Archive for the ‘EYES’ Category

Cure for blindness: Tooth sewn into man’s eyeball restores his full sight

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

A BLIND man has had his eyesight completely restored by Sydney surgeons — who sewed his tooth into his eyeball.

The risky but remarkable procedure involved planting a tiny lens inside the tooth, which now reflects light onto the back of the eye.

By using the patient’s own tooth, it ensures the body doesn’t reject it.

The operation, known as osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis, was recently performed twice at Sydney Eye Hospital, with one of the procedures being carried out on 72-year-old Goulburn man John Ings.

Mr Ings, whose procedure will feature on Channel 9’s 60 Minutes tonight, had progressively lost his sight as a result of the herpes virus. His vision has now been restored by the breakthrough operation.

Goulburn man John Ings’ vision has been restored. image

The second patient, 50-year-old Cairns woman Leonie Garrett, has also had her sight improved, from barely being able to see the difference between light and dark to now having 20/20 vision.

The operation, which treats corneal blindness, is the only one of its kind being performed in the southern hemisphere.

It was carried out by two former classmates of the University of NSW, oral and maxillofacial specialist Dr Shannon Webber and oculoplastic surgeon Dr Greg Moloney.

How the tooth eyeball procedure works.image

How the procedure works.

The pair trained extensively in Germany to learn the procedure, which has been performed there on a handful of occasions since it was first tried in 2004. A German specialist came to Australia to supervise the two operations.

The procedure is broken down into two stages. First the patient’s tooth is extracted, a hole is drilled through it and a small plastic lens is placed inside.

It is then sewn into the patient’s cheek, where it grows tissue over a period of several months.

“We rely on the tooth to gain its own blood and tissue supply so when it is removed from the mouth, what you have essentially is a living complex,” Dr Webber said.

The groundbreaking eye tooth operation is performed by Sydney surgeons image

The groundbreaking operation is performed by Sydney surgeons.

Picture: 60 Minutes

John Ings after the successful eye operation image

John Ings after the successful operation. Picture: 60 Minutes

A flap of skin and mucus membrane from inside the mouth is then sewn over the eyeball.

Three months later, the tooth lens is removed from the cheek and sewn over the patient’s blind eyeball, then covered with the flap of skin. An opening is made to allow the new lens to see out.

It projects light onto the patient’s macular, in the back of the eye, much as happens with the lens of a healthy cornea.

The tooth which helped restore Mr Ings’ sight.image

The tooth which helped restore Mr Ings’ sight. Picture: 60 Minutes

Both Dr Maloney and Dr Webber now expect to operate two or three times a year in Australia through the public health system at Sydney Eye Hospital.

“It’s pretty incredible and something we have been building towards for several years,” Dr Webber said.

“So to have done it successfully on two occasions is extremely satisfying. Both patients are doing really well and Leonie, in particular, is an amazing case because she had virtually no ability to see at all.

“We anticipate doing two to three of these surgeries a year and it will really come down to a supply and demand thing.”

Each patient would be assessed by Sydney Eye Hospital.

For Mr Ings, the successful surgery now means he is able to watch his own procedure on television tonight — something that would not have been possible six months ago.

“Before the operation I wouldn’t have been able to watch anything,” he said yesterday.


Henry Sapiecha


This Chemical Compound #29 Could Melt Away Cataracts

Friday, November 27th, 2015
Eye drops made from “compound 29” have been shown to reduce cataracts in mice. Researchers hope the same will hold true for humans.

cataract.eye image

Eye drops made from “compound 29” have been shown to reduce cataracts in mice. Researchers hope the same will hold true for humans.

Imagine looking through a fogged-up car window. You can see shapes and movement on the other side, but everything is blurry, the colors muted. Now imagine if that’s what the world looked like every time you opened your eyes. That’s what life is like for the millions of people living with cataracts, the leading cause of blindness globally.

While cataracts can be easily removed with surgery, this is an invasive and expensive option. In the developing world, patients may not have access to surgery at all. So a recently announced non-surgical treatment for the condition—a chemical compound that could “melt” cataracts away when applied as an eye drop—has the potential to make a big impact in the medical community.

The compound was discovered by a team of scientists from several U.S. universities. Their findings were published this month in the journal Science.

The lens of the human eye is made mostly of water and proteins. While most proteins in the human body are renewed on a regular basis, this is not true of lens proteins.

“Your lens proteins are the same proteins that you’re born with,” says Jason Gestwicki, a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at University of California, San Francisco. “They’re as old as you are.”

In a healthy lens, the proteins are neatly folded. But age, genetics and environmental factors can cause the proteins to form clumps, called amyloids. These clumps interfere with vision, causing the characteristic clouding associated with cataracts. The amyloids can first appear in a person’s 40s or 50s, but may not cause significant vision impairment until their 60s or later.

Gestwicki and his team members wondered if it would be possible to find a chemical compound that could affect amyloids. The possibilities were many: they started with nearly 2,500 compounds, eventually winnowing the field down to 12 compounds in the chemical class known as sterols. One sterol, called lanosterol, has previously been shown to affect cataracts, but only when injected directly into the eye. The team wanted something that could be used in eye drop form. Another of the 12 sterols stood out. Called “compound 29” by the team, it was shown in petri dish testing to dissolve amyloid clumps with a high degree of efficiency.

The next step was testing compound 29 on mice with cataracts. These mice were treated three times a week for six weeks, using drops of compound 29 in their right eye and an inert control in their left eye. At the end of the six week period, researchers examined the mice using a slit-lamp exam, which is how ophthalmologists measure cataracts in humans. The drops seemed to have dissolved many of the amyloids, making the lenses transparent again.

The next step will be human testing. Gestwicki and fellow researcher Leah Makley have founded a company, ViewPoint Therapeutics, which hopes to develop a safe cataract-fighting eye drop. “If everything goes right,” Gestwicki says, they will begin human testing in the next two years or so.

The implications of compound 29 don’t end with cataracts. Amyloids are the signature of a number of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. If it’s possible to melt these clumps of protein in the human eye, then in theory a similar approach could work on the brain as well. Gestwicki hopes to look at this possibility in the near future. Compound 29 itself might not be the breakthrough to treating neurological amyloid diseases, he says. But it’s given scientists a better understanding of how such a process could work.

“Compound 29 really showed us the features of such a molecule that we might want,” Gestwicki says. “I think it was a really important milestone.”


Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, April 7th, 2013


Free Color Blind Test – Flash Version

Color blindness in humans is the inability to perceive differences between some of the colors that other people can distinguish. It is most often of genetic nature, but may also occur because of eye, nerve, or brain damage, or due to exposure to certain chemicals.

The free colorblind test above has been found to be nearly 100% accurate.  But even if you pass this test, be aware that color vision can deteriorate over the course of a lifetime.  


Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012


Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in North America, while retinitis pigmentosa causes approximately 1.5 million people worldwide to lose their sight every year. Individuals afflicted with retinal degenerative diseases such as these might someday be able to see again, however, thanks to a device being developed at California’s Stanford University. Scientists there are working on a retinal prosthesis, that uses what could almost be described as miniature solar panels to turn light signals into nerve impulses.

The system consists of a camera- and microprocessor-equipped pair of goggles, and a small photovoltaic chip that is implanted beneath the retina.

The output of the camera is displayed on a miniature LCD screen, located on the inside surface of the goggles. That screen is special, however – it emits pulses of infra-red laser light, that correspond to the images it’s displaying. Photodiodes on the chip register those pulses, and in turn stimulate retinal neurons. In theory, this firing of the neurons should produce visual images in the brain, as would occur if they had been stimulated by visible light.

“It works like the solar panels on your roof, converting light into electric current,” said Dr. Daniel Palanker, associate professor of ophthalmology. “But instead of the current flowing to your refrigerator, it flows into your retina.”

Palanker’s team has created a chip about the size of a pencil point, which is thinner than a human hair, and contains hundreds of the photodiodes. These were tested using retinas from both sighted rats, and rats that were blind in a fashion similar to human degenerative blindness – the retinal neurons were still present, but were generally inactive. While the chips in the blind retinas didn’t respond to visible light (unlike those in the sighted retinas), they did respond to the near-infrared light. “They didn’t respond to normal light, but they did to infrared,” said Palanker. “This way the sight is restored with our system.”

The photovoltaic chip is implanted under the retina in a blind rat (upper right corner) – it is comprised of an array of photodiodes (center and lower left) (Image: Palanker Laboratory/Stanford University)

The scientists are currently testing the technology on live rats, and state that it so far looks as if the electrical signals are indeed reaching the rats’ brains. They are now looking for a sponsor for human trials. Palanker notes that the system doesn’t allow for color vision, however, and that what vision is does provide would be “far from normal.”

While other retinal prostheses are also in development, these reportedly involve more in the way of hardware such as coils or antennas being implanted in the eye. Most of the technology used in the light-based Stanford system, by contrast, is located in the goggles.

A paper on the research was published this week, in the journal Nature Photonics

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

FIFTEEN years ago, the bid to create Australia’s first bionic eye relied on university researchers pillaging old stereos for parts.

However today, 154 researchers led by biomedical engineers from the University of NSW could be less than a year away from their goal of saving the vision of degenerative eye disease sufferers.

In 1997, when the work began, Gregg Suaning and Nigel Lovell were unfunded, but dogged, researchers ripping old stereos asunder for spare parts in their attempts to build a bionic eye.

Their work today is a $42 million joint project involving the university, the Bionics Institute, the Centre for Eye Research Australia, NICTA and the University of Melbourne.

Researchers say they could be months away from offering hope to people with macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, the leading causes of sight loss in industrial countries.

The technology centres on an intricate and minuscule implant containing 98 electrodes, which is designed to stimulate nerve cells in the retina.

Images taken by an external camera implanted in glasses worn by the patient would be processed and relayed via an external wire to a receiver implanted behind the ear, from which signals will be sent to the retina processing chip. If all goes to plan the retina, having been stimulated with the signals, will send information to vision processing centres in the brain.

Human trials will begin next year. But people with any vestiges of sight will not be accepted. ”Because they have so much to lose, people who even see light won’t be able to qualify,” Professor Suaning said.

These trials will be the researchers’ first in Australia, fulfilling a dream held for decades.

The team began producing the implants last week, and will make about 25 before they know whether they’re ready to proceed.

It is envisaged that the technology, and follow-up treatment, will cost more than $60,000 per patient

Sourced & published  Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, January 25th, 2012


EMBRYONIC stem cells have been used to treat human illness for the first time, improving the sight of two women with severe vision loss.

The controversial development could give hope to hundreds of thousands of people suffering macular degeneration – one of the most common forms of blindness in First World countries – and has been hailed a historic step by stem cell scientists.

In a US trial last year, two legally blind women reported sight improvements after receiving a small dose of embryonic stem cell transplantations in their eyes.

Both had different forms of macular degeneration, a group of diseases that affect the retina, causing loss of central vision.

After the transplant in July, the first woman, who suffers from dry age-related macular degeneration, went from being able to read 21 letters on a sight test chart to 28. The second woman, who has Stargardt’s disease, went from being unable to read any letters to reading five. While the scientists who conducted the study are cautious about the results, tests indicate that healthy cells have grown where the treatment was injected.

They said the patients had shown no negative reactions.

The study, reported in The Lancet this week, was led by Robert Lanza, the chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology in the US – the stem cell company that funded the trial.

The research has taken place amid debate about whether the stem cells should be used because they are derived from five- to six-day-old human embryos.

The disease affects one in seven people over 50, the Macular Degeneration Foundation says.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Saving Eyes

Ocular Oncologists Inject Drug Into Eye

To Starve Tumors And Save Sight

October 1, 2008 — Ocular oncologists adopted a drug originally intended to treat colon cancer as a treatment for cancers in the eye as well as macular degeneration. The drug reduces abnormal blood vessel growth, which starves tumors and stops blood vessels from leaking. This interrupts the processes that would, if not stopped, greatly damage patients’ vision.

Whether it’s cancer or macular degeneration, many times patients must face the reality that they will go blind. Now, a new treatment is helping save their sight.

The first thing everyone notices about Dove Karn is her beautiful blue eyes — and it was in Central Park where she came to terms with the fact that she had melanoma in one of those very eyes.

Her tumor was treated with radiation — but the side effects could destroy her vision. Ocular oncologist Paul Finger turned to a new drug to stop Dove’s vision from slipping away.

“It’s a real paradigm shift — like antibiotics were for infections,” says Paul Finger, M.D., an ocular oncologist at the New York Eye Cancer Center in New York City. “This anti-blood-vessel drug is saving people’s vision.”

Avastin is a shot given directly into the eye. It starves the tumor by stopping the growth of abnormal blood vessels that normally would feed the tumor.

“Avastin stops new blood vessels from growing, but it also prevents new and old blood vessels from leaking — and the leaking is what takes away most of the patient’s vision,” Dr. Finger said.

Dove will need to get shots every 6 to 8 weeks, indefinitely — but she says it’s worth it.

“This year was the year that I could say I’m in remission,” Karn said. “I have a full-time teaching job. My children are fabulous — life is wonderful right now.”

ABOUT CANCER IN THE EYE: Ocular melanoma — eye cancer — is a particularly rare and aggressive form of cancer that attacks the pigment cells in the retina. There are essentially two types of intraocular melanoma: low-grade tumors, which grow slowly and rarely metastasize, and high-grade tumors, which grow more quickly and metastasize at a very early stage. Once a tumor metastasizes, the cancer spreads quickly to the liver and other organs, and a patient has only 6 to 12 months to live in the worst cases, although some can survive for as long as 5 years. The National Eye Institute estimates some 2,000 newly diagnosed cases of ocular melanoma occur per year in the United States and Canada –roughly seven in one million people. It affects people of all ages and races, and is not hereditary. Ocular melanoma kills nearly half of those who develop it.

ABOUT THE RETINA: We can see because light reflects off objects in our surroundings and enters the eye through the pupil. The light is then focused and inverted by the cornea and the lens, and projected onto the back of the eye. There we find the retina, which is lined with a series of photoreceptors that convert the light signal into an electrical signal. Ganglion cells then transmit those signals to the brain via the optic nerve.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, June 13th, 2010

The eyes have it.Use cancer drugs to cure bad eyesight

Science (June 11, 2010) — An inexpensive, but unlicensed drug to help prevent severe sight loss in older people has been shown to be safe and effective, finds a study published online in the British Medical Journal.

Bevacizumab (Avastin) is licensed as a treatment for bowel cancer, but it is widely used “off label” as a considerably cheaper alternative to the approved drug ranibizumab (Lucentis) to prevent wet age related macular degeneration (AMD) and several large trials comparing the two drugs are now underway.

Although ranibizumab was not included in this study (it was not licensed for use when the trial began) the researchers support its immediate implementation in healthcare systems whose budgetary limitations prevent patients’ access to ranibizumab. In the majority of countries in the world, where either no treatment or inferior therapies are available to patients with wet AMD, the appropriate use of bevacizumab, a highly cost effective intervention, would have an immediate impact in reducing incident blindness from this condition, they say.

Wet AMD is the leading cause of visual loss in people over the age of 50 in Europe and North America. Visual loss is a result of progressive loss of light sensitive cells at the back of the eye due to damage from abnormal, leaking blood vessels. Sufferers do not go blind, but find it virtually impossible to read, drive, or do tasks requiring fine, sharp, central vision.

In 2006, researchers based at three UK eye centres, set out to test whether bevacizumab is an effective and safe treatment for wet AMD compared with standard NHS care available at the time.

A total of 131 patients aged at least 50 years with wet AMD were randomised to either bevacizumab injections at six week intervals or standard care (one of three different treatments available on the NHS at the start of the study). Visual acuity was measured at the start of the study (baseline) and then monitored over one year (54 weeks).

At one year, 32% of patients in the bevacizumab group gained 15 or more letters from baseline visual acuity compared with 3% in the standard care group.

In addition, the proportion of patients who lost fewer than 15 letters of visual acuity from baseline was significantly greater among those receiving bevacizumab treatment (91%) compared with 67% in the standard care group.

Average visual acuity increased by seven letters in the bevacizumab group with a median of seven injections compared with a decrease of 9.7 letters in the standard care group, and the initial improvement at week 18 was sustained to week 54.

Bevacizumab treatment was associated with a low rate of serious adverse events.

These results show that bevacizumab injections given at six weekly intervals for wet AMD is superior to the standard care available at the start of the trial, say the authors. This trial provides level-one evidence for the use of bevacizumab injections for the treatment of wet AMD, they conclude.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Usha Chakravarthy from the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast says that, although this trial fills a gap in the evidence base and shows robustly that bevacizumab is better than previously employed treatments, it does not tell us whether the drug is as effective as ranibizumab. And she warns that “the off label use of bevacizumab should not be encouraged until the large randomised trials comparing it with ranibizumab report their findings.”

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 12th June 2010


Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

A Natural Approach

to Protect and Maintain Healthy Eyes

Loss of vision can result from a number of different conditions or factors. Some of the most common include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. Some less common but very real conditions that can lead to vision loss are retinis pigmentosa and macular degeneration as well.

Other conditions that can include vision loss:

Uveitis – This condition is characterized by an inflammation of the iris, choroid and ciliary body, which all make up the middle layer of the eye. Many times, this condition is caused by an underlying disease like an infection or rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms consist primarily of diminished or hazy vision but pain and redness may also be present. Anytime a blockage of a blood vessel that serves the retina – such as in the case of a blood clot – takes place, vision loss can occur as well.

Retinal detachment – In this case, the loss of vision is compared to having a curtain drawn across the field of vision. “Sparks”, flashes of light or an increase in the number of black floaters in the field of vision are also common.

Toxic amblyopia – With this condition, the optic nerve becomes damaged due to a toxic reaction. When this happens, a small “hole” which gets larger over a period of time is created in the field of vision. As the problem progresses, blindness may occur. In most cases, both eyes are affected and the condition is prevalent among smokers. For that reason, it is sometimes called tobacco mblyopia. Those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol or come into contact with methanol, digitalis, chloramphenicol, lead and other chemicals are also at higher risk of developing toxic amblyopia.

Inflammation of the optic nerve – An inflammation such as this, which may occur as a result of a systemic illness or infection can be another cause of vision loss. In many cases however, the exact cause cannot be determined. With this condition, it’s usually only one eye that is affected but sometimes it can affect both and vision loss in various degrees may occur over the course of a few days.

The regimen outlined below includes a holistic approach to maintaining healthy eyes, therefore preventing vision loss:

The eyes, like every other part of the body needed to be nourished and cared for properly. Eating a healthy diet which contains sufficient amounts of vitamins & minerals is essential in maintaining healthy eyes.

Vegetables like carrots, green vegetables, watercress, cauliflower, seeds, broccoli and raw cabbage should all be included in the diet.

Drink fresh carrot juice. This can help treat & alleviate some eye problems.

Sugar & white four should be eliminated from the diet.

Always protect the eyes from dangerous levels of UV exposure by wearing UV protective sunglasses when in the sun for long periods of time.

The following herbs and supplements are also beneficial in maintaining healthy eyes:

Free-form amino acid complex (take as directed on label) – Provides needed protein.

Glutathione (500 mg daily on an empty stomach) – Powerful antioxidant that protect the lenses of the eyes.

High-Potency Multivitamin and mineral complex (take as directed on label) – Provides are necessary nutrients in the proper balance.

Vitamin A (25,000 IU daily) Essential for proper eye function. Shields the eye from free radicals. Use emulsion form for easy assimilation.

Vitamin B complex (100 mg of each major B vitamin twice daily) – Needed for intracellular eye metabolism.

Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids (2,000 mg 3 times daily) – Antioxidant that reduces intraocular pressure.

Vitamin E (200 IU daily) – Important in healing and immunity.

Zinc (50 mg daily) – Deficiency has been linked to retinal detachment.

Cayenne, red raspberry leaves and bayberry bark when taken by mouth are beneficial.

Bilberry extract – Studies have shown this herb to improve normal and night vision.

* Please note: The recommended doses are for those over age 18 unless otherwise stated. Always check herb and vitamin use with your child’s health care practitioner prior to administering them.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 3rd April 2010


Thursday, June 25th, 2009