Thursday, December 20, 2012

Aspirin and AMD

Two studies suggest a increasing risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with aspiring use:

JAMA 12/2012:

Among an adult cohort, aspirin use 5 years prior to observed incidence was not associated with incident early or late AMD. However, regular aspirin use 10 years prior was associated with a small but statistically significant increase in the risk of incident late and neovascular AMD.

This is in support of an earlier study:

Ophthalmology 1/2012:

Early AMD was present in 36.4% of the participants and late AMD was present in 3.3% of participants. Monthly aspirin use was reported by 1931 (41.2%), at least once weekly by 7%, and daily use by 17.3%. For daily aspirin users, the ORs, adjusted for potential confounders, showed a steady increase with increasing severity of AMD grades.

Friday, November 30, 2012

An image of DNA

This image, captured by electron microscopy, shows a thread of several interwoven DNA molecules. The double helix structure of DNA was discovered 59 years ago by James Watson and Francis Crick [photo by Enzo Di Fabrizio, the Magna Graecia University, Catanzaro, Italy]

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dark Matter

This giant map of invisible dark matter recorded in four directions by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope during each season of the year was released on Jan. 9, 2012. The color inset shows the previous largest COSMOS dark matter map and the size of the full moon (as it would appear to the telescope) to scale. [CREDIT: Van Waerbeke, Heymans, and CFHTLens collaboration.]

Dark matter clusters and filaments constitute 98% of the matter in the universe. Mapping is possible through gravitational lensing effect, i.e., light paths from distant objects bent by gravitational pulls of the dark matter before reaching Earth.

A movie by the same name can be seen here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The/A Higgs Field

[The/A Higgs boson may have been found, CERN announced on 7/4/2012]

From CERN: "A major breakthrough in particle physics came in the 1970s when physicists realized that there are very close ties between two of the four fundamental forces – namely, the weak force and the electromagnetic force. The two forces can be described within the same theory, which forms the basis of the Standard Model. This ‘unification’ implies that electricity, magnetism, light and some types of radioactivity are all manifestations of a single underlying force called, unsurprisingly, the electroweak force. But in order for this unification to work mathematically, it requires that the force-carrying particles have no mass. We know from experiments that this is not true, so physicists Peter Higgs, Robert Brout and François Englert came up with a solution to solve this conundrum.

They suggested that all particles had no mass just after the Big Bang. As the Universe cooled and the temperature fell below a critical value, an invisible force field called the ‘Higgs field’ was formed together with the associated ‘Higgs boson’. The field prevails throughout the cosmos: any particles that interact with it are given a mass via the Higgs boson. The more they interact, the heavier they become, whereas particles that never interact are left with no mass at all. "

It now appears that CERN has evidence of the presence of the/a Higgs particle and by implication, the/a Higgs Field. Very impressive.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Big Bang Theory

Since the Big Bang started everything, including the eye/vision, we thought it relevant to present it here:

The Laws of Physics apparently had created something from nothing; although it is still unknown how the Laws came into being in the first place.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

12.12 It never fails

The ring of God

News from Japan [Japan Today 5/22/2012]:

At least 74 people sought help for eye problems at eye clinics in 18 prefectures across Japan after observing the annular solar eclipse on Monday, the Japanese Ophthalmological Society reported on its website Tuesday.

Doctors and education officials had warned of eye injuries from improper viewing beforehand. Education Minister Hirofumi Hirano demonstrated the use of eclipse glasses in a televised news conference on the weekend.

The society said most of the complaints were solar retinopathy due to not properly using special protective glasses. Of the 74, 16 were children younger than 12.

The next solar eclipse comes on May 20, 2016. Be prepared this time, people.

Friday, May 4, 2012

12.11 Vitamins E, C no help against vision disorder

"In May 2009, a study was published in the journal Opthalmology which broadened the field of eye-friendly foods and nutrients. The following nutritional components were associated with a slowing of the progression of AMD [age-related macular degeneration]:

Vitamins C and E
Lutein & Zeaxanthin (antioxidant carotenoids)
DHA & EPA (fatty acids found in fish)"
[quoted from here]

Now a new study, claiming C and E have no protective effect at all, appears in the same journal:

"This latest study is the longest-running one to test vitamin E for eyesight in men, and the first to try out vitamin C alone, said lead researcher William G. Christen, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. It found no benefits of either vitamin in older men who took supplements for eight years."
[quoted from here]

As usual, the field of epidemiology is full of contradictory results. The latest study recruited 14,000 male physicians, a "well-nourished bunch" as the authors noted. Apparently, no one has the last words yet.

Monday, April 30, 2012

12.10 Rainbow in the eye

Rainbow colors in the tear film indicate that it is rich with lipids that are required to keep the aqueous portion of the tears from evaporating too quickly [Source: TearScience] 

What does this mean? Simple: Presence of the rainbow colors indicates the oily film is preventing water in the tear fluids from escaping into air, so the eyes stay moist. On the other hand, lack of this protection leads to a common form of dry eye.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kang Young Woo, PhD (1944-2012)

Blinded by retinal detachment from a soccer accident while in high school, Dr Kang had overcome all odds and become the first ever blind Korean to have received a PhD degree in the US. This was at a time when the blind had little choice except to become a masseur or a fortunate teller. His lifetime work as the founder of the EREF International was to champion the cause of the visually disabled. Among other endeavors, he had organized low vision conferences held in Seoul and founded a school for the blind, called Angels' Heaven, also in Seoul.

He was only 68 when he passed leaving behind Mrs Kang who volunteered to read lessons to him when they were both still in high school, and two sons, one a corneal surgeon and the other a gov't lawyer.

Dr Kang's was a full life, much too short, however.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

12.9 Basketball-sized eyes

[Left] The caption reads: "Colossal squid corneas—relatively small parts of the animal's basketball-size eyes (file picture). Photograph by Marty Melville, Getty Images." - National Geographic Daily News (3/15/2012)

This is incorrect, both appear to be the crystalline lens, not the cornea at all.

The colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) has basketball-sized eyes - "10.6-inch-wide", and someone is trying to figure out why eyeballs of this size are needed to see at an depth of the ocean where it is essentially pitch-dark.

The answer, according to the report seems:

"The team's models [developed by Dan-Eric Nilsson et al at Sweden's Lund University] revealed that, what the colossal and giant squid's supersize pupils and retinas lacked in close-up vision they made up for with extreme farsightedness. The cephalopods are fine-tuned to spot very large objects at a distance—such as the sperm whales that prey on the squid.

"Still, no matter how large the eye, or how big the object being seen, darkness presents a visual problem.

"With their great light-gathering capacity, squid eyes are able to detect even a faint glow the equivalent of a football field away, the study found.

"Not coincidentally, when a sperm whale is on the move, it disturbs tiny bioluminescent life-forms, creating a faintly glowing trail in the whale's wake—and giving squid an unintentional warning sign."

Hmm... the squids "lacked in close-up vision they made up for with extreme farsightedness"?

To spot tiny bioluminescence a football field away, emmetropic vision, i.e., 20/20 or better, is of course needed. If they are extremely farsighted, then accommodation is required, and if they don't have "close-up vision", then all bets are off. It'll be blurry as heck...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

12.8 Farewell, Mr Spock?

News today (see here):

Brain scans of NASA astronauts who were in space for more than a month revealed potentially serious abnormalities that could set back plans for longer deep space missions, according to a US study published Tuesday.

Researchers from The University of Texas Medical School in Houston scanned the eyes and brains of 27 astronauts who had spent an average of 108 days in space, either on space shuttle missions or aboard the International Space Station.

They found that those who spent more than a month in space were more likely to suffer from intracranial hypertension -- a potentially serious condition that occurs when pressure builds within the skull.

The symptoms included excess cerebral-spinal fluid around the optic nerve in 33 percent of the astronauts studied, while a fifth showed a flattening of the back of the eyeball, which affects the ability to focus, research published in the journal Radiology showed.

OK, what about female astronauts?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

12.7 Not again!

[Textured lines in a train station in Japan]

SAITAMA [3/7/2012] — A visually-impaired man who fell from a platform onto train tracks in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, was hit and killed by a train, police said Wednesday.

According to police, the incident occurred at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. The man, who has been named as Akio Hashimoto, 62, was visually impaired and walked with a cane, Fuji TV reported.

Following the incident, station staff reviewed security camera footage and found that Hashimoto had been following textured paving blocks that act as a guide for the visually impaired, when he seemed to lose track of them. Searching for the correct route, station employees say the man fell off the platform onto the tracks and was subsequently struck by a train, Fuji reported.

Police say Hashimoto had 10% vision and worked as a masseur.

No bystanders there to help?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

12.6 Avastin alert

[Above: Counterfeit Avastin, found in the US, with label in French]

News from Oct, 2101 reported the use of fake Avsatin for the treatment of AMD in China, now the fake version is found in the US. Everyone should be on the lookout. We hope the crooks are caught quickly and punished severely.

2010 news:

[Seeking Alpha] - "Shanghai Roche Pharma, the first China JV set up by Roche (RHHBY.PK), officially announced on its website that its cancer treatment Avastin has been approved for sale in China. The announcement comes after Avastin received negative publicity in China. Apparently, a fake version of Avastin caused adverse reactions in 61 patients at Shanghai No. 1 People's Hospital.

"...Officially, Avastin is not yet available in China, but almost 1,000 people have received the drug as a treatment for macular degeneration, an eye disease that leads to blindness. Avastin in approved for this indication in the West, where it has been very effective. However, in China, Avastin is approved only for treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer, the initial indication in the West as well.

"At Shanghai No. 1, it was given to 116 patients, which means that over half of the group experienced pain, red eyes and unclear vision.

"No one can explain how a drug that is not officially available is being used so widely – the macular deterioration procedure has been performed in over 30 hospitals. Although one group experienced a high percentage of adverse reactions, the other patients did not report similar difficulty. Not everyone believes that all the administered drug was fake, and even if it was, they question how the counterfeit drug was introduced into China’s healthcare system."


WASHINGTON (AP) – The maker of the best-selling cancer drug Avastin is warning doctors and patients about counterfeit vials of the product distributed in the U.S.

"Roche said any patient taking Avastin who experiences side effects should contact their doctor immediately.

"The counterfeit products do not have "Genentech" printed on their packaging, which appears on all FDA-approved cartons and vials of the drug. Additionally, legitimate Avastin contains a six-digit lot number with no letters. All the text on the product's packaging is in English.

"The company believes drugs labeled with the following lot numbers may be fake: B86017, B6011 and B6010."

Friday, February 10, 2012

12.5 Male astronauts' eyes

Now this is quite unexpected, in today's CNN LightYears:

...Because when [Mike] Barratt blasted off to the international space station, he needed eyeglasses for distance. When he returned to Earth, his distance vision was fine, but he needed reading glasses. That was more than two years ago. And he’s not getting better. [Note: Barratt is 45 years old, presbyopia is not the issue here, the surprising aspect is the shift from myopia to emmetropia or slight hyperopia.]

“We really need to understand this. This is a critical point for understanding how humans adapt to spaceflight,” he said. [Absolutely.]

In the past few years, about half of the astronauts aboard the international space station have developed an increasing pressure inside their heads, an intracranial pressure that reshapes their optic nerve, causing a significant shift in the eyesight of male astronauts. Doctors call it papilledema. [Note: It seems the posterior pole got re-shaped (flattened) causing some changes in optic disc morphology and a decrease in the axial length. This may not be papilledma per se; let's not scare the astronauts with this stuff.]

Female space travelers have not been affected. [Note: Now this is truly amazing if true.]

Some of the astronauts slowly recover. Others have not. [Duration, please.]

Sunday, January 1, 2012

12.4 Contact lens 2100

[Source: NPR/here]

"Imagine being able to access the Internet through the contact lenses on your eyeballs. Blink, and you'd be online. Meet someone, and you'd have the ability to immediately search their identity. And if your friend happens to be speaking a different language, an instantaneous translation could appear directly in front of you.

"That might sound farfetched, but it's something that might very well exist in 30 years or less, says theoretical physicist Michio Kaku.

"'The first people to buy these contact lenses will be college students studying for final exams,' he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "They'll see the exam answers right in their contact lenses. ... In a cocktail party, you will know exactly who to suck up to, because you'll have a complete read out of who they are. President Barack Obama will buy these contact lenses, so he'll never need a teleprompter again. ... These already exist in some form [in the military]. You place [a lens] on your helmet, you flip it down, and immediately you see the Internet of the battlefield ... all of it, right on your eyeball."

Indeed, this may revolutionize contact lens industry and beyond. Those interested should take note.

Happy New Year to All!!