“Enhancing vision today…to help reach goals for tomorrow” is more than a motto. It is the essence of our practice.—Dr. Wylie

Many people can recall the 1980s song by Thomas Dolby, that includes the lyrics,

”She blinded me with science! And hit me with technology....”

In the 21st century, it seems that the blind can now “depend” on and anticipate science to restore vision.

Scientific advancement in the arena of neuroscience and medicine have given blind people hope that they never had before. The world of science and technology is providing inroads into greater opportunities in the advancement of sight restoration and retinal prosthetics with measured success.

Global statistics show nearly 40 million people are affected by some sort of blindness, with 15 million debilitated by AMD alone. The advancement of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) has sparked new research options for the blind, paving the way to future bionic eye treatments. Using eyeglasses with a camera that transmits images to an electrode implanted in the retina, images and movement can be detected. The Argus II, a retinal prosthesis device, is already available in the US and European markets with FDA approval in the United States.

Making a bionic eye is trickier than you think. The implant must not only respond to light, but also transmit the light to the neural pathways in the brain in order to process the light and subsequent vision.

The way our vision should work, is that light and images are processed through the, “film of the camera”, per se, called the retina. The retina relies on photoreceptors called rods and cones that take the visual image and transfer it through neural pathways to the brain, which in turn processes the vision causing us to see light, color, and images. The pathways of vision are processed through the second cranial nerve, the optic nerve. Scientists are working to restore those pathways damaged by glaucoma, stroke, head injury, and retinal disease or damage.

Advancements in this technology can lend to improvements in locating or identifying objects, orientation and mobility, detecting light and making certain household tasks easier, like locating utensils.

Although this technology is in its infancy, results are promising......and who knows, maybe in the future the Thomas Dolby song will need to be sung as “She UN-blinded me with science.”

 

References:

1. “The Bionic Eye” The Scientist, October 2014

2. Jef Akst,”Retinal Film Detects Light” The Scientist, November 13, 2014

3. www.amd.org

4. www.2-sight.eu

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Motherhood.., the sheer sound of it brings enduring memories. A mother’s touch, her voice, her cooking, and the smile of approval in her eyes. Science has recently proven that there is a transference of emotion and programming from birth and infancy between a mother and her child... a type of communication, if you will, that occurs when the infant looks into its mother’s eyes. So what is this programming? How does it work and what effect does it have on the life of the child? What happens if it never happened to the infant? What happens if the mother is blind? These questions and more can be answered through a term called “triadic exchanges” in which infants learn social skills.

The gaze into a mother’s eyes brings security and well being to the child. When she gazes at another person, it makes the infant look at what she is gazing at, and introduces the infant to others in the world. This is known as a triadic exchange. So now their world is no longer just one person, their mother, but a third party which teaches them the art and skill of organizing their social skills and interaction.

Interestingly, if a mother is blind, it does not adversely affect the child’s development. A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B showed no deficit in their advancement. The sheer fact that the infant looks into the mother’s eyes helps with connectedness and emotional grounding.

Looking into mom’s eyes and face teaches facial recognition and expressions of emotions and is primarily how the child learns in the first few months of life. Additionally, infants tend to show a preference to viewing faces with open eyes rather than closed eyes, thus stressing the importance of the mother or caregiver’s gaze.

Some health benefits to gazing into the mother’s eyes is a lower incidence of autism, or spectrum disorders, better social skills, higher learning capacity, and emotional groundedness.

The beauty of a mother’s gaze is that the child can feel the emotions of love, security, safety, and overall well being by connecting with her through eye to eye contact. This sets the stage for the future development of social skills, visual recognition of people, and their readiness for social interaction in the world.

A big thank you to science and mothers for proving what we already know, that the values in life can be taught to a child “through a mothers eyes” setting the course of proper interaction for life skills and relationships.

 

References:

1. Kate Yandell, Proceedings of the Royal Society B ,04/10/2013.

2. Maxson J.McDowell, Biological Theory, MIT Press, 05/04/2011.

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

The QuantifEye Macular Pigment Measurement instrument measures macular pigment in a quick, safe, and non-intrusive exam available at your doctor's office. This 2:43 video provides a quick overview of the device, and information on macular pigment.

Bariatric surgery is on the rise nationwide because of increases in obesity. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) more than one-third of US adults are obese. Obesity has dramatically increased in the last ten years and diet, exercise, medications, as well as weight loss surgery are viable options for this condition. However, there is a precaution to be aware of... the surgery can put you at risk for vision loss.

According to an international journal, Obesity Journal, patients need to be educated on the risk of vision loss after weight loss surgery. Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to vision complications after bariatric surgery. Many vitamins must be in place to ensure proper functioning of the visual system. Among them are vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), E, and the mineral copper. It is important after surgery to implement a nutritional supplement program because typically patients can develop food intolerance or eat less after surgery. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Lack of Vitamin A can lead to many pathological conditions of the eye such as night blindness, infections of the cornea, dry eye syndrome, or in rare conditions: blindness. Vitamin A is also vital to for healthy DNA, immune system and healthy skin.

Foods rich in Vitamin A include: sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy green vegetables, squash, Romaine lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe, sweet red peppers, tuna, and mangos.

After any type of weight loss surgery, patients should be monitored and prescribed supplements to offer maximum protection of their precious eyesight.

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

There are many opinions on the topic of texting and driving. The goal of this blog is to neither refute nor endorse the subject, but instead to explore the effects on vision during texting. It is up to the reader to make a judgement call on the endorsement of texting and driving.

You may not be surprised to hear that texting has replaced drunken driving as the number one cause of deaths in the teenage population. According to Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, teen drunken driving has gone down over 50% since 1991 but the number of people texting and driving has skyrocketed. It is illegal to text and drive in the UK, but not in many states in the USA. Some phone companies are launching ad campaigns to discourage texting while driving, and they are reporting a 23 times higher incidence of an accident if you text and drive.

So why does it make you more likely to crash from a visual perspective? The problem lies in distraction from driving. For example, it takes a fast texter approximately 20 seconds to read and reply to a text. At 55 mph on the highway, a driver glances away from the road for approximately one-third of a mile. When the driver is focusing on their screen, this gives the driver essentially tunnel vision causing the visual system to essentially use peripheral vision. Your central vision is used to detect depth perception, detail, and colors such as red or green. So when texting, your depth perception, or 3-D vision, is altered, so that if cars are stopped ahead or closing in rapidly, its not detected. Brake lights are red, so while texting, our visual system is using mainly peripheral vision, which can detect gross movement, but not the color red.

So next time you encounter situations with texting and driving, know that the visual system was designed to perform advanced visual perception while using central vision. This includes detail vision, depth perception, and color vision....all of which are placed on hold while texting and driving, since the visual system switches to peripheral vision designed to detect gross movements.

For more information on texting and driving see:

www.itcanwait.com

US Dept. of Transportation

www.AAA.com

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the visual system as we age? What does the term "second sight" mean? What is presbyopia? What are the eyes more susceptible to as the aging process occurs? What can be done to prevent certain aging factors of the eye? The answer lies in a theory known as apoptosis (no that's not the name of the latest pop artist).

Apoptosis is the pre-programmed life of every cell in our body. Most studies show that it's a function of our programmed DNA. It's the ability for cells to survive and thrive in the anatomical environment. The body's ability to withstand and thrive during the aging process depends on proper nutrition, good mental health, exercise, and adequate oxygen supply. That's why studies have shown smoking can shorten your life by a decade or more.

In regards to aging and the eye, there is a phenomina during the 6th to 7th decade of life called "second sight". This is simply progressive nearsightedness in older adults secondary to cataracts. Close to 50% of the population over 60 years old has cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens of the eye that can impair vision causing glare and loss of detail. When patients experience second  sight, it is sometimes quite convenient for them: they see up close without their reading glasses they have been depended on since their 40s.

Another aspect of the aging process is loosing your reading vision you had all your life. This is called Presbyopia. Presbyopia is a Latin term which means "old eyes."

What happens in Presbyopia?

Before our mid-forties, the natural lens of the eye is very pliable and can easily focus on items up close. But in our mid forties, the lens tends to lose it's elasticity. While experiencing presbyopia, you generally hold reading material farther away to see it more clearly. Presbyopia can be managed through Bifocal or multifocal  glasses or contact lenses, and some surgeries.

As aging occurs, the eyes are more susceptible to cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and vascular disorders of the eye as well as dry eye syndrome.

To help prevent and manage these conditions, there are a variety of options.

  1. Maintaining yearly dilated eye exams for preventative care.
  2. Protect your eyes against the sun with UV sunglasses.
  3. Take antioxidant vitamins to help bolster the protection of the macula of the retina.
  4. Use artificial tears to hydrate the eye and keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  5. Keep emotional, physical, and mental stress to a minimum.

Being Educated on how we age is the first advancement of good ocular health and diminishing the chances of early apoptosis.

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

And old Creek Indian proverb states, "We warm our hands by the fires we did not build, we drink the water from the wells we did not dig, we eat the fruit of the trees we did not plant, and we stand on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us."

In 1961, the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) was formed. This association stewards over 80 eye banks in the US with over 60,000 recipients each year of corneal tissue that restores sight to blind people. Over one million men, women, and children have had vision restored and pain relieved from eye injury or disease. The Eye Bank Association of America is truly a giant whom shoulders that we stand upon today. Their service and foresight into helping patients with blindness is remarkable.

It is important to give back the gift of sight. You may be asking, “how does this affect me?” On the back of your drivers license form there is a box that can be checked for being an organ donor. Many people forego this option because they are not educated on the benefits of it. There are many eye diseases that rob people of sight because of an opacity, pain, or disease process of the cornea. Keratoconus, a disease that causes malformation of the curvature of the cornea, can be treated by a corneal transplant. Chemical burns that cause scarring on the cornea leave people blinded or partially blind. This is another condition that requires a corneal transplant. 

When it comes to corneal tissue, virtually everyone is a universal donor, because the cornea is not dependent on blood type. Corneal transplant surgery has a 95% success rate. According to a recent study by EBAA, eye disorders are the 5th costliest to the US economy behind heart disease, cancer, emotional disorders, and pulmonary disease. The cost is incurred when the person, for example, is a working age adult and can no longer hold a job because of vision issues. The gift of a corneal transplant can be one way to restore not only their vision, but their way of life, and their contribution to society.

By becoming a donor, or educating others to consider being an organ donor, you can give the gift of sight to someone on a waiting list. When you educate others to give the precious gift of sight, you become a giant whose shoulders others can stand on. Become a donor today.

For more information go to www.restoresight.org or contact your local drivers license office.

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

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