Monthly Archive for: ‘February, 2012’

Medical Card Applications

Medical card holders, unfortunately the waiting time to have a Medical Card authorised for an eye examination remains ridiculously high! The wait was up to nine weeks at the end of 2011, but they may now be reducing- at the moment they seem to be taking 6 weeks or so. This is beyond our control, as is the fact that we are not allowed to see anyone under the scheme without an authorised application form.

You can try to contact the Optical Department in Railway Street, Navan to enquire as to the progress of your application-  (046) 9076432, best of luck with that- apparently they are often too busy to answer the phone these days.

And then- had someone in on Wednesday (22nd) who’s form was received in Navan on 17th February and authorised 3 days later!

Stem Cell ARMD Clinical Trials

Researchers have recently begun trials to investigate the safety of a stem cell derived treatment for Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD, ARMD). The treatment involves  implanting replacement retinal pigment epithelial cells derived from human embryos. Already there has been some success, with both subjects reported on experiencing an improvement in vision. The trial is continuing, with more subjects being treated. The main aim at the moment for this trial is to determine if this way of treating ARMD is safe- stem cells could differentiate into any cell type, so there is a risk of a type of tumour called a teratoma, though as the researchers have implanted cells which have already been differentiated (they have already been told to be Retinal Pigment Epithelial (RPE) Cells), hopefully this risk will be minimal.

If successful, this treatment will be most useful to prevent damage to the retinal photoreceptor layer. The photoreceptors require support from the RPE, and become damaged after the RPE becomes damaged. Therefore this treatment may in future be a preventative, but may restore some function in more advanced cases.

The full article can be downloaded here;

CibaVision Alcon Merger

With the recent merger of Novartis with Alcon, CibaVision were told to divest one of their multi purpose solutions, and they chose to spin off SoloCare Aqua, to a french company. As of April 1st 2012, Ciba will cease to supply Solocare solutions bundled in Contact Lens+Solutions Valuepacks.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with SoloCare, but my personal preference would be an OptiFree solution by Alcon, as some wearers can be sensitive to Polyhexanide, a disinfecting agent present in most multipurpose solutions, and present in SoloCare. Alcon solutions are polyhexanide free, and were cost not an issue, I would have recommended OptiFree to all my patients, but many had no issues with SoloCare, and we get a great deal when ordering a valuepack of lenses and solutions together- this saves you money, if you can use SoloCare.

From April 1st, Ciba will start bundling their lenses with OptiFree Puremoist, a polyhexanide free solution. This is good news for all our patients who currently cannot receive the Valuepack discount, and for the majority who have no issues with SoloCare, the extra moisturising agents in the solution should keep them even more comfortable, from insertion to removal.

The bundle will include lenses (obviously) 2x300ml bottles of OptiFree PureMoist, 3 cases and an extra 90ml travel bottle- handy for carry on luggage.

Eating Grapes

New research indicates that Grapes are the latest food to be found to help prevent Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD or AMD).

Superfoods such as blueberries, pomegranates, spinach and broccoli all confer protection because they are rich in anti-oxidants, but now grapes may be added to the list- they have been found to be as effective as lutein supplements in ARMD prevention!

A balanced diet is proving to be one of the most effective preventatives of ARMD, and while dietary supplements have been proven to be very successful, perhaps those with a very good diet would not have the problem and therefore not require the supplements?

More information on the grapes here

Retinitis Pigmentosa & Gene Therapy

There have been a couple of promising trials published this week on the treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa using gene therapy.

One team in Pennsylvania  managed to prevent or even reverse this blinding condition in a dog, while a Florida trial has succeeded (in animals so far) to deliver the altered genes via a virus, and show that they go and have the desired effect in the area required.

Human trials are still some way off, but there is hope for RP sufferers and their families in the future.

More information at the links below.

Researchers Develop Gene Therapy That Could Correct A Common Form Of Blindness

Retinitis Pigmentosa In Dogs Cured By Gene Therapy




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