your altered cornea causes inaccurate measurements for IOL placement, patients who have undergone LASIK surgery and develop cataracts might find themselves immediately back in glasses or contacts or having to undergo additional eye surgeries.

If you would like to schedule a consultation, please visit our Eye Doctor Directory to find an experienced eye surgeon in your area.