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Optometry Australia and Glaucoma Australia Partner To Increase Awareness of Glaucoma PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 25 November 2015

OA GA PartnershipWith the total cost of glaucoma on the Australian economy rising by $120 million per year, two of Australia’s foremost professional associations have established a new partnership to increase awareness of this debilitating eye disease.

Optometry Australia, the peak professional body for optometrists, and Glaucoma Australia, the peak support group for people and families affected by glaucoma, are committed to reducing the visual impact of glaucoma through community information and education.

“Glaucoma is often called the silent thief of sight and it is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Many people who develop glaucoma won’t realise that they have it until too late and we want to reverse this trend,” Glaucoma Australia President Ron Spithill OAM, said. Optometry Australia’s CEO Genevieve Quilty said: “It is critical that every Australian has regular eye examinations throughout life so that diseases such as glaucoma can be detected early and suitable treatment programs put in place. Optometrists play a key role in this”.

Ms Quilty said that she was delighted that Optometry Australia and Glaucoma Australia have committed to collaborating and putting joint programs in place to try to prevent this insidious eye disease further infiltrating the lives of Australians.

The two bodies have signed a binding Memorandum of Understanding designed to promote their critical roles in glaucoma detection and management within the community. The MOU is further designed to strengthen the relationship between the two organisations. Tony Gibson OAM, from Eyecare Plus (Mitcham Victoria) said that the “MOU represents an important step for optometrists in recognising the profession’s crucial role in working with Glaucoma Australia for the betterment of glaucoma patients”.

Both organisations have agreed to collaborate on the implementation of patient education systems, to advocate for economically sustainable support for the early detection of the condition and for the collaborative care of people with glaucoma. An estimated 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, but only half have been diagnosed. For the other 150,000 they are living with the risk of progressive vision loss leading to possible blindness. With the total cost economic cost of glaucoma expected to rise to $43 billion by 2025 with the aging of the Australian population, glaucoma doesn’t discriminate.

Pfizer To Acquire Allergan PDF
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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Pfizer Inc. and Allergan plc yesterday announced that their boards of directors have unanimously approved, and the companies have entered into, a definitive merger agreement under which Pfizer will combine with Allergan – Growth Pharma, in a stock transaction currently valued at US$363.63 per Allergan share, for a total enterprise value of approximately US$160 billion, based on the closing price of Pfizer common stock of US$32.18 on November 20, 2015. The transaction represents more than a 30 percent premium based on Pfizer’s and Allergan’s unaffected share prices as of October 28, 2015. Allergan shareholders will receive 11.3 shares of the combined company for each of their Allergan shares, and Pfizer stockholders will receive one share of the combined company for each of their Pfizer shares. The transaction is essentially a takeover of Allergan by Pfizer.

Under the terms of the proposed transaction, the businesses of Pfizer and Allergan will be combined under Allergan plc, which will be renamed “Pfizer plc.” The companies expect that shares of the combined company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and trade under the “PFE” ticker. Upon the closing of the transaction, the combined company is expected to maintain Allergan’s Irish legal domicile. Pfizer plc will have its global operational headquarters in New York and its principal executive offices in Ireland.

Pfizer’s innovative businesses will be significantly enhanced by the addition of a growing revenue stream from Allergan’s durable and innovative flagship brands in desirable therapeutic areas such as Aesthetics and Dermatology, Eye Care, Gastrointestinal, Neuroscience and Urology. The combined company will benefit from a broader innovative portfolio of leading medicines in key categories and a platform for sustainable growth with diversified payer groups. With the addition of Allergan, Pfizer will enhance its R&D capabilities in both new molecular entities and product line extensions. A combined pipeline of more than 100 mid-to-late stage programs in development and greater resources to invest in R&D and manufacturing is expected to sustain the growth of the innovative business over the long term. Through product approvals, launches and inline performance the combined company aspires to be a leader in growth.

The combination of Pfizer and Allergan will significantly increase the scale of Pfizer’s established business, and their complementary capabilities will maximize the combined established portfolio. The addition of Allergan’s Women’s Health and Anti-Infectives portfolio will add depth to Pfizer’s established business, and Pfizer will expand the reach of Allergan’s established portfolio using its existing commercial capabilities, infrastructure and global scale. In addition, Allergan brings topical formulation, manufacturing and its Anda distribution capabilities to the combined company.

As a result of the combination with Allergan and subsequent integration of the two companies, Pfizer now expects to make a decision about a potential separation of the combined company’s innovative and established businesses by no later than the end of 2018.

Researchers Develop Visual Test To Quickly Check Brain Function Quality PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Monday, 23 November 2015

BrainU.S. researchers from the University of Georgia have developed a simple technique to measure an individual's visual processing speed—the speed at which an individual can comprehend visual information—in order to identify whether or not they may have cognitive issues.

The recent study, published in the journal Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, focuses on using a simple test of visual flicker to evaluate an individual's level of executive cognitive abilities, such as shifting attention between different tasks, planning or organizing and problem solving.

For this study, researchers used a method based on measuring processing speed through sight. The device they used tests processing speed by measuring an individual's critical flicker fusion. Participants in the study looked into a device that was created for the purpose of this study. Inside the device, two wavelengths of light would alternate flashing, making it seem as though the light they were looking at was flickering on and off. A participant's critical flicker fusion measure tops out when the flicker is too fast for the participant to see. This flicker measure predicted participants' executive cognitive functioning. Individuals with higher critical flicker fusion also had higher executive functioning.

Researchers also found that results varied based on a participant's age. They tested two age groups-college students, averaging 21 years, and older adults, averaging 72 years. Generally, the older participants had slower visual processing speed, which researchers expected as older adults typically process information more slowly. What separates this study from others is the simplicity and accuracy of the flicker measurements, a researcher said. Critical flicker fusion may tap more basic cognitive processes than other tests traditionally used by researchers.

The brain, not the eye, determines the fastest visual flicker that can be perceived. By measuring critical flicker speeds researchers are able to assess the processing speed of the brain itself, which forms the basis of many higher cognitive functions, such as fluency or memory.

Although this study is still in early stages, it may change the process of future exams when testing for dementia and other cognitive issues.

New Contact Lens Grading Scales Available PDF
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Friday, 20 November 2015

CL Grading ScalesNew Grading Scales released by Brien Holden Vision Institute, which provides optometrists with an easy to use consulting room guide for the monitoring of common contact lens complications, can be downloaded for free from the Institute’s Academy website.

The Grading Scales are used as an in-practice reference tool by optometrists and provides a guide for determining the severity and progression of complications such as bulbar redness, limbal redness and corneal staining as well as descriptions and photographs of adverse effects associated with contact lens wear. The easy to use Grading Scales also allows optometrists to make consistent clinical management decisions.

The new Grading Scales can be downloaded for free from the Institute’s education website, The Academy provides educational support to eye care personnel, optometry students and optometry schools.

Medicated Eye Drops Slow Nearsightedness Progression PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Thursday, 19 November 2015

Eye Drops ChildResearchers say medicated eye drops may be the key to fighting rapidly worsening eyesight in children with myopia. Results from a five-year clinical trial show that drops of low-dose atropine significantly slowed the progression of nearsightedness in children with fewer side effects than higher dosages. The research has been presented at AAO 2015, the 119th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The findings suggest that this medication could potentially be an effective treatment in the fight against the global surge in nearsightedness.

Nearsightedness, or myopia, has increased dramatically worldwide over the last few decades and remains a leading cause of visual impairment globally. Developed Asian countries report myopia rates of 80 to 90 percent among young adults. While vision can be corrected by glasses or contacts, severe nearsightedness has ramifications that include greater risk of retinal detachment, macular degeneration, premature cataracts and glaucoma.

To help combat this public health issue, investigators in Singapore turned to atropine, a treatment commonly used to treat lazy eye. In this study, which began in 2006, 400 children age 6 to 12 were randomly assigned a daily dose of atropine. Three different groups took drops nightly at concentrations of 0.5, 0.1, or .01 percent for two years. Doctors then stopped the medication for 12 months. For children whose eyes became more myopic during that year off (-0.5 D or more), researchers started another round at 0.01 percent for another two years. The researchers discovered the following key findings:

  • After five years of usage, children using the low-dose 0.01 percent atropine drops were the least myopic when compared to patients treated with higher doses.
  • Atropine eye drops at 0.01 percent slowed myopia progression by an estimated 50 percent compared to children not treated with the medication in an earlier study.
  • Atropine at .01 percent appears to be safe enough to use in children age 6 to 12 for up to five years, though more study is needed. The lower dose caused minimal pupil dilation (less than 1 mm), which minimized light sensitivity experienced at higher concentrations. Patients also experienced minimal near-vision loss with the low-dose drops. 

Atropine inhibits axial growth of the eye associated with nearsightedness. But, the way the medication works remains largely unknown. In addition, the medication has several side effects when given at higher concentrations. For instance, at the concentration used for lazy eye, atropine dilates the pupils. This results in light sensitivity and blurry vision when looking at objects up close. Children taking higher concentrations often need to wear bifocals and sunglasses. In addition, higher concentrations have also caused allergic conjunctivitis and dermatitis.

This trend could change now that much lower doses of atropine appear to offer the similar benefit in reducing nearsightedness progression, without the side effects. The researchers say this latest five-year follow-up study shows the long-term benefits outweigh the risks. However, they emphasize more information will be needed to establish which children are good candidates, as about 9 percent of children in the low-dose group did not respond to the drops in the first two years. More research is also needed to determine when treatment can safely begin and how long the drops should be used. Additional studies on atropine for myopia progression to be conducted in Europe and Japan may help find those answers.

“For a long time we’ve known that atropine drops can help keep myopia from getting worse to some degree,” said Dr. Donald T. Tan, FRCS, FRCOphth, lead investigator and professor of ophthalmology at the Singapore Eye Research Institute and the National Singapore Eye Centre. “We now have data showing that it is not only effective, but also safe. Combined with other interventions, this treatment could become a great ally in preventing myopia from causing serious visual impairment in children worldwide.”

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