Category: Helpful Tips

As COVID-19 Disrupts Education, Ophthalmology Residents Adapt

COVID Residents
Pictured above: Three of our many ophthalmology residents, all of whom continue their education amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Eric Weintraub

When Dr. Charles DeBoer, a second-year resident in the USC Department of Ophthalmology, learned that barrier shields meant to protect patients and physicians from COVID-19 droplet transfer were nationally backordered, he spent his own time and personal resources to build PPE customized for ophthalmic exams.

“I saw a barrier shield design in the paper, ‘Stepping up infection control measures in ophthalmology during the novel coronavirus outbreak: an experience from Hong Kong (2020)’ and thought the way they implemented infection control made sense,” said Dr. DeBoer. “So I copied it for our clinics and we refined the design.” In collaboration with co-resident Dr. Diana Lee and two attending physicians, Drs. Vivek Patel and Annie Nguyen, Dr. DeBoer created barrier shields out of polycarbonate sheets for slit lamps, the microscopes used to look into patients’ eyes.

Dr. DeBoer’s barrier shields now enable physicians to examine a patient closely while still reducing the risk of infection for them both at LAC+USC Medical Center (LAC+USC) and Keck Medical Center (KMC) ophthalmology clinics. This is only one example of how residents are adapting within the drastically disrupted learning environment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

barrier shield slit lamp
Dr. DeBoer demonstrates how to assemble a slit lamp barrier shield.

In addition, residents are continuously implementing the latest COVID-19 industry responses provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). They are strengthening their history taking skills to learn more about their patients’ health histories, and have increased in-depth provider-to-provider discussions with their fellow residents, fellows, and faculty. Furthermore, residents are learning how to use new technology to provide telehealth services to meet patient needs.

“Telehealth allows us to perform a quick external exam of a patient’s eye,” said Dr. Hong-Uyen Hua, a second-year resident. “While it does not allow for a full assessment, it can help patients avoid in-office visits for non-urgent issues.”

Dr. Hua elaborated that patients often call with eye problems that can be resolved over the phone. Several patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have called with concern that they are developing an eye infection, as well. “In this situation, we ensure that the patient has no vision-threatening issues. We educate and counsel them on supportive care, emphasize the importance of social distancing, and make sure they practice good hygiene. As a result, we minimize exposure for everyone.”

Several residents expressed their belief that COVID-19 will permanently affect the ophthalmology landscape and that it has opened the door for telemedicine to play a more frequent role in the field.

Due to the California Governor’s Executive Order, as well as LA County requirements, clinic volume has been drastically limited to only treating patients with emergency eye conditions. The residency program has taken additional measurements to decrease the likelihood of a COVID-19 infection by having residents rotate in teams at LAC+USC, one week on and one week. In addition, KMC clinics are only seeing urgent patients and all elective surgeries have been canceled. Due to these changes, residents are not rotating in Keck clinics.

“The education and experience we get from seeing patients and operating on them has drastically declined,” said Dr. Ravi Shah, a third-year resident and co-chief resident. “This is likely going to affect different years of residents in different ways. For those that take advantage of the time to continue learning, it may be beneficial for them. But without that motivation, knowledge will quickly atrophy.”

Dr. Shah shared that away from clinic, residents are reading journal articles to stay updated on their respective fields and studying for their annual Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAP) exams. In addition, the residency program’s education curriculum has quickly shifted to online learning. All faculty lectures and Grand Rounds continue to be conducted via Zoom.

Despite the disruption that COVID-19 has caused to the residents’ training, they share great pride in their colleagues’ resilience. “Too often likened to war, this pandemic has heroic troops battling this microscopic, insidious enemy every day,” said Dr. Hua. “When we chose medicine as a career, no healthcare worker imagined we would have to risk our own lives to save others. I am in awe of all of my colleagues on the frontline. I feel re-affirmed in my decision to choose medicine as a career and vocation during this unprecedented pandemic.”

Ask the Expert: How COVID-19 Affects the Eyes

Interviewed by Eric Weintraub, Additional Expertise Contributions by Dr. Brian Toy

With healthcare information changing daily amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, little attention has been given to its effect on one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies: the eyes. To provide an update, Dr. Annie Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Assistant Director of the Cornea & Refractive Surgery Fellowship at the USC Roski Eye Institute, answers frequently asked questions about whether our eyes are vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

If COVID-19 droplets land in your eye, are you susceptible to infection?

The evidence of ocular transmission has not been well studied. However, mucous membranes, which line many body cavities and organs including the respiratory tract, are most susceptible to the novel coronavirus and viruses in general. The surface of the eye and inner eyelids are also lined by mucous membrane called the conjunctiva. Therefore, if infected droplets land in your eye, you are possibly susceptible to the infection.

The mode of COVID-19 transmission is still believed to be primarily through respiratory droplets from person-to-person. However, the virus can also live on surfaces up to a few days; therefore touching an infected surface, then touching your eyes, noses or mouth without washing your hands may lead to infection.

Can cleaning the eyes with water or over the counter eyedrops decrease the chance of infection?

The ocular surface has its own protective mechanisms, including antimicrobial proteins and natural lubrication. Therefore, routine cleaning or flushing of the eyes with water is not necessary and may actually strip away some of the ocular surface’s natural protective barriers, leading to increased risk of infection.

If your eyes become irritated or red, using over-the-counter artificial tears may help alleviate your symptoms. If symptoms are persistent, you should contact your eye care provider.

Is it true that contact wearers have a higher risk of infection for COVID-19?

With proper hygiene, there is no evidence that wearing contact lenses in itself increases your risk of infection for COVID-19. However, contact lens wearers touch their eyes more often than the average person. If you have a tendency to touch or rub your eyes, it may be best to switch to glasses temporarily, given risk of transmission from rubbing without proper hand hygiene. Also, glasses minimize risk of irritation from contact lens wear and also serve as a barrier that forces you to pause before touching your eyes.

Although not that best protection, glasses can also serve as a partial shield from respiratory droplets. If you do continue contact lens wear, make sure you carefully adhere to contact lens hygiene and wash your hands. If you develop redness or irritation, please discontinue contact lens wear and contact your eye doctor.

Is it true that pink eye is an early sign of COVID-19?

Yes, pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, has been reported to be a possible sign of infection from COVID-19. It is still uncertain exactly what percentage of patients with COVID-19 have ocular manifestations and different sources are reporting different numbers.

Although a recent study in JAMA Ophthalmology reported up to one-third of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had ocular abnormalities, more studies are still needed. Of course, causes of conjunctivitis that are not COVID-19 related continue to persist.

Can COVID-19 cause temporary or permanent damage to your eyes (perhaps from lack of oxygen)?

Although conjunctivitis, which is a temporary condition, has been linked to COVID-19, at this point permanent eye damage from COVID-19 has not been reported. If a patient were in respiratory distress long enough, theoretically poor perfusion and oxygen deprivation could lead to possible damage to metabolically active tissues, such as the optic nerve or retina, but this has yet to be reported in COVID-19 related cases. In this instance, eye damage would be caused by decreased oxygen, rather than the virus itself.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through tear droplets and is this something to worry about?

Transmission through infected ocular tissue or fluid has been controversial. Novel coronavirus has been detected in tear samples in a small number of cases. Given the presence of viral particles, it is, therefore, possible to transmit COVID-19, although the risk is likely low. However, the infectivity or clinical significance is not known and additional studies are needed at this time.

What precautions should you take if you are on immunosuppressive medications?

Patients who are immunosuppressed may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, so it is important to adhere to physical distancing measures to minimize risk. Please discuss potential modification of your medication regimen with your physician (uveitis specialist or rheumatologist). In most cases of patients who are not ill, the risk of vision loss from uncontrolled eye inflammation is greater than the possible increased risk of acquiring COVID-19.

Dr. Nguyen closed the interview by reminding us that the COVID-19 situation is always evolving and we are learning more about the virus every day. Please contact your primary care physician if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. If you have irritation or pain in the eye or difficulty seeing, please reach out to an eye care provider.

Dr. Nguyen based much of the information from this interview on what she learned in the following sources:

Blindness from Cataracts? Five Questions Answered

1. Did you know that cataracts are the leading cause of preventable blindness in the US and even worldwide?

Caused by a clouding of the lens in the eye, cataracts can result in vision loss and have a major impact on quality of life. Cataract-related visual impairment can take away a person’s independence and ability to do every day tasks like drive, cook, or even read.

2. Who is at risk and what are the causes?

Cataracts are not just found in the elderly. Although it may not affect vision at this stage, early signs of cataracts can occur from age 40 and up. Cataracts become progressive and debilitating with age, where almost half of Americans are estimated to have cataracts by the age of 65. Through population-based studies, USC Roski clinicians have also found that a projected 180,000 U.S. Latinos aged 40 and over nationwide have an unmet need for cataract surgery.

Cataracts can be caused by many factors including diseases such as diabetes, exposure to UV light or even smoking and alcohol use. Obesity, high blood pressure, eye injury, or surgery can also result in cataracts.

3. What are the signs?

It is important to recognize the signs. An eye exam is essential if you see halos of light, blurred or poor vision at night, double vision in a single eye or fading yellow of colors. In general, while these symptoms could be related to cataracts, visiting a skilled eye specialist for an evaluation is key to ensuring healthy vision.

4. How to prevent cataracts?

Healthy vision can come from leading a health lifestyle. Quit smoking, eat a well-balanced diet and take care of your health issues by seeing a physician regularly.

5. Cataract surgery – what to expect?

USC Roski cataract surgeons offer the latest advanced technology in cataract extraction. Typically cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, lasting 30-60 minutes. Cataract surgery entails performing a lens exchange; the surgeon replaces the cloudy cataract lens with a clear lens implant.

In addition to standard lenses, we also offer our patients a large selection of premium lenses that are customizable including, mutifocal, toric and accommodative lenses. USC Roski Eye offers a minimally invasive technique such as femtosecond laser cataract surgery (custom laser cataract surgery) procedure, which allows for more precision in lens removal and gives surgeons the opportunity to treat corneal astigmatism at the time of cataract surgery.

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

Please contact our USC Roski Eye Institute cataract specialists today if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above. The exceptional eye doctors at USC Roski Eye Institute 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 please complete our online contact form or call 323-442-6335 today!

  • Richter GM et al. Prevalence of Visually Significant Cataract and Factors Associated with Unmet Need for Cataract Surgery: Los Angeles Latino Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2009, 116: 2327-2335.

Harmful UV Light Can Cause Eye Damage & Blindness

What do all of these conditions have in common? UV light, UVA, UVB and UVC, is powerful radiation from the sun that can damage your eyes.

Type of Ocular Condition Image
Photokeratitis– Caused by swelling of the cornea, outer most aspect of the eye, results in redness, swelling, blurred vision and pain.
Pinguecula– Often referred to as surfer’s eye, white or yellow raised bumps are found on the conjunctiva, or white part of the eye.
Pterygium– This growth extends beyond the conjunctiva and on to the cornea, and many require surgery. This condition is often found in those who live closer to the equator.
Cataracts– As the leading cause of preventable blindness, this condition which can be removed surgically, results in a cloudiness of the lens of the eye and cause blurred vision, halos of light, poor vision at night, among other symptoms.
Macular Degeneration– With no known cure, this retinal degenerative disease results in central vision loss, where those diagnosed are unable to drive, read or even recognize faces.
Skin Cancer– Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are all examples of skin cancers. Most are found on the lower lid. 5-10% of all skin cancers are melanomas.
Eye Cancer– Eye cancers include intraocular melanoma and conjunctival melanoma. While rare, conjunctival melanoma has become more common, with 10% prevalence among white men.

Tips to Protect Your Eyes from the Sun and Prevent Sun Damage!

  • Ensure you purchase sunglasses with the UV protection label
  • Make sure they fit well to prevent exposure to residual sunlight
  • Bring a pair with you wherever you go!

UV damage can lead to serious skin and eye cancer. Looks for lumps or bumps, pigmentation, elevated growths, bleeding, etc. Any of these symptoms could be a sign of melanoma.

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

Please contact our USC Roski ocular oncology team today if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above. The exceptional eye doctors at USC Roski Eye Institute 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 please complete our online contact form or call 323-442-6335 today!

Sunglasses, Sunglasses, Sunglasses!

A great pair of sunglasses goes a long way! We have two conveniently located optical shops on campus to help you find your perfect pair. No appointment necessary! If you’re looking for prescription sunglasses, our on-site lab can have your lenses ready in as little as 24 hours!

LASIK Testimonial: When the Doctor Becomes the Patient

Berry LASIK cover final

So….eye doctors, in general, don’t get Lasik. Or Lasek. Most of them have seen too many contact lens complications to even wear those. When you deal with all the complications you tend to forget about the 99.99% of people who do just fine. Recently, USC Roski Eye Institute’s Dr. Jesse Berry decided to take the plunge and get LASIK (as the residents looked on with wide-eyed wonderment). Her only regret? She didn’t do it sooner!

Dr. Berry took a moment to sound off with us below:


Why did you decide to get LASIK?

Mostly because I was sick of being attached to contact lenses and glasses. With my too-busy professional women life balancing work and personal life, I was also wearing contacts for 18 hours a day, most days of the week. My eyes started to be irritated by them and I wasn’t willing to be dependent on glasses so I looked for alternatives.


Who did your procedure?

One of USC Roski Eye Institute’s voluntary faculty members, Dr. Gregg Feinerman, while he was hosting a refractive surgery seminar for the residents.


How long did the procedure last?

The procedure was about seven minutes per eye! It was so fast, completely painless, and I saw better IMMEDIATELY after.


What was recovery like?

I operated the next day! Before LASIK without glasses or contact lenses beforehand I was 20/400 or worse, I was about 20/60 immediately after. I felt a little scratchy but pretty ok. By the time I went to bed I was 20/30 and I woke up 20/15 (I am not even kidding!)


Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

100%. My only regret is that I didn’t do it earlier! It has changed my whole life and I am so happy to not be linked to contacts all the time!


To learn more about Dr. Berry’s journey, please click here.
Dr_Berry_New_Headshot-MF (1)

Dr. Jesse Berry is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute, and specializes in ocular oncology, melanoma, and retinoblastoma.

Poor Mascara Removal Leads to Eye Lesions and Serious Infection

Clumpy Mascara final

For over 25 years, a woman admitted to using excessive mascara each day without completely removing it at night before she slept. Complaining of feelings that something was in her eye, the 50-year-old sought help from her ophthalmologist. After a thorough eye exam, the ophthalmologist discovered dark pigmented depositions on the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane lining the inside of the eyelid. In addition, the ophthalmologist noted eye lesions or sub-conjunctival concretions. Following a biopsy of the conjunctiva, results of which were published in the American Academy of Ophthalmology, physicians found deposits of mascara as well as evidence of conjunctivitis or infection.
“It is important to ensure you wash your hands and clean around your eyes regularly to prevent infections from occurring. Having treated cases like this often, infections can lead to very serious consequences and in some cases even vision loss,” says Charles Flowers, MD, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at USC Roski Eye Institute and cornea specialist.

Tips to Preventing Eye Infections

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes or face
  • Do not share your makeup, face towels, or any eye drops
  • Remove your makeup thoroughly before bed and do not reuse make up if you have had an eye infection to prevent it from reoccurring
  • Thoroughly clean your contact lenses, store in clean containers, and use fresh solutions without sharing
  • Wear protective eyewear outdoors or in a workplace where there may be hazards
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you notice symptoms of a suspected eye infection
  • Always use protection to prevent STI

Infections of the Eye

Infections of the eye can occur in one or both eyes and in individuals of all ages. Typically, those who have ocular infections may describe redness, irritation, discharge, swelling around the eyelid and eye, pain and possible loss in vision.

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute TodayEye infections can be viral, bacterial or even fungal. Please see your eye care specialist if you suspect that you may have an infection, are experiencing irritation or pain in your eye. The exceptional eye doctors at USC Roski Eye Institute 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 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 or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.
By: Debbie Mitra, PhD

Area of Inflammation

Conjunctivitis Surface of the eye
Blepharitis Eyelid
Keratitis Cornea, the transparent outermost part of the eye
Uveitis Uvea, the inner layer of the eye
Vitritis “Jelly-like” ocular fluid in the eye
Neuroretinitis Optic nerve and retina

Rare Eye Cancer Cases Found in Two States Leave Physicians Perplexed

Melanoma 3Several people in both Alabama and North Carolina have been diagnosed with a rare eye cancer known as ocular melanoma. Although found in only 6 out of 1 million in the US, dozens of ocular melanomas were diagnosed in mostly women 20 to 30 years of age.

Interestingly, through the use of social media, multiple cases were discovered through websites formed by groups from Auburn University, Alabama as well as in Huntersville, North Carolina.

Similar to skin cancer, the melanin or pigmented cells within your eye can also mutate and cause melanoma in or around the eye although this only accounts for about 5% of cases. Specifically uveal melanoma, or melanoma on the inside of the eye, was discovered in these cases. Such rare melanomas are generally seen in patients between 50 and 60 years of age. Ongoing investigations by physicians have not yet revealed the cause for this unusual geographical collection of cases.

“These reported cases are bizarre in both the incidence and how young the patients are. I applaud the work that is being done to find a common thread, however given the rarity of the disease this will be difficult even in the setting of a localized spike,” says ocular oncologist, Jesse L Berry, MD and assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute.

Unlike skin cancer, which can be caused by sun damage, identifying the causes of eye cancers has been a challenge. Research has revealed that certain eye cancers can be hereditary or caused by random genetic mutations. Depending on the severity of the eye cancer, treatment options may include radiation via brachytherapy or with proton beam, or even removal of the eye.

Possible symptoms related to uveal melanomas generally include: blurring, distortion or loss of vision, shadow over vision which may come and go, as well as flashes and floaters.

“This is a devastating disease that can lead to blindness and even death if not appropriately diagnosed and treated early – and many of these tumors are asymptomatic so a complete dilated exam by an ophthalmologist is necessary to diagnose melanoma. Bringing awareness to this rare disease through social media platforms can give physicians and epidemiologists more information on the incidence of this disease in hopes of one day finding a cure, “ says Dr. Berry.

If you would like to learn about retinoblastoma, another eye cancer that occurs in children, and the development of a novel liquid biopsy method by Dr. Berry’s team please follow the link below:

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. 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 or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.

By: Debbie Mitra, PhD



AMD Awareness Month- Q&A with Dr. Amir Kashani

AMD blog photo

What is AMD?

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a devastating retinal degenerative disease that affects the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision. Those who suffer from this progressive disease are unable to drive, read or recognize faces. In AMD, vision loss is the result of the death or dysfunction of retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) that provide nutrients and support to the light sensing photoreceptor cells in the eye.

There are two forms of AMD: wet and dry. In the wet form of macular degeneration (known as choroidal neovascularization or CNV), abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula and retina. Fluid from leakage of these blood vessels accumulates and cause vision loss or distorted vision. In dry AMD (non-neovascular form) small yellow deposits form beneath the retina, which can ultimately lead to geographic atrophy (GA) or the advanced form of dry AMD. Dry AMD is the most prevalent form of macular degeneration and can be stable for many years without vision loss. Patients diagnosed with GA have severe loss of vision and a tangible impact on quality of life. To date, there is no cure or known treatment options for GA.

Who is at Risk?

In general the global burden of AMD remains substantial as a result of the aging population. Globally, the projected prevalence of AMD in 2020 is 196 million, increasing to 288 million in 2040. The main risk factors for AMD are age and race. Among Americans of European decent, the prevalence of AMD is projected to rise to nearly 5.44 million by 2050 according to reports from the National Eye Institute. A significant increase in the rate of AMD amongst minority populations has also been observed. Most notably, a six-fold rise of AMD has been reported in persons of Hispanic decent.

Other risk factors for AMD include positive family history, smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity.

How is AMD Diagnosed?

Pay attention to the signs of early disease including distorted vision and your risk factors for developing AMD. Please make an appointment to see your eye care specialist at least once a year if you are over 40 years of age, if you are at risk as a result of ocular and medical history, family history, age, or race and especially if you are noticing vision loss. Your ophthalmologist or optometrist will conduct a comprehensive eye exam, which will include dilated eye exams, visual acuity, and optical coherence tomography (OCT). Following a thorough assessment, your physician will work closely with you to determine the best course of action.

Are There Treatments for AMD?

RPE patch (white) implanted in the subretinal space.
RPE patch (white) implanted in the subretinal space.

In general there is no known cure for AMD. However, for the wet form of AMD, drug treatment options include anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) therapies. Such therapies reduce the level of VEGF, a protein known to stimulate abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina and macula. These drugs are administered as injections directly into the eye.

Thus far there is no FDA approved treatment available for dry AMD. USC vision researchers, Dr. Mark Humayun and David Hinton, funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, have recently developed a novel stem cell-based therapy for the treatment of advanced dry AMD. The treatment consists of a patch of RPE cells derived from stem cells that is grown onto a polymer scaffold and implanted behind the diseased portion of the eye. A clinical trial is currently underway to evaluate this potential treatment at USC and is led by Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Dr. Amir Kashani. Enrollment in the phase I/IIa clinical trial is ongoing for this stem cell-based treatment.

To learn more, please visit: +dry&rank=1.

Dr. Kashani specializes in complicated retinal detachment repair, recurrent retinal detachment repair, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, macular pucker, retinal vein occlusions, and hypertension related eye disease.


  1. Wong WL, Su X, Li X, et al. Global Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Disease Burden Projection for 2020 and 2040: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Lancet Glob Heal. 2014;2(2):106-116. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(13)70145-1.
  2. Congdon N, O’Colmain B, Klaver CC, et al; Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group. Causes and Prevalence of Visual Impairment Among Adults in the United States. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122(4):477-485.
  3. Varma R, Fraser-Bell S, Tan S, Klein R, Azen SP; Los Angeles Latino Eye Study Group. Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Latinos: The Los Angeles Latino Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2004;111(7):1288-1297.

February is National Age-related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Awareness Month

IMG_1144Low vision can affect one or both eyes and be caused by aging, birth defects, injury or complications from disease. Those who suffer from vision loss lose their independence and experience a poor quality of life. Everyday tasks such as using a cell phone, driving, reading a favorite novel or even watching the grandchildren play, become challenging and often impossible.

USC Roski Eye Institute Low Vision Rehabilitation Service

The USC Roski Eye institute is committed to enhancing the lives of those diagnosed with low vision. USC Roski Eye Institute brings hope to those who suffer from low vision with new vision rehabilitation services. Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Rachel A. Young, O.D., offers several services such as prescription eyewear, magnifiers or filters and other forms of assistive technology to treat low vision. Patients are also offered personalized counseling or training to improve their general quality of life.

In addition physicians and residents are educated in the diagnosis and treatment of low vision. Dr. Young organized an annual low vision symposium for USC Roski Eye Institute residents. Vision rehabilitation specialists were invited to discuss the latest in low vision treatments. Numerous medical device suppliers also demonstrated the newest technological advances in vision rehabilitation devices.




USC Roski Eye Institute Making a Difference in the Fight Against AMD

AMD blog photo

Researchers at the USC Roski Eye Institute have made great strides in the treatment of vision loss caused by devastating diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Mark S. Humayun, MD, PhD, and David R. Hinton, MD, received nearly $38 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to develop a stem cell-based treatment for AMD. AMD affects over 1.75 million people age 50 and older in the United States. The leading cause of blindness and vision loss among the elderly, AMD is a central retinal disease that impacts the area of the eye that helps process images, leading to catastrophic vision loss. It targets central vision, resulting in the inability to read, recognize faces or even drive. The disease causes a loss of crucial retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, which are essential to the survival of photoreceptors (light sensitive cells). To restore those RPE cells, the USC Roski Eye Institute team developed a unique procedure to grow thin sheets of stem cell-derived cells to be surgically implanted in the eye, replacing diseased sheets and restoring photoreceptors needed for vision. Phase 1 human clinical trial at the USC Roski Eye institute has already begun.

Schedule an Appointment at the 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. 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!

by Debbie Mitra

Extreme Diet Leads to Permanent Vision Loss in 11-Year-Old Boy

VAD Blog

An 11-year-old Canadian boy suffered vision loss from a rare case of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) as reported in the Journal of American Medical Association of Pediatrics.

Parents of the boy of east-Asian descent took him to the hospital over growing concerns that his vision was worsening over an eight-month period. In addition to vision loss, the boy also complained of dry eye.

Ophthalmologists found that the child had a restricted diet of potato, pork, lamb, apples, cucumber, and Cheerios due to his eczema and numerous food allergies. His vision was hand-motion only. Upon examination of the cornea, which is the outermost part of the eye responsible for refracting or focusing light, it appeared that there were opaque patches and inflammation.

After blood work was conducted, physicians found that the boys vitamin A levels were significantly below normal, measuring at 14.33 μg/dL (normal range, 25.79-48.71). The patient was immediately treated with high doses of vitamin A. While vision loss from VAD is often reversible, in this case, the boy suffered permanent vision loss due to optic atrophy or damage to the optic nerve.

“Conditions like this are rare in developed countries, and are thus often observed in underdeveloped countries where malnutrition is prevalent. You should always consult a physician before restricting your dietary intake. In general, having a proper diet rich in nutrients such as green leafy vegetables, omega fatty acids, zinc, lutein and carotenoids can have an impact on preserving healthy vision,” says cornea specialist, Jonathan Song, MD, MBA, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology.

According to data provided by World Health Organization, VAD is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and affects one third of children aged 6-59 months in underdeveloped countries in 2015 (see map below).


(Statistics of VAD-UNICEF global nutrition database, 2017, based on reports from 2015)

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. 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 or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.

By: Debbie Mitra


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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Announcement

Due to ongoing developments with COVID-19, we are only able to see patients with urgent eye problems at this time. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 323-442-6335.