Category: Conditions

“In the Know” on Men’s Vision

Men's Health Banner

Historically men are less likely than women to go to the doctor and address any health concerns. This month take the time to learn more about how you can maintain healthy vision. When you see an ophthalmologist you will likely be screened for diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Routine vision screenings are essential to maintaining healthy vision, preventing permanent vision loss and even detecting diseases beyond the eye.

3 Systemic Diseases that Manifest in the Eye

Even if you have great vision, seeing a specialist can save your vision and even your life.


#1 Diabetes

Men are at higher risk of developing Type II Diabetes

Changes to retinal blood vessels found in the light sensing tissue in the back of the eye known as the retina, can be early symptoms of diabetes. Detection of bleeding or leaking of these blood vessels can lead to early diagnosis of diabetes which is known to cause a number of eye complications that include conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataracts and glaucoma. If left untreated, many have lost their vision and have even gone blind from this disease. Early detection of diabetes within the eye cannot only prevent vision loss, but a multitude of broader diabetic-related complications such as nerve damage, heart disease and even stroke.


#2 Hypertension

High blood pressure can increase with age but can even occur in men younger then 45

Hypertension or high blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels in your eye and can lead to hypertensive retinopathy. Over time, if high blood pressure is poorly controlled, major vision loss can occur due to damage to retinal blood vessels and even increase your risk for glaucoma. Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Retina specialist, Andrew Moshfeghi MD, MBA, recommends regular eye exams. “Earlier detection of hypertensive retinopathy can alert your physician to the possibility of broader complications of hypertension including heart disease and stroke,” says Moshfeghi.


#3 Cancer

Metastases of lung cancer in and around the eye is more common in men

Breast and lung cancers are the most common primary malignancies that can metastasize to the eye and surrounding tissues. A study recently reported that in multiple cases, detection of eye metastases is often the first indicator of an underlying malignancy. Most notably for men, although relatively rare, prostate cancer can also metastasize to the eye. Regular ophthalmic exams for men in addition to routine physicals, which include prostate exams, are essential, as early detection will lead to better outcomes.

Thus routine eye exams can provide valuable information about your overall health. To schedule a consultation at our Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, or Arcadia location call 323-442-6335.
 

For further information:

1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/keeping-active-healthy-eating-men
2. https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/men-at-higher-risk-for-type-2-diabetes/
3. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm
4. http://bjo.bmj.com/content/bjophthalmol/89/12/1646.full.pdf
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4346676/
6. http://www.ocularmelanoma.org/types-of-eye-cancer.htm

Making a Difference in the Lives of Those We Serve

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For nearly a century, the Braille Institute has been on a mission to eliminate barriers to a fulfilling life caused by blindness and severe vision loss. This goal is made possible by providing an environment of hope and encouragement and teaching its students that life is more than just vision. Each year the Braille Institute serves more than 80,000 people through a variety of free classes, programs and services at six centers and 220 community outreach locations throughout Southern California.

Adults, young adults and children can take advantage of the Braille Institute’s suite of free services, including classes in art, technology, business of living, health and fitness, music and communication. Each center offers a unique schedule tailored to members of the community. A typical weekday could begin with salsa dancing in the morning, followed by personal home management and end with a game of Scrabble with friends in the afternoon. The Braille Institute also brings its services to various communities through the Mobile Solutions vans that travel throughout the region. Perhaps one of the most reputable and beneficial services is the Braille Institute Library, offering more than 100,000 titles and 1.2 million volumes in their collection. The library amenities include a browsing area, patron computer, mini café, and a Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) station.

The Braille Institute offers two seminars a year, focusing on low vision and technology. Vivek Patel, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology and director of neuro-ophthalmology and adult strabismus at the USC Roski Eye Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC, was a guest speaker at the last event. His discussion focused on how USC Roski Eye Institute researchers strive to understand the structural and functional connections of the visual brain. Deeper understanding of the visual brain holds great promise for future innovations. Attendees asked many questions about brain mapping and what is next on the horizon.

We look forward to meeting many of you at the next event in May.
 

Meet Cathy

Cathy was considered legally blind when she was four years old. Cathy has been a Braille student for more than 30 years and speaks very highly of all the classes offered. She loves that each center offers unique programs, allowing her to break out of her comfort zone. Cathy’s favorite center is the Los Angeles location because of the acting classes.
 

Meet Nancy

In 2012, Nancy noticed that her vision was deteriorating. She saw a specialist who diagnosed her with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). After the treatments prescribed by the doctor weren’t helping, she was referred to another specialist who diagnosed her with dry AMD. Nancy decided to reach out to the Braille Institute to utilize their free resources and learn how to adapt to her ever-changing reality. She considers the Braille Institute to be an incredible source of support for her.
 

Meet Beth

Beth has had to undergo countless eye surgeries and corneal transplants. Her optimistic attitude has prevailed in her interactions with her doctors and she is grateful for the care she has received. At the Braille Institute, Beth takes as many art classes as possible and enjoys the support groups where she and other students are able to share their experiences with each other. Beth feels part of a community every time she is at the Braille Institute.

The Latest Advances in Glaucoma that May Help Save your Sight

Q+A session with Dr. Grace Richter

 

Richter Clinic

 

  1. What is Glaucoma and can it make me blind?

Glaucoma affects millions of people worldwide and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Approximately 2.7 million Americans have glaucoma with over half that go undiagnosed.1 Glaucoma is a complex eye condition that damages the optic nerve, which is the nerve that connects the eye to the brain and is responsible for transmitting images to the brain.   It is often accompanied with elevated eye pressure. We treat glaucoma by reducing eye pressure to prevent additional nerve damage. There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma, both of which can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.

 

  1. Are you at risk of getting Glaucoma?

Knowing the risk factors of glaucoma is essential as early diagnosis is key to saving your sight.

General Risk factors include:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Ocular trauma, inflammation of the eye or previous eye surgeries
  • Over the age of 40
  • Suspicious findings on the eye exam

 

Risk factors for open-angle glaucoma include:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Increasing age
  • Nearsightedness
  • African American or Latino ancestry

 

Risk factors for angle-closure glaucoma:

  • Chinese ancestry
  • Farsightedness

 

  1. What are the treatment options?

The only proven way to prevent additional damage to the optic nerve is to lower the eye pressure.  While pressure can be managed by eye drops, patients may also benefit from laser treatments and even surgery. Depending on the type and severity of glaucoma, some patients benefit most from minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS), which has a quicker recovery than traditional glaucoma surgery and can be combined with cataract surgery. Some examples of MIGS procedures2 currently performed at USC include:

 

  • iStent. A 1mm trabecular bypass microstent is inserted into the trabecular meshwork, the natural drainage system of the eye. This improves outflow of fluid from the eye using the natural drainage pathway. This is the smallest implantable device in the human body!
  • Trabectome. A portion of the trabecular meshwork is ablated (removed) to increase outflow of fluid from the eye.
  • Endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation. An endoscopic laser probe is inserted into the eye and used to apply laser to the ciliary body, the part of the eye that produces fluid. The effect is reduced production of fluid in the eye, which lowers eye pressure.
  • Micropulse transcleral cyclophotocoagulation. A micropulse laser probe is applied to the outside of the eye near the ciliary body. The effect is also reduced fluid in the eye.

 

The USC Roski Eye Institute clinical researchers are actively involved in improving glaucoma diagnosis and treatment. Our researchers are also developing novel glaucoma drainage devices, intraocular pressure sensors, as well as drug delivery systems that will improve glaucoma control and quality of life for our glaucoma patients.

 

  1. Which treatment is right for you?

Each glaucoma patient is treated individually with a unique treatment plan considering all clinical factors. After your glaucoma consultation at USC, we will discuss the best treatment options specific to you and your eyes.

 

  1. What lies ahead: new glaucoma treatments on the horizon?

One exciting new device undergoing FDA approval is the XEN gel stent, which was developed in part by USC researchers. This is a promising MIGS device that may provide greater pressure reduction than other minimally invasive treatment options, and will surely be used by the USC glaucoma team in the future.

 

  1. Is there anything you can do to prevent getting Glaucoma?

In general, blindness from glaucoma is preventable through early detection.  If you believe you may be at risk, are over 50 years of age, or have family members with glaucoma, please get your eyes examined with an emphasis on assessing the optic nerve and peripheral vision. In general it is good practice to get regular eye exams.  To make an appointment, please call (323)745-2223.

 

headshot-grace-richter

Dr. Grace Richter is an ophthalmologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She is residency and fellowship trained and a fellow of the Heed Ophthalmic Foundation.

References:
1Vajaranant TS, Wu S, Torres M, Varma, R. Am. J Ophthalmol, 152,2; 303–314.e3.
2 Richter GM, Coleman, AL. Clinical Ophthalmology 2016:10 189-206.

June is Cataract Awareness Month

cataract - USC Roski Eye InstituteIt may come as a surprise to many that among all of the blinding conditions that exist, cataracts are the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. Unfortunately, those who suffer from cataracts in developing nations may not have the access to care and the technology required to diagnose and treat cataracts. Surgical procedures to remove cataracts have evolved considerably and can literally restore vision, within minutes, to individuals who have gone blind from advanced cataracts.

USC Roski Eye institute physicians specializing in cataract surgery have joined forces with international charitable organizations to provide their services. “I feel privileged and honored to be able to use my expertise and training in cataract surgery to restore vision to those blinded by cataracts,” said Jonathan Song, MD, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute and director of the Cataract service. “In my travels to countries like Fiji, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China, Mexico and Latvia, there are no words to describe the impact cataract surgery has on the people I have operated on. Loss of vision can mean a loss of life. People depend on their sight to earn a living and provide for their families,” explains Song.

Our cataract surgeons want you to be aware of the causes, symptoms and treatments available for cataracts. The USC Roski Eye Institute’s Cataract Service is proud to provide the most advanced technology and expertise in cataract removal and intraocular lens replacement.

What is a cataract?

A cataract results when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy and impedes light from entering the eye. The lens is a transparent structure found in the eye that helps bend light to allow it to be precisely focused on the retina. Cataracts generally occur in those over the age of 50, but may be congenital or result from trauma, or specific diseases. The only available treatment for cataracts is surgical removal of the lens and replacement with an intraocular lens implant.

Symptoms of Cataracts

  • Decreasing vision with age
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Seeing halos around bright lights
  • Difficulty distinguishing colors
  • Frequent prescription changes for glasses
  • Difficulty reading

Causes of Cataracts

  • Age
  • Eye trauma
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Glaucoma
  • Some medications including long-term use of oral steroids
  • Sun Exposure

Cataract Surgery: an outpatient procedure

A couple of decades ago, cataract surgery was still considered high risk and associated with long recovery times. Today, cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, which can even allow a patient to operate a vehicle one day after surgery. The procedure itself is extremely safe —involving a microscopic incision through which the cataract is removed and a foldable intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted to replace the clouded lens. The diminished recovery time is the result of the rapid healing of the tiny incision that is made during the time of surgery.

A Major Advancement in Cataract Removal- Custom Laser Cataract Surgery

The USC Roski Eye Institute’s Cataract Service also offers Custom Laser Cataract Surgery, which involves the use of a femtosecond laser to perform essential components of the procedure. Unlike a surgical blade used during traditional cataract surgeries, the advanced technology of a femtosecond laser is effectively able to create a corneal incision, open the lens capsule, and fragment the cataract into small pieces without entering the eye. The laser surgery goes beyond traditional cataract surgery as it allows surgeons to perform additional procedures during the time of cataract removal, resulting in improved vision and less dependence on glasses or bifocals. For example, the laser technique can allow for surgeons to carry out treatment of presbyopia and astigmatism, during the surgical procedure.

This technique is highly advantageous to those who have ocular diseases like glaucoma as well. “We are fortunate that the femtosecond laser technology at the USC Roski Eye Institute has become available to patients with glaucoma. It gives predictable results and does not lead to elevation in eye pressure during post operative recovery,” said Alena Reznik, MD, assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the institute. “Remarkably, we are also able to perform minimally invasive glaucoma surgery at the same time as femtosecond cataract extraction to further decrease recovery time, use of general anesthesia and glaucoma drops in the future,” said Reznik, who is also part of the Glaucoma service.

Our trusted ophthalmologists at the USC Roski Eye Institute are fellowship-trained specialists who provide the most cutting-edge technology in the treatment of cataract removal. If you feel that you are experiencing symptoms related to the development of cataracts, please call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) to make an appointment.

by Debbie Mitra

Next, read about Visual Impairment and Blindness in the U.S.

USC Roski Eye Institute Helps Blind Patient Regain Sight with Two Retinal Implants

Terry Byland and his wife Sue, just before his surgery to implant an Argus II prosthetic device in his left eye.When USC Roski Eye Institute patient Terry Byland fully lost his sight to retinitis pigmentosa at age 45, he never could have imagined what his future had in store. Byland recently became the first person in the world to have to retinal prostheses implanted – one in each eye – restoring some sight and much-needed independence.

“I just can’t get over what I can see, and all the things I’ve seen so far,” Byland said.

The 66-year-old Riverside resident began his journey toward regaining his sight when he participated in a clinical trial for the original retinal prostheses, the Argus I, between 2004 and 2010. The 16-electrode artificial retina was implanted in his right eye on June 23, 2004.

Participating in the initial trial gave Byland new purpose after struggling with not only retiring early and giving up the job he loved, but also losing out on getting to watch his children grow up.

“Terry is a true pioneer,” said Mark Humayun, M.D., Ph.D., co-inventor of the device, who holds joint appointments at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “His work with the first-generation implant helped our team develop the FDA-approved Argus II. For him to enjoy the benefit of this smaller, better device is gratifying.”

On June 22, 2015, Byland received the new 60-electrode Argus II implant by Lisa Olmos de Koo, M.D. at the USC Roski Eye Institute. The Argus II is equipped with software that can be updated as new image processing technology becomes available, allowing Byland to have new features introduced to continually improve his sight.

Combining Medicine and Engineering

The Argus II is revolutionary in that it helps patients identify large letters as well as locate objects using a small video camera, which is mounted to a pair of eyeglasses. The video processing unit then transforms the images picked up by the camera into electronic signals that are wirelessly transmitted to the implant. The prosthesis stimulates visual neurons that send the signals through the optic nerve to the brain, which are interpreted as a visual image.

“The prosthesis allows more independence. And the more independent you are, the happier you are,” said Byland.

The Argus II is the groundbreaking success of a close collaboration between USC Roski Eye Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC, and USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The device is designed to help patients who have suffered blindness as a result of an inherited retinal degenerative disease called retinitis pigmentosa.

Contact an Innovative Ophthalmology Team

The Argus II is available to qualifying patients at the Keck Medical Center of USC. It is important to receive a thorough eye exam from a professional optometrist or ophthalmologist to catch vision problems and get effective treatment. Please do not wait to make an appointment with a skilled ophthalmologist at USC Roski Eye Institute for a comprehensive eye exam using the most state-of-the-art technology available.

Help support our research and innovation by making a tax-deductible gift by contacting Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, at 323.442.5396 or via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu today!

 

What are the Signs of Angle Closure Glaucoma?

USC-Eye-Institute-PasadenaPatients with angle closure glaucoma may first notice intermittent headaches, eye pain, and halos around lights.  Alternatively, they may have an acute angle closure attack, which is accompanied by severe eye pain, headache, blurry vision, and sometimes even nausea and vomiting.  An angle closure attack is a medical emergency and a patient should report to an emergency room or their glaucoma specialist immediately for appropriate treatment.

What is Angle Closure Glaucoma

Glaucoma comprises a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve within the eye.  While eyes with open angle glaucoma have a drainage angle that appears anatomically normal, eyes with angle-closure glaucoma have a drainage angle that is blocked. This leads to elevated eye pressure, which causes damage to the optic nerve.

The following are signs of intermittent angle closure. If you or a loved one experiences one or more of the following symptoms, please see a glaucoma specialist as soon as possible.

  • Blurry or unfocused field of vision
  • Difficulty adjusting to dark rooms
  • Recurring mild pain around or in eyes
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Seeing colorful rings or halos around lights

The following are signs of an angle closure attack.  If you ever experience the symptoms below, please report to an emergency room or contact your on-call glaucoma specialist immediately for vision-saving treatment.

  • Red painful eye
  • Sudden blurring or loss of vision
  • Severe headache
  • Excessive tearing or watering
  • Sudden nausea or vomiting

Who is At Risk for Angle Closure Glaucoma?

The following factors put people at a greater risk of angle closure glaucoma.

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

In order to help spread awareness of this life-changing disease, the expert ophthalmologists at USC Roski Eye Institute would like to encourage people of all ages to share the above information as well as schedule regular eye exams for themselves and their loved ones. At the USC Roski Eye Institute, our exceptional ophthalmologists are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide variety of eye conditions, including glaucoma. To receive a comprehensive eye exam for yourself or a loved one, please complete our online contact form or call 323-348-1526 today!

To learn more about the services at the USC Roski Eye Institute or to support the Institute with a tax-deductible gift, please contact Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.

Next, read What are the Signs of Open Angle Glaucoma?

What are the Signs of Open Angle Glaucoma?

Glaucoma-awarenessAs the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States and the world, glaucoma is a serious group of diseases that is projected to affect nearly 4.2 million Americans by 2030, according to the National Eye Institute. Unfortunately, most people are simply not aware that they have open angle glaucoma until it is too late. Most patients will not feel any pain or notice peripheral visual loss until the disease is extremely advanced. This is the reason that regular eye exams are key to preventing vision loss.  If diagnosed early, there are many treatment options available to prevent vision loss. In order to help spread awareness of this life-changing disease, the expert ophthalmologists at USC Roski Eye Institute would like to encourage people of all ages to share the following information as well as schedule regular eye exams for themselves and their loved ones.

Identifying Open Angle Glaucoma

Glaucoma comprises a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve within the eye.  In some cases, this involves abnormal eye pressure. The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma, in which the drainage angle of the eye appears anatomically normal but still results in eye pressure that is too high for that particular person.

One of the most unfortunate aspects of open angle glaucoma is that the disease typically does not cause symptoms and therefore does not trigger a patient to seek medical help early enough in the disease. Therefore, it is crucial to have your eyes examined on a regular basis by an experienced ophthalmologist to detect the condition and provide treatment if necessary to prevent any additional optic nerve damage.

Who is At Risk for Open Angle Glaucoma?

While the exact cause of glaucoma is not fully understood, the following factors have been found to put certain individuals at a higher risk for the disease than others.  If you or a loved one has any of the risk factors below, or is over the age of 40, schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

  • Family history of Glaucoma
  • Older Age
  • African or Latino ancestry
  • Elevated eye pressure
  • Myopia (Near Sightedness)
  • Thin cornea
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

At the USC Roski Eye Institute, our exceptional ophthalmologists are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide variety of eye conditions, including glaucoma. To receive a comprehensive eye exam for yourself or a loved one, please complete our online contact form or call 323-348-1526 today!

To learn more about the services at the USC Roski Eye Institute or to support the Institute with a tax-deductible gift, please contact Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.

Next, read Literacy Deficiency Found in Children with Uncorrected Farsightedness

USC Study Uncovers New Approach to Treating Dry Eye Syndrome

USC Eye Injury Prevention TipsMillions of people suffer from the discomfort of dry eye syndrome. From irritation, redness, and sensitivity to light, dry eyes can make everyday life uncomfortable, to the say the least. Fortunately, researchers from the Fini Lab at Keck Medicine USC may have found that a possible solution to this overwhelmingly common condition could lie in a tear protein called clusterin.

“It is well known that clusterin protects cells and proteins,” said Shinwu Jeong, assistant professor of research ophthalmology in the Institute for Genetic Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the senior author of the study. “A problem in dry eye appears to be that natural clusterin is depleted. We predicted that adding it back would be beneficial. However, the novel mechanism of sealing was unexpected.”

During the study, researchers noted that clusterin helps seal the ocular surface, creating a protective barrier that helps prevent further damage.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is caused by chronic dehydration and poor lubrication of the ocular surface, causing a disruption of the barrier function. Many people develop dry eye as a result of environmental exposure, allergies, eye surgery, medications, or the effects of aging. While it may seem like a mild irritation, the condition can lead to vision loss if the cornea is scratched or damaged if left untreated long enough. Common symptoms include:

  • Inflammation
  • Burning sensation
  • Aching feeling
  • Soreness
  • Red appearance
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigued eyes

Typically, dry eye symptoms are treated with lubricating eye drops or artificial tears, as well as taking breaks from reading or using a computer or smartphone. Additionally, prescription eye medications may help increase tear production or reduce eye inflammation and irritation, but these treatment options fail to prevent the symptoms from returning.

A Promising Solution

Rather than studying the tear production, inflammation, and chemistry that causes or contributes to dry eyes, the USC researchers focused on the protecting the ocular surface barrier. By strengthening the barrier with clusterin, the researchers hope to not only prevent and treat dry eye, but also other corneal disorders in which the ocular surface barrier is damaged. The researchers were the first to examine how the clusterin tear protein functions in dry eye.

Other USC co-authors include faculty members Wendy Mack of preventive medicine, J. Martin Heur, MD, PhD of ophthalmology and Janet Moradian-Oldak of the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC.

Learn More from USC Roski Eye Institute

If you or someone you love is suffering from dry, irritated eyes or other eye conditions, the USC Roski Eye Institute is committed to providing the solutions to make everyday life easier. To learn more from our renowned ophthalmology team and our treatment options, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (323) 348-1526 or submit a contact form today.

For more information about the USC Roski Eye Institute or to support the Institute by making a tax-deductible gift, please contact Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, at 323.442.5396 or via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu.

Next, read USC Roski Eye Institute Improves Image Sharpness in Retinal Implants

USC Roski Eye Institute Improves Image Sharpness in Retinal Implants

FDA Approved Retinal Prosthesis, Argus IIRetinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited eye disease that causes gradual degeneration of the light sensitive photoreceptors in the retina, which eventually leads to total blindness. Roughly one in 4,000 people suffer from the debilitating disease; however, according to a recent study by researchers from the USC Roski Eye Institute and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, patients who have regained some vision with the help of revolutionary retinal implants may gain even better, sharper vision.

The Argus II retinal implant, also called the bionic eye, was developed by ophthalmologists and engineers at USC to help people once again perceive light through a pair of eyeglasses that feature a video camera mount and a video processing unit. The implant transforms images via the camera into electronic signals that are wirelessly transmitted to implanted electrodes in the eye in order to stimulate visual neurons.

While retinal implants have been able to provide blind individuals with some degree of vision, such as the ability to find large objects or detect motion, the devices also inadvertently triggered axons in the retina, resulting in reduced vision quality. When the axons are triggered, patients would see large, unusual shapes of light that interfere with the patients’ overall vision.

The USC researchers determined that by using various durations of stimulus pulses, it was possible to create more precise stimulus that would not interfere with the axons in the retina nearly as much as with shorter pulses. For example, electrical pulses of only eight milliseconds or shorter would stimulate the axons and obscure the patients’ vision, whereas pulses of at least 25 ms did not produce any signs of axonal stimulation, providing a clearer focal spot of light.

“Our findings further support that it is possible for patients with RP to see forms using artificial vision,” said James Weiland, PhD, professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering. “This makes a strong case for developing high-resolution retinal implants.”

What is Retinitis Pigmentosa?

RP occurs when the light sensitive cells (rods and cones) of the retina on the back of the eye begin to degenerate and die. The condition causes a gradual loss of vision as more and more of the retina cells stop working. The progression of RP will depend on which rods and cones are affected first. Some patients experience night blindness initially, while others may notice a decrease in central vision and color. The rate of progression will also depend largely on each patient.

Contact Our Expert Ophthalmologists Today

To protect your vision and ensure the highest quality of care, schedule an annual eye exam with the professional ophthalmologists at USC Roski Eye Institute. Regular screenings and exams will help accurately catch potential issues that may develop into serious eye conditions, such as retinitis pigmentosa. Take preventative action early. Make an appointment with a skilled ophthalmologist today.

Help support the USC Roski Eye Institute by making a tax-deductible gift! Contact Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, at 323.442.5396 or via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu today!

Next, read Prescription Medication May Help Reverse Vision Loss Caused by Diabetic Eye Disease in Certain Populations

Prescription Medication May Help Reverse Vision Loss Caused by Diabetic Eye Disease in Certain Populations

Diabetes and EyesA common prescription medication for age-related vision loss called ranibizumab may hold the key to successfully treating vision loss caused by diabetes in Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, according to a recent study led by researchers at USC Roski Eye Institute.

Currently, the standard treatment for diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy, which are the leading causes of vision loss in working-age adults in the U.S, is typically laser surgery. Unfortunately, laser surgery has had relatively low success in treating the blurred vision of more advanced stages of diabetic eye diseases. Previous studies have found that only 30 percent of patients who underwent laser surgery experienced vision improvement.

What are Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema?

Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in distorted vision or blindness. The condition progresses through four stages, in which the tiny blood vessels swell, potentially bleed, become blocked, and increase in number, ultimately damaging the cells of the retina if not treated.

Diabetic macular edema occurs when fluid builds up in the central region of the retina called the macula. The macula helps provide sharp, clear details and allows people to recognize faces and read. This condition develops as a result of diabetic retinopathy and can occur at any stage.

The symptoms of both of these diabetic eye diseases include seeing floating spots, blurred vision, or total vision loss.

Groundbreaking Research

Using a population-based model, director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, professor and chair of ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Interim Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Rohit Varma, M.D., M.P.H., and his research team determined that providing at least .3 milligrams of the prescription medication ranibizumab every four weeks to patients with diabetic macular edema could reduce the number of vision loss cases by at least 45 percent and the number of legal blindness cases by up to 75 percent.

Nearly 37,000 Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adults who had been diagnosed with diabetic macular edema in the U.S. participated in the study. The researchers believe that even more populations and ethnic groups may benefit from the vision-saving effects of ranibizumab.

“We found that ranibizumab can save the sight of thousands of working-age individuals suffering from diabetic eye disease, as standard treatments such as laser are not as effective,” said Dr. Varma.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Our expert ophthalmologists at USC Roski Eye Institute have extensive training and experience diagnosing and treating a wide variety of vision-threatening conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. To receive a comprehensive exam and ensure that your eyesight is carefully monitored, please complete our online contact form or call 323-348-1526 today! Remember that annual eye exams are an essential step in long-term eye care.

To learn more about our services or to support the Institute with a tax-deductible gift, please contact Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.

Next, read February is National AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month