A new study led by Trinity College Dublin, in Ireland, finds that controlling or raising levels of the immune system component IL-18 in the retinas of patients with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), could prevent it progressing into the wet form of the disease. The researchers write about their findings in the 8 April online issue of Nature Medicine. AMD is the leading cause of central vision loss worldwide. Its advanced form makes every day life very difficult, preventing people from doing what many take for granted, such as read the paper, watch television, drive, use a computer, and see expressions on the faces of people they are in conversation with. A characteristic hallmark of AMD is having too many "drusen": yellowish-white deposits in the macula, the central region of the retina.
Working in mice, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have devised a treatment that prevents the optic nerve injury that occurs in glaucoma, a neurodegenerative disease that is a leading cause of blindness. Researchers increased the resistance of optic nerve cells to damage by repeatedly exposing the mice to low levels of oxygen similar to those found at high altitudes. The stress of the intermittent low-oxygen environment induces a protective response called tolerance that makes nerve cells - including those in the eye - less vulnerable to harm. The study, published online in Molecular Medicine, is the first to show that tolerance induced by preconditioning can protect against a neurodegenerative disease. Stress is typically thought of as a negative phenomenon, but senior author Jeffrey M.
According to a study published in the April 4 issue of JAMA, individuals have an increased, although overall small risk of developing a serious eye condition called retinal detachment when taking oral fluoroquinolones. The study included nearly 1 million patients who had visited an ophthalmologist. The researchers write: "Fluoroquinolones are one of the most commonly prescribed classes of antibiotics. Their broad-spectrum antibacterial coverage and high-tissue distribution provide potency for a wide variety of community-acquired infections." Even though fluoroquinolones are typically well tolerated, they have been linked to numerous side effects and associated to several forms of ocular toxicity, such as retinal hemorrhages, corneal perforations, and optic neuropathy. The researchers said: "Despite numerous case reports of ocular toxicity, a pharmacoepidemiological study of their ocular safety, particularly retinal detachment, has not been performed.
Drugs that are commonly used to prevent osteoporosis may increase the risk of serious inflammatory eye disease in first-time users, found an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). Oral bisphosphonates, the most commonly prescribed class of drugs used to prevent osteoporosis, have been linked to adverse events such as unusual fractures, irregular heartbeat, and esophageal and colon cancer. Some case reports have shown an association between these drugs and anterior uveitis and scleritis, inflammatory eye diseases that can seriously affect vision. Researchers from the Child and Family Research Institute and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, undertook a study to examine and quantify the risk associated with uveitis or scleritis and oral bisphosphonates because the literature is limited.
A national consortium of researchers has published new findings that could change the standard of practice for those treating Fuchs' Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD), a disease characterized by cornea swelling that can eventually lead to the need for corneal transplantation. The Fuchs' Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy Genetics Multi-Center Study Group, led by co-principal investigators Jonathan Lass, MD, Charles I Thomas Professor and chair, Case Western Reserve University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and director, University Hospitals Eye Institute, and Sudha Iyengar, PhD, professor, Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Genetics, and Ophthalmology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, found that changes in the corneal thickness occur in patients at early stages of FECD even before swelling is observed in the clinical setting.