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09 October is World Sight Day 2014 PDF
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International News
Tuesday, 07 October 2014

World Sight Day 2014Nearly half a million Australians are blind or vision impaired. Amazingly, only three per cent access services that could make a significant difference to their health and livelihoods. Without low vision services, activities sighted people take for granted, such as shopping, gardening, preparing meals, crossing the road and catching public transport can be difficult and dangerous. Low vision services promote independence, are available throughout Australia, and are usually provided free of charge.

Many people with low vision don't know the benefits of accessing services that can equip them with the skills they need to maintain their independence throughout life and in a variety of settings including: home, work, school and sport.

2014 is the first year of the WHO GAP (Global Action Plan) and IAPB (International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness) encourages its members and partners to continue with its rolling theme: Universal Eye Health. This year, the 'Call to Action' for World Sight Day is: "No more Avoidable Blindness". The Call to Action will draw attention to a few key interventions that are crucial for the success of GAP's target – reducing avoidable blindness by 25%, by 2019. Using the call to action as a clarion call, organisations can identify various aspects of GAP that need urgent attention. They are also invited to customise the call to action, to their disease area – "No more Cataract" or "No more Trachoma" for example.

Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Could Damage Vision PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Monday, 06 October 2014

ViagraAustralian researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have found that erectile dysfunction drugs could damage vision. Sildenafil, the active ingredient in the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra®, could cause unusual visual responses in people who carry a common mutation for eye disease and may have long-term detrimental effects on their vision, UNSW researchers warn.

Sildenafil can inhibit an enzyme which is important for transmitting light signals from the retina to the brain, and it is already known from clinical trials of Viagra® that its use in high doses can cause transient disturbances in the vision of some healthy people.

"Side effects can include sensitivity to bright light, blurred vision and altered colour vision," says Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith, of the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science.

"We are concerned that people who have normal vision but who carry a single copy of the mutant gene for the blinding disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa, could be more susceptible to these changes."

A team led by Dr Nivison-Smith and UNSW's Professor Michael Kalloniatis studied the effects of a single dose of sildenafil on normal mice and mice with a single copy of the mutant gene.

The results are published in the journal Experimental Eye Research.

They found the normal mice had a transient loss of visual function after sildenafil treatment, but this effect was heightened in the mice with the mutation, and the response lasted longer. They also found early signs of cell death in the eyes of carrier mice, but not in the normal mice, suggesting sildenafil may cause degeneration in carriers of retinal disease.

"These finding are highly significant because about one in 50 people are likely to be carriers of recessive genes which cause retinal disease but are unlikely to know this, because their vision is normal," says first author of the study, Dr Nivison-Smith.

The researchers are conducting further studies to work out the mechanisms behind long term effects of sildenafil on the eyes of carrier mice.

"A better understanding of the effect of this family of erectile dysfunction drugs could help scientists and clinicians plan more successful strategies to account for factors such as a patient’s medication and genetic makeup in diseases which cause blindness," says Dr Nivison-Smith.

Retinitis Pigmentosa is the most common genetic disease which leads to blindness. It can be caused by a mutation in the gene that produces the enzyme PDE6. People with two copies of the mutant PDE6 gene get the disease, while carriers, with just one copy, have normal vision.

Sildenafil is part of a family of drugs which inhibit the enzyme PDE5, to treat erections, but they can also inhibit PDE6. This is likely to be a problem for carriers of a mutant PDE6 gene, because they produce less of the enzyme than normal. To study the eyes of the mice, the team used a technique called electroretinography, which measures the electrical signals of cells in the eye when they are activated by light.

Researchers Find No Link Between Swimming Goggles and Glaucoma PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Friday, 03 October 2014

Lions Eye Institute (LEI) medical researchers have found no link between the regular use of swimming goggles and glaucoma. Reporting in the British Medical Journal, LEI Managing Director Professor David Mackey said previous studies had found a small but significant transient increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) – a risk factor in the development of glaucoma - in people wearing certain types of swimming goggles.

The studies found this increase was maintained while the goggles were on but returned to normal levels as soon as they were taken off.

"These past findings suggested that wearing goggles could represent a significant risk factor for developing or worsening of glaucoma in people who swim regularly," Professor Mackey said. "We performed comprehensive eye exams on 231 members of local swimming clubs and 118 non-swimmers. "Their IOP and retinal nerve fibre layer thickness were measured, with the result that we did not detect any new cases of glaucoma in our cohort of frequent swimmers. We also found no difference in the thickness of the retinal nerve fibre layers between swimmers and non-swimmers."

The research team concluded that frequent use of swimming goggles did not lead to an increased risk of glaucoma over time in adults.

Vision-Ease Lens Acquired By Private Equity Firm PDF
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Thursday, 02 October 2014

Vision-Ease Lens has announced its acquisition by Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based private equity investment firm. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

Vision-Ease Lens is a leading, global manufacturer of branded ophthalmic lenses, including clear, photochromic and polarized lenses in polycarbonate, hard resin, glass and high-index materials. Its products are sold wholesale and through independent and retail eye care locations worldwide.

"This recapitalization with Wind Point Partners will enable our long-term growth in some key areas, while continuing our excellence in day-to-day operations," said Doug Hepper, president and CEO of Vision-Ease Lens. "The leadership team is investing alongside Wind Point to expand our business capabilities within and adjacent to our core competencies. We will also be able to devote more resources to global growth."

Wind Point Partners is a leading private equity firm investing with experienced management in well-positioned companies that have strong growth potential.

"Vision-Ease Lens is a strong investment for our firm because of its long-standing stability and position as a market leader in value-added ophthalmic lenses, as well as the breadth of its products and strong brand reputation," said Nathan Brown, a managing director at Wind Point Partners. "We will contribute Wind Point’s expertise and resources to build on these core strengths with increased internal investment and acquisitions."

Safilo Expands Its Presence in Middle East PDF
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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

Safilo Group strengthens its presence in the Middle East markets with the opening of a locally incorporated company, fully owned by Safilo, in Dubai, UAE. The newly opened showroom and office in Dubai will serve all customers of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia, and function as Safilo’s Headquarter of the new Middle East and Africa region.

The new Safilo Middle East Free Zone Establishment (FZE) is opening at the Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZ), ranked amongst the top free zones in the Middle East and in the world, this Saturday September 20th, 2014, in a ceremony attended by His Excellency the Ambassador of Italy Mr. Giorgio Starace, DAFZ Vice GM Mr. Nasser Al Madani and Safilo Group CEO Mrs. Luisa Delgado. It includes 200m² of Italian designed showroom and offices, to showcase the full collections of all the 24 brands in Safilo’s prestigious international brand portfolio.

Through its new direct presence, Safilo will be able to fully leverage the exceptional luxury retail opportunity that the Middle East region offers to its highest quality brand portfolio, to deepen its partnership with its key customers building mutual trust based on a long term commitment, and to gain closer local consumer understanding.

The Middle East represents one of the top two Global Retail Destinations (according to CBRE) behind London, and ahead of New York.

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