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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)442-6335 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)442-6335 or via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu.

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

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

Today’s Cutting-Edge Advancements in Glaucoma Treatment

Diabetes and Eyes, Jet-Setting Health and MoreThe USC Roski Eye Institute has always been on the forefront of the latest advancements in glaucoma treatment. Our exceptional team of ophthalmologists have helped pioneer many of the life-changing treatment options now available for one of the most common causes of preventable blindness in the U.S. and worldwide.Interim Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, Director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, and glaucoma expert, Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, has not only led the way in improving glaucoma treatments, but he has also co-authored and co-edited several textbooks on the subject, including the recently released Advanced Glaucoma Surgery, to help provide a comprehensive source of cutting-edge information regarding advanced glaucoma surgical techniques for other ophthalmologists, researchers, and students.

The Glaucoma Service at the USC Roski Eye Institute offers comprehensive care and treatment for the full range of glaucoma conditions. The following are some of the most state-of-the-art advancements available for preventing, diagnosing, and treating the group of diseases that make up glaucoma.

Glaucoma Drainage Devices

The USC Roski Eye Institute researchers have developed an effective alternative to trabeculectomies and tube shunts that have traditionally been used to relieve intraocular pressure (IOP) issues that damage the optic nerve. The stent is no wider than a human hair and consists of collagen-derived gelatin. The stent can be safely injected into the eye to allow the eye’s anterior chamber to continue circulating and draining fluid in the inner eye. The glaucoma stents, such as iStent, can be implanted within a matter of minutes.

Intraocular Pressure Sensors

Researchers at the USC Roski Eye Institute are also currently working on novel intraocular pressure sensors that would be implanted in the eye to accurately and continuously measure IOP on a daily basis. While it is possible to gauge intraocular pressure during an eye exam, the internal pressure of the eye changes regularly throughout a single day. If the pressure raises too high, even temporarily, the optic nerve can be damaged, leading to vision loss. An intraocular pressure sensor would track an individual’s IOP and transmit the information to a wireless receiver for an ophthalmologist to analyze and monitor for signs of glaucoma.

Drug Delivery Systems

Glaucoma is a chronic eye disease that can be managed or slowed down with certain medications depending on the patient. However, administering the appropriate medication on a consistent basis, especially as eye drops, can be difficult for many patients. The USC Roski Eye Institute researchers have developed a minuscule implantable pump that can deliver medication at regular intervals directly into the eye. The implant is refillable and can be programmed and recharged with the convenience of a wireless device.

Advancing Eye Care at USC Roski Eye Institute

The board-certified ophthalmologists at the USC Roski Eye Institute are experienced at diagnosing and treating glaucoma as well as conducting clinical trials to help advance eye care treatments to prevent vision loss. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by completing our online contact form or simply calling (323) 745-2223. We are located in Los Angeles, Arcadia, Beverly Hills, and Pasadena.

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 Find Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Glaucoma Awareness Month

Diabetes and the Eye

Diabetes Eye Disease USCDiabetes is a group of metabolic diseases related to high blood glucose (blood sugar) as a result of inadequate insulin production or the body’s inability to respond to insulin. People who are overweight, have a family history of the disease, or have high blood pressure are more at risk of developing diabetes, especially over the age of 45. In addition to causing heart trouble, nerve damage, and kidney disease, diabetes is also the number one cause of blindness among Americans.

Unfortunately, many diabetics and those at risk of developing the disease are not aware of the potentially blinding effects of diabetes. In order to help increase awareness for proper eye health among diabetics and preventative measures for those at risk, USC Roski Eye Institute has compiled the following vital information.

What is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetes can affect people by causing early cataracts and severe glaucoma.  The most common and serious condition caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema (DME).  DME manifests from diabetic retinopathy and results in swelling in an area of the retina called the macula.

Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina, which is the light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye that helps register and process images. As the disease progresses, the blood vessels may swell and leak, become blocked, or form abnormal vessels on the surface of the retina. When the delicate blood vessels inside the retina are damaged, the retina itself can become distorted or can detach, resulting in permanent vision loss. “Many patients with diabetes have subtle early changes on their exam which may never manifest in permanent vision loss, if treated early by tighter blood sugar control in cooperation with their diabetes doctor or sometimes using clinic based eye procedures such as laser photocoagulation,” says Dr. Damien Rodger MD, PhD, one of the vitreoretinal surgeons and uveitis specialists at the USC Roski Eye Institute. “However, if these patients are seen later in the course of their eye disease, they often need more complicated surgeries to reattach their retinas, which can often prevent further visual decline but may not improve their vision dramatically. Early screening as part of their overall diabetes care is critical in decreasing the burden of diabetic eye disease.”

Steps to Prevent Diabetic Eye Disease

One of the most important things to understand about diabetic eye problems is that there are typically no noticeable symptoms during the early stages of development. While it is possible to treat cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, vision loss can be reduced or prevented more effectively when diagnosed as soon as possible. Once the signs and symptoms become apparent, the risk of significant vision loss becomes more substantial.

Signs of diabetic retinopathy can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Spots or strings floating in your vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Black areas in your vision
  • Vision loss

If you have type I or type II diabetes, it is crucial that you maintain strict control of your blood pressure and blood sugar levels in addition to seeing an ophthalmologist for at least yearly eye exams and diabetic retinopathy screenings, if not more frequently depending on the results of your assessment or treatment.

It is highly recommended that those who do not have diabetes continue to schedule complete eye exams every one to three years, and schedule more frequent exams as they get older and depending on their potential risk factors.

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

The exceptional eye doctors at USC Roski Eye Institute are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide variety of eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy. To receive a comprehensive eye exam and ensure that your vision is protected from diabetes-related conditions, please complete our online contact form or call 323-442-6335 today!

To learn more about the health 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 How Reliable are Online Eye Exams?

What Can You Do to Help Your Eyes Age in a Healthy Manner?

USC Department of Ophthalmology Beverly HillsWhile it is common for eyesight to change as one gets older, it is important to note that severe changes, such as vision loss or blindness, can be prevented. When it comes to aging, many people know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential for keeping the body and mind active and vibrant longer; however, eye health is often overlooked. In an effort to promote strong, healthy vision for the years to come, the expert ophthalmologists at the renowned USC Roski Eye Institute would like to encourage people of all ages to adopt the following eye-healthy habits.

Common Age-Related Eye Conditions

Typically around the ages of 40 or 50, many people begin to need prescription glasses or contacts as different components of the eye begin to deteriorate from wear and tear or developing diseases. The most common age-related eye issues include:

Age-Related Macular Degeneration – A disease in which the macula at the center of the retina in the eye, which provides central vision and sharp details, begins to deteriorate. The disease takes two forms: Dry or Wet. Dry macular degeneration occurs when yellow deposits form under the retina, causing the macula to become irreversibly thinner and weaker. Wet macular degeneration occurs when yellow deposits and abnormal blood vessels develop under the retina, resulting in the blood vessels leaking.

Glaucoma – A set of vision disorders that cause increased pressure in the eye because the fluid within the eye does not fill and drain properly.

Cataracts – A condition in which the water and protein molecules that keep the lens of the eye clear become cloudy, blocking the light from reaching the retina in the back of the eye.

Maintaining Healthy Vision as You Age

It is not always possible to completely treat conditions that affect the eyes, so it is important to take precautionary measures to prevent diseases or disorders from developing in the first place. The most important tips for protecting eyesight include the following:

Quit Smoking – Smoking cigarettes or even prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke can be just as damaging to your eyesight as too much exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun.

Eat a Healthy Diet – While also beneficial for your overall health and wellness, a diet full of leafy greens, fresh fruits, and Omega-3 fish oil can strengthen and improve eyesight by decreasing inflammation and reducing the risk of eye conditions.

Exercise – Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, which are also linked to serious eye disease.

Wear Proper Sunglasses – The ultraviolet rays of the sun can contribute to macular degeneration as well as cataracts and other eye conditions. Always wear sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection and even wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield your eyes from damaging UV rays.

Drink Plenty of Water – The eyes needs to stay hydrated to prevent injury or wear and tear. Drinking about 64 ounces of water helps the muscles of the eye function properly while also keeping the eyes lubricated.

Apply a Warm Compress – Placing a warm washcloth over your closed eyes for about 10 minutes will help stimulate and unblock the oil glands in the eye that keep the eyes moist and healthy.

Reduce Eye Strain – Activities, such as working on a computer or playing video games, can put significant strain on your eye muscles. Remember to take regular breaks throughout the day, reduce bright light in your workplace, and wear prescription eyewear while working or studying if recommended by your ophthalmologist.

Practice Safe Hygiene with Contact Lenses – Always protect your eyes from contact lens-related infections by washing your hands before touching contact lenses, use only fresh disinfecting solution on contacts after they are removed, keep the contact lens case clean and dry after every use, and remove contacts before sleeping.

Get Regular Eye Exams – The best way to ensure that your eye-healthy habits are protecting your eyes is to see a skilled ophthalmologist on a regular basis to conduct a thorough eye exam. Early detection is key for restoring and preserving vision in the long run.

Schedule an Appointment Today

At the USC Roski Eye Institute, our exceptional doctors are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide variety of eye conditions. To receive a comprehensive eye exam and ensure that your vision is protected from age-related issues, please complete our online contact form or call 323-442-6335 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 Keep Computer Use from Causing Eye Strain with These Helpful Tips

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