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Australian Government To Provide Funding To Tackle Avoidable Blindness In Asia Pacific PDF
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International News
Friday, 10 May 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced last week that the Australian Government will provide funding to two Australian organisations to help tackle avoidable blindness in developing countries in the Asia Pacific.

Senator Carr said the Australian Government was committed to helping our closest neighbours respond to the issue of avoidable blindness, announcing funding for the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation and Sight for All Limited to host three Australia Awards Fellowship Programs.

Senator Carr made the announcements in Sydney at the launch of a series of reports commissioned by the Fred Hollows Foundation and prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which confirm the considerable economic and social benefits of investing in eliminating avoidable blindness in developing countries.

The Australian Government has invested more than $85 million since 2008 to support developing countries in our region address avoidable blindness. This investment has helped to deliver more than 400,000 vision screenings, 27,000 sight-restoring surgeries and to train more than 9,000 eye health workers.

 
Hospital-based Consultants Perform Virtual Glaucoma Reviews PDF
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International News
Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A prototype informatics application for the remote collection of glaucoma patients' data to enable it to be viewed by specialists for diagnosis in another location has been developed by U.K.'s Moorfields Eye Hospital's OpenEyes team, Charing Systems and Black Pear software.

The pilot application - designed for use with iPads is seen as a way of enabling the running of virtual glaucoma clinics which potentially can save patients’ numerous and often inconvenient trips to hospital and free up glaucoma specialists time - was funded by a £75,000 award from NHS Connecting for Health‘s Interoperability Toolkit (ITK) Information Sharing Challenge Fund (ISCF).

Glaucoma is a chronic condition of the eye characterised by raised intraocular pressure, and progressive damage to the optic nerve. It is one of the major causes of visual loss in the UK and involves regular examinations for patients (typically every four to six months) to ensure that their treatment (usually eye drops) remains effective in preventing further loss of vision. Frequent visits to hospital for examinations can be very inconvenient for patients and also mean high workloads for glaucoma clinics in hospital.

The medical management of glaucoma is dependent on the monitoring of discrete and relatively small sets of clinical data, looking for changes over time and/or relative to individualised standards. For example, a patient may have a ‘target’ intraocular pressure, above which the risk of visual loss becomes much greater. Therefore, decision-making about treatment can in most cases be made based on the values of those measurements. This makes the running of remote clinics possible as data can be acquired by clinical staff that are not necessarily trained to make management decisions, with the decision-making made in ‘virtual clinics’ by consultants who are expert in the management of the condition.

The need for 'virtual clinics' has been clear for many years, but the technology required to deliver them has previously been lacking. There is a clear clinical need to develop an infrastructure to underpin the use of virtual clinics.

The prototype solution uses iPads in remote community clinics to enable a Black Pear app called iRIS to capture the metrics associated with glaucoma assessments. The patient data is then messaged using ITK from the iPad to the Moorfields’ OpenEyes patient record system, from where a specialist consultant can diagnose glaucoma. Working closely with Charing Systems, data was collected and stored through use of openEHR archetypes. The combination of ITK and use of openEHR archetypes has proven to be an effective method for collecting and transferring clinical data.

It is hoped to develop the prototype further and set up a series of virtual clinics making use of the tablet software in peripheral centres, with decision-making being carried out by experienced consultants at Moorfields City Road branch.

 
MIDO 2013: Modest Increase In Visitors PDF
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International News
Friday, 08 March 2013

MIDOThe 43rd MIDO (International Optical, Optometry and Ophthalmology Exhibition) ended this week after three busy days - from Saturday 2 to Monday 4 March - of networking, talking business, professional updating, and exposure and visibility for companies in the industry. Visitor statistics rewarded the efforts that had gone into attracting all the various players in the industry, with a 3% increase in visitors and with 60% of these arriving from about 40 different countries.

The next MIDO will be held from 1 till 3 March 2014 in Milan.

 
OGS Appoints Inaugural Chair of New Global Development Board PDF
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International News
Friday, 22 February 2013

J C AragonOptometry Giving Sight (OGS) has announced that Dr. Juan Carlos Aragon (picture), Senior Vice President, Americas Region for CooperVision, will be the inaugural Chair of the organisation's new Global Development Board (GDB). The Global Development Board has been created at the request of the Board to be a key driver of strategic growth and development in relation to fundraising.

"Dr. Aragon has a very strong commitment to, and understanding of, Optometry Giving Sight, both personally and professionally, and has more than 28 years experience working in the global optical industry," said CEO, Clive Miller. "His knowledge and passion for the development of Optometry and the elimination of refractive error blindness and impaired vision has already inspired colleagues around the world, and we think he will be an excellent Chair of the GDB".

Joining Dr. Aragon on the GDB will be: Claude Darnault – Chief Sustainability Officer, Essilor; Dr. Glenn Ellisor – CEO, Vision Source; Dr. Tony Hanks – Founder and Chairman, Eyecare Plus (Australia); Rob Lynch – CEO, VSP Global; Andrea Saia – Board member, Coca Cola Enterprises; Dr. Al Ulsifer – FYI Eye Doctors; Dr. Rick Weisbarth – VP Professional Affairs, Alcon.

"It's a great honor for me to take on this role and to be working with such an esteemed group of industry leaders," said Dr. Aragon. "I believe that there is so much more that we as an industry can do to ensure that all people have access to affordable eye and vision care. It's a win-win in my view – we promote the importance of good vision and an effective vision care industry, while helping millions of people around the world realize their potential by being able to see clearly."

 
Bionic Eye Receives FDA Approval in US PDF
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International News
Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Argus Bionic EyeSecond Sight Medical Products, Inc., developer of retinal prostheses for the blind, has recently announced that it's Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System ("Argus II") has received U.S. market approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat individuals with late stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP). This announcement follows receipt of the European approval in 2011, and a unanimous recommendation by the FDA's Ophthalmic Devices Advisory Panel in September 2012 that this revolutionary product be made available to treat this patient population in the U.S.

Argus II is intended to provide electrical stimulation of the retina to induce visual perception in blind individuals with retinitis pigmentosa and has the capacity to offer life-changing visual capabilities to those currently unable to see anything except, at best, extremely bright lights.

With approval from the FDA, the Argus II is slated to be available later this year in clinical centers across the US. Second Sight will be actively adding sites to make the therapy more readily available and encourages interested facilities and patients to contact them.

FDA approval came following more than 20 years of work in the field, two clinical trials, over US$100M in public investment by the National Eye Institute, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, and an additional US$100M in private investments.

 
Ocular Therapeutic Engineering Centre Launched in Singapore PDF
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International News
Monday, 04 February 2013

Wong - SubbuFor glaucoma patients, taking daily medication will soon become a thing of the past. Instead, with Singapore's Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) newest solution, a simple, quick and painless injection four times a year would be enough. The solution contains an anti-glaucoma drug wrapped in nano-sized capsules, and is delivered by an injection into the outer layer in the front of the eye (conjunctiva) by the doctor.

The nanocarrier will then slowly release the drug over several weeks. LipoLat, as it is known, is now ready for clinical trials. Extensive pre-clinical studies have shown that this single injection is as effective at treating glaucoma as taking daily eye drops for up to 3 months. Forgetting to administer the daily eye drops is the most common problem faced by glaucoma sufferers, and failure in taking the eyedrops correctly on a daily basis can result in a tragic and permanent loss of vision.

There are also many problems with eye drops, including allergies, unpleasant side effects, remembering to take them at the correct time, correct insertion technique, storage and hygiene. Such an innovative 'eye-dea' like LipoLat is what NTU's latest research centre, the Ocular Therapeutic Engineering Centre (OTEC), has as its mission.

Housed at NTU's School of Materials Science and Engineering, OTEC builds upon the School's successful research collaboration with the Singapore Eye Research Institute. Centre Director, Professor Subbu Venkatraman, who is also the School Chair, said the centre will build on the strong research collaboration between clinical scientists and NTU technologists, to develop new drug delivery systems for the eye.

Working closely with Prof Venkatraman (picture) as the Co-Director of the centre is Dr Tina Wong (picture), an Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Materials Science and Engineering and a senior consultant at the Singapore National Eye Centre. She is also Head of the Ocular Therapeutics and Drug Delivery Research Group at the Singapore Eye Research Institute.

The Ocular Therapeutic Engineering Centre will have about ten full time scientists. Among its initial projects, which are individually funded by various funding sources and agencies, include an implantable device which can constantly monitor the pressure changes within the eye in real time.

 
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