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Ophthalmologist Uses Telehealth Technology To Diagnose Patients in Outback Australia PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 09 July 2014

A quiet revolution has been taking place in Indigenous Australian eye care in the Pilbara, a remote Australian region, that is transforming lives and families. In a first for the West Australian region, telehealth technology has been used to connect patients from the remote communities of Jigalong, Punmu and Parnngurr to an ophthalmologist, Dr Angus Turner, over 1,000 kilometres away.

Dr Turner was able to make a diagnosis with the help of optometrist Stephen Copeland in Jigalong and immediately refer people for surgery at an eye intensive in Port Hedland supported by The Fred Hollows Foundation. For Mavis Arnott it meant just 48 hours between being screened and having an operation instead of waiting up to 12 months for specialist eye care. As a result she can see her 14-year-old granddaughter Brianna for the first time. The 75-year-old has returned to Jigalong, 400 kilometres north east of Port Hedland with a spring in her step and her sight restored after living for many years with blinding cataract.

During the hook-up, patients were able to talk directly about their eye conditions and treatment. The project involved all the precision of a military manoeuvre. It is the result of partnerships between Lions, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service, the Western Australian Health Department and the Indigenous and Remote Eye Health Service (IRIS), which chartered patients from Jigalong to Port Hedland.

AAO Says Marijuana Not Proven Treatment for Glaucoma PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Tuesday, 08 July 2014

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is reminding the public that it does not recommend marijuana or other cannabis products for the treatment of glaucoma.

Based on analysis by the National Eye Institute and the Institute of Medicine, the Academy finds no scientific evidence that marijuana is an effective long-term treatment for glaucoma, particularly when compared to the wide variety of prescription medication and surgical treatments available. Ophthalmologists also caution that marijuana has side effects which could further endanger the user's eye health.

Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), the most common form of glaucoma and a leading cause of blindness in the United States, occurs when tissue in the eye gradually becomes less efficient at draining fluid. As this happens, eye pressure (called intraocular pressure or IOP) rises, causing irreparable damage to the optic nerve.

Initial studies in the 1970s reported that smoking marijuana or administering it orally or intravenously (but not topically applied to the eye) did lower IOP for 3 to 4 hours, but there is no evidence to date that proves it alters the long-term course of the disease. Glaucoma medication and surgical treatments – which are scientifically proven to be effective and safe for daily use – also do not have the negative side effects of marijuana.

In addition, marijuana lowers blood pressure throughout the body, resulting in the potential to lower the blood flow to the optic nerve which can lead to vision loss. This could effectively cancel out the benefit of a lowered IOP. In addition to the commonly known side effects of marijuana, people who smoke marijuana also increase their risk for cancer and eye diseases.

People who have glaucoma and are considering using marijuana to treat the disease are strongly urged to consult an ophthalmologist about the risks.

"Ophthalmologists are focused on providing treatments that will give patients the very best results," said Gregory L. Skuta, MD, glaucoma specialist and president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "For glaucoma, this means recommending therapies that have been proven to safely alter the course disease over a long-term period, such as medicated eye drops or surgery. No research exists to date that demonstrates that marijuana can deliver this level of efficacy."

Researchers Regrow Human Corneas PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Monday, 07 July 2014

Cornea Re-growthResearchers have identified a way to enhance regrowth of human corneal tissue to restore vision, using a molecule known as ABCB5 that acts as a marker for hard-to-find limbal stem cells. This work, a collaboration between the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute (Mass. Eye and Ear), Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the VA Boston Healthcare System, provides promise to burn victims, victims of chemical injury and others with damaging eye diseases. The research, published last week in Nature, is also one of the first known examples of constructing a tissue from an adult-derived human stem cell.

Limbal stem cells reside in the eye's basal limbal epithelium, or limbus, and help maintain and regenerate corneal tissue. Their loss due to injury or disease is one of the leading causes of blindness. In the past, tissue or cell transplants have been used to help the cornea regenerate, but it was unknown whether there were actual limbal stem cells in the grafts, or how many, and the outcomes were not consistent. In this study, researchers were able to use antibodies detecting ABCB5 to zero in on the stem cells in tissue from deceased human donors and use them to regrow anatomically correct, fully functional human corneas in mice.  

Australian Research Outlines Ripple Effect of Vision Loss PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Friday, 04 July 2014

In a recent research article Australian scientists from the Centre for Vision Research and Westmead Millennium Institute at the University of Sydney have revealed that the burden of wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) weighs heavily not only on people living with the disease, but also on those who care for them. The article has been published in the peer reviewed  journal Aging and Mental Health under the title "Predictors of psychological distress in caregivers of older persons with wet age-related macular degeneration".

The article outlines the research conducted by Macular Disease Foundation Australia in 2013 including methodology, analysis and results revealing the extent of psychological stresses placed on carers of those with wet macular degeneration. Julie Heraghty, CEO of the Macular Disease Foundation Australia says, "We are proud and excited by the publication of this research. It was a significant and worthwhile project enabling the Foundation to further explore the role of the carer of someone with macular degeneration. From this study we were able to highlight the unexpected burden of wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) and understand the impact on both the person living with the disease and the person who cares for them. A highly successful media campaign directed people to support for depression, carer support entitlements and the need to ensure 'care for the carer'."

Contact Lens Manufacturer Sauflon Sold to The Cooper Companies PDF
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Thursday, 03 July 2014

The Cooper Companies Inc and the shareholders of Sauflon Pharmaceuticals Ltd have signed definitive agreements for the Cooper Companies Inc to acquire the entire share capital of Sauflon Pharmaceuticals. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is anticipated to complete prior to the end of fiscal 2014.

According to The Cooper Companies, the timing is perfect as the daily disposable category is the fastest growing modality globally and this transaction will enable CooperVision to be the premier contact lens manufacturer globally offering a full suite of daily disposables in hydrogel and silicone hydrogel materials. The transaction is further enhanced by Sauflon's wide portfolio of contact lens aftercare products complimenting both companies range of reusable lenses. The deal is fully supported by the Sauflon and CooperVision management teams, who are committed to seeing it through to a successful completion and integration. We anticipate many opportunities for both organisations and employees upon completion.

Sauflon's Managing Directors and senior leadership teams will stay on in the business after closing to assist with and manage the integration. Upon completion the combined group will offer a full range of contact lenses in every material, design and modality along with the most comprehensive range of contact lens aftercare products designed to enhance the contact lens wearers’ experience. 

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