Monthly Archive for: ‘April, 2013’

Lazy Eye Treatment – using video games!

TETRIS

Treatment for lazy eyes has for years focused on patching the good eye to force the brain to use the weaker eye. This does work, particularly when the lazy eye is caught at a young enough age – by 7 or 8 years of age, the visual system is adult like and pretty much fully developed. At this age, patching needs to be done more aggressively, the improvement is often slower, and the result less effective than in a younger person.

Patching forces the brain to pay attention to the lazy eye, but only when the good eye is wearing the patch- as soon as the favoured eye is uncovered, the brain will usually revert to ignoring the lazy eye.

Recently scientists is two centres have found that video games, which have been adapted to show part of the display to one eye and other parts to the other eye are showing a remarkable improvement over traditional methods. For example the Canadian team used a modified Tetris game, where the blocks which had fallen were visible with one eyes, but the falling block was only visible with the other eye- this would require both eyes to work together to have any chance of a decent score.

Any video game type could be adapted – a racing car visible to one eye, the track only visible to the other eye.

These have the advantage of trying to train the brain to use both eyes at the same time, something that may continue after the “therapy” is over, which is not the case with traditional patching.

With early findings such as in these studies, more research is necessary, but there may in the near future be another better treatment for lazy eyes- another study in 2011 found that there was a marked improvement, even in adults with only 40 hours of game time. This study was gaming with patching – perhaps gaming without patching would be more effective.

BBC report on the Canadian Study and the Glasgow Caledonian Study– again reported by the BBC.

Radiation therapy treatment for Wet AMD

An eye with late stage exudative AMD

Recent trials studying the effect of radiation therapy on the macular area show promise as another method of treating neovascular (Wet) Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). The two methods which have been looked at differ significantly in the way they deliver the radiation.
The method which hit the news in the last few weeks uses the IRay machine, a low voltage xray machine which delivers xrays to the macular area through three beams which are shone into the eye through the lower sclera (white of the eye). One of the first studies from Mexico reported that over 12 months, patients treated by this method required less anti vegF injections than the control group. This could mean that treating AMD may be cheaper in the future, and hopefully therefore treatment may become more widely available.
More information on the AMD treatments are available on this page, and the Mexico study mentioned is available to read here. (You will need to login or register (free) to see it.

Microbial Keratitis – minimise your risk

An eye with Microbial Keratitis.

A recent study has shown that the risks of Contact Lens related adverse effects are no lower in Silicone Hydrogel (SiH) contact lenses than in more traditional HEMA lower oxygen performance lenses. The study found that there may actually be an increase in adherence of bacteria on SiH lenses compared to HEMA.

SiH lenses are still better for the health of the eyes, because they allow so much more Oxygen through to the cornea, meaning that there are less restrictions in wear time than traditional soft lenses. Unfortunately most people do overwear HEMA lenses, which can cause changes in the cornea. Though many of these corneal changes are not permanent, and they are up to a point acceptable in a HEMA lens wearer, they are still undesirable.

Contact Lens wear is safe, but this study highlights the importance of always giving the contact lenses a rub and rinse before storing them in fresh solution overnight, and also reinforces the fact that sleeping in contact lenses, even occasionally, is riskier than not doing it.

The article can be read in full here, you may need to register or login to view it.

Macular Pigment Density and Dietary Supplements

Dry AMD

Dry AMD It has been accepted for a while now that dietary supplements containing antioxidant vitamins and minerals can have a significant benefit to slowing down the progression of Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). It has also been noted that certain pigments which are found in a normal macula (the area at the back of the eye responsible for acute vision) become depleted in AMD patients.

These pigments have a protective mechanism- they are also antioxidants, and their colour seems to filter out some of the more damaging rays which might reach the retina. Many tablet supplements have for a long time included these pigments in their formula, on the assumption that restoring these pigments to the macular area must be a good thing. There has been a long term debate whether ingesting these pigments in a tablet would have any beneficial effect- would they even be deposited back in the macula??

A recent study in Germany found that supplements do increase the amount of pigments in the blood stream, and that they do also deposit in the macular area. The next investigation is to establish if replacing these macular pigments is actually of any benefit- is the loss of pigment a result of AMD or the cause?

Studies are continuing- around the world and in Ireland to look at the effects of these pigments in both healthy eyes and in eyes with AMD, but for the moment we would recommend that tablet supplements containing anti-oxidant vitamins, minerals and pigments do seem to have enough of a benefit to advise their use, if there are early signs of Macular problems.

A healthy diet rich in the “superfood” -fruits, nuts, fish and vegetables may be another, perhaps better option for prevention- they say you shouldn’t throw multivitamins at a bad diet!

The German report can be found here- you may need to register (it is free) or login to see it.

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