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Ophthalmology and Optometry
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Human Eye Movements Reveal Love and Lust PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Eye Movements - Love and LustA new study by University of Chicago and University of Geneva researchers suggests the difference between love and lust might be in the eyes. Specifically, where your date looks at you could indicate whether love or lust is in the cards. The new study found that eye patterns concentrate on a stranger's face if the viewer sees that person as a potential partner in romantic love, but the viewer gazes more at the other person's body if he or she is feeling sexual desire. That automatic judgment can occur in as little as half a second, producing different gaze patterns. (Photo : Courtesy of Stephanie Cacioppo)

Previous research by lead author Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the UChicago High-Performance Electrical NeuroImaging Laboratory, has shown that different networks of brain regions are activated by love and sexual desire. In this study, the team performed two experiments to test visual patterns in an effort to assess two different emotional and cognitive states that are often difficult to disentangle from one another—romantic love and sexual desire (lust).

Male and female students from the University of Geneva viewed a series of black-and-white photographs of persons they had never met. In part one of the study, participants viewed photos of young, adult heterosexual couples who were looking at or interacting with each other. In part two, participants viewed photographs of attractive individuals of the opposite sex who were looking directly at the camera/viewer. None of the photos contained nudity or erotic images.

In both experiments, participants were placed before a computer and asked to look at different blocks of photographs and decide as rapidly and precisely as possible whether they perceived each photograph or the persons in the photograph as eliciting feelings of sexual desire or romantic love. The study found no significant difference in the time it took subjects to identify romantic love versus sexual desire, which shows how quickly the brain can process both emotions, the researchers believe.

But analysis of the eye-tracking data from the two studies revealed marked differences in eye movement patterns, depending on whether the subjects reported feeling sexual desire or romantic love. People tended to visually fixate on the face, especially when they said an image elicited a feeling of romantic love. However, with images that evoked sexual desire, the subjects' eyes moved from the face to fixate on the rest of the body. The effect was found for male and female participants.

According to the researchers: "By identifying eye patterns that are specific to love-related stimuli, the study may contribute to the development of a biomarker that differentiates feelings of romantic love versus sexual desire. An eye-tracking paradigm may eventually offer a new avenue of diagnosis in clinicians' daily practice or for routine clinical exams in psychiatry and/or couple therapy."

The research has been published in the journal Psychological Science.

 

 
"Nano-Pixels" Could Lead To Contact Lens Displays and Synthetic Retinas PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Monday, 21 July 2014

A new discovery will make it possible to create pixels just a few hundred nanometres across that could pave the way for extremely high-resolution and low-energy thin, flexible displays for applications such as ‘smart’ glasses, synthetic retinas, and foldable screens.

A team led by Oxford University scientists explored the link between the electrical and optical properties of phase change materials (materials that can change from an amorphous to a crystalline state). They found that by sandwiching a seven nanometre thick layer of a phase change material (GST) between two layers of a transparent electrode they could use a tiny current to ‘draw’ images within the sandwich "stack".

Initially still images were created using an atomic force microscope but the team went on to demonstrate that such tiny "stacks" can be turned into prototype pixel-like devices. These "nano-pixels" – just 300 by 300 nanometres in size – can be electrically switched "on and off" at will, creating the coloured dots that would form the building blocks of an extremely high-resolution display technology.

Whilst the work is still in its early stages, realising its potential, the Oxford team has filed a patent on the discovery with the help of Isis Innovation, Oxford University’s technology commercialisation company. Isis is now discussing the displays with companies who are interested in assessing the technology, and with investors.

The layers of the GST sandwich are created using a sputtering technique where a target is bombarded with high energy particles so that atoms from the target are deposited onto another material as a thin film.

The research suggests that flexible paper-thin displays based on the technology could have the capacity to switch between a power-saving "colour e-reader mode", and a backlit display capable of showing video. Such displays could be created using cheap materials and, because they would be solid-state, promise to be reliable and easy to manufacture. The tiny "nano-pixels" make it ideal for applications, such as smart glasses, where an image would be projected at a larger size as, even enlarged, they would offer very high-resolution.

The research has been published in the journal Nature.

 
Smell And Eye Tests May Detect Alzheimer's PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Alzheimer's deseaseA decreased ability to identify odors might indicate the development of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease, while examinations of the eye could indicate the build-up of beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer's, in the brain, according to the results of four research trials reported recently at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 2014 in Copenhagen. In two of the studies, the decreased ability to identify odors was significantly associated with loss of brain cell function and progression to Alzheimer's disease. In two other studies, the level of beta-amyloid detected in the eye was significantly correlated with the burden of beta-amyloid in the brain and allowed researchers to accurately identify the people with Alzheimer's in the studies.

Beta-amyloid protein is the primary material found in the sticky brain "plaques" characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. It is known to build up in the brain many years before typical Alzheimer's symptoms of memory loss and other cognitive problems. "In the face of the growing worldwide Alzheimer's disease epidemic, there is a pressing need for simple, less invasive diagnostic tests that will identify the risk of Alzheimer's much earlier in the disease process," said Heather Snyder, Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association director of Medical and Scientific Operations. "This is especially true as Alzheimer's researchers move treatment and prevention trials earlier in the course of the disease. More research is needed in the very promising area of Alzheimer's biomarkers because early detection is essential for early intervention and prevention, when new treatments become available. For now, these four studies reported at AAIC point to possible methods of early detection in a research setting to choose study populations for clinical trials of Alzheimer's treatments and preventions," Snyder said.

Clinically, at this time it is only possible to detect Alzheimer's late in its development, when significant brain damage has already occurred. Biological markers of Alzheimer's disease may be able to detect it at an earlier stage. For example, using brain PET imaging in conjunction with a specialized chemical that binds to beta-amyloid protein, the buildup of the protein as plaques in the brain can be revealed years before symptoms appear. These scans can be expensive and are not available everywhere. Amyloid can also be detected in cerebrospinal fluid through a lumbar puncture where a needle is inserted between two bones (vertebrae) in your lower back to remove a sample of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord.

 
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'."

 
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