Wednesday 27 March 2013

Jetrea approved for treatment of vitreomacular traction, macular hole

The European Commission has approved Jetrea intravitreal injection (ocriplasmin) for the treatment of vitreomacular traction (VMT) and macular hole in the EU, Alcon has announced.
Jetrea will be available in the UK later this month, and a decision on the availability of the drug for UK NHS patients is expected later this year.
Adnan Tufail, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “The licensing of Jetrea is an important development for patients and doctors, increasing the armoury of treatment options available to manage VMT, and reducing the need for clinic appointments and surgical interventions. I hope this will rapidly be approved by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) and the SMC (Scottish Medicines Consortium) for use in NHS patients in the UK.”
The decision to approve Jetrea in the EU follows research published in the New England Journal of Medicine which showed that patients treated with Jetrea achieved resolution of VMT and closure of a macular hole, compared to placebo, after 28 days.
Stuart Raetzman, area president at Alcon for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “The approval of Jetrea by the European Commission is a major breakthrough for people with VMT and eye care professionals who, until now, have only had surgical options available to treat this debilitating eye disease. Now they can intervene early with a one-time injection of Jetrea.”

Saturday 23 March 2013

Please Join This Forum

There is a new UK based forum set up with a view to helping both patients and eye care professionals share advice and information with each other. There are many good Dry Eye forums such as the Dry Eye Zone, however these seem to be based in the USA.

If you are a professional who is willing to share your knowledge, or a Dry eye patient with personal experience and stories to tell.......

Please help this forum evolve!

RNIB Pears Centre awarded double 'outstanding' by Ofsted

RNIB Pears Centre for specialist learning has been given the highest rating by Ofsted in a recent inspection.
The Centre received a double ‘outstanding’ grading, which means that the school is ‘highly effective in delivering outcomes that provide exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs.’
The rating is in addition to the ‘outstanding’ grading that the children’s home at the Centre received after an inspection in November last year. 
The Centre’s head teacher, Andy Moran, said: “I'm delighted that the quality of our education has been rated to be outstanding by Ofsted, as well as our care. I know that staff, parents, governors and in particular the young people are very pleased with this outcome. It confirms to us that we're doing the right thing for the young people we support."
Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the RNIB (pictured), added: "These fantastic achievements demonstrate our continued commitment to delivering exemplary services for children and young people with complex needs who are blind or partially sighted, and our commitment to sharing this specialist expertise with others."
The report found that ‘increasing proportions of students are reaching or exceeding their targets even though these are individually challenging.’ It also stated that ‘the achievement of students is so positive because of the outstanding impact of the teams that support learning in every class… the role of other adults, such as teaching assistants and therapists, are crucial in supporting every student to fulfil their physical and learning potential.’
The full report can be downloaded from the RNIB website,

How does glaucoma look?

A study has found that patients with glaucoma do not perceive their vision loss as a black tunnel effect, which is commonly shown in images and simulations of what patients with the condition are believed to perceive.
Fifty patients with visual acuity better than 20/30 and with a range of glaucomatous visual field defects in both eyes were included in the study. 
All participants were shown six manipulated images of an outdoor scene. Each image was manipulated to provide views of the image obscured and degraded in a range of distinct ways: a tunnel with black edges, a tunnel with blurred edges, black patches, blurred patches and missing patches.
Patients were asked to select the image that most closely represented his or her perception of their visual field loss.
Writing in the journal Ophthalmology, the research team reports that none of the patients chose the images with a distinct black tunnel effect or black patches. Only two patients chose the image with a tunnel effect with blurred edges.
Thirteen participants were completely unaware of their visual field defect affecting their visual function, choosing the original unedited image.
Fifty four percent of patients chose an image depicting blurred patches while 16% chose one with missing patches. 
The researchers said: “The results from this study are important in terms of stimulating the design of appropriate information about the visual symptoms of glaucoma.”

Moorfields announces new treatment procedure for glaucoma patients

Moorfields Eye Hospital has announced that it will be offering a new treatment procedure for patients undergoing cataract surgery for glaucoma which will result in faster surgery and healing times.
The new trabectome procedure is only minimally invasive and reduces the need for frequent daily dosages of eye drops. It is carried out under local anaesthetic and takes between 10-15 minutes to perform.
The procedure has been widely used in the United States, but Moorfields is one of the first hospitals in the UK to introduce it.
Gus Gazzard (pictured), consultant ophthalmologist and clinical director for Moorfields South, said: “[The trabectome procedure] has a number of benefits for the NHS and patients, including a reduction in drug use and fewer of the major operations such as trabeculectomy which overall will save the NHS money in the long run.
“Trabectome procedures are undertaken in the early course of the disease to delay the need for more major surgery. All glaucoma patients on eye drops would potentially be eligible for this treatment although we will initially concentrate on those who need cataract surgery with which this procedure will be combined.” 

Campaign sees children screened

A campaign established by CooperVision which aims to raise funds to screen children in Tanzania has surpassed the company’s initial expectations, with enough raised to test 25,000 children to date. 
The ‘One Bright Vision’ initiative, which was established in partnership with Optometry Giving Sight, sees the contact lens giant make a donation for every pack of Biofinity sold. 
The initial stage of the campaign has led to 15 teachers from five different schools being trained to perform the screening, with 3,564 children already tested. It’s predicted that around 140 teachers will be taught basic refraction in 70 schools across Tanzania. 
The company aims to raise funds to provide 100,000 eye health screenings for children aged between seven and 12 years. 
Communications manager for CooperVision in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Heathcliffe Clash, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the on-going support we have received from practitioners and their patients for both the campaign and our Biofinity products. It is so rewarding to be able to help people and make a big difference to the lives of many children by providing the training for these essential eye health screenings.” 

GPs to help tackle sight loss gap

A sight loss charity is working with GPs to find a solution to tackle undiagnosed sight loss amongst older people which can be used in general practice. 
The Thomas Pocklington Trust invited 25 GPs to test a ‘rules of thumb’ idea to detect vision loss during routine consultations. Despite reporting that this was not the answer, the results highlighted a new approach which is now being developed in workshops. The aim is to train practitioners to recognise patterns and symptoms of sight loss by using case studies of people whose undiagnosed sight loss could lead to wider health issues. 
In 2008, a review of community screening for visual impairment in the elderly reported that older people’s routine GP visits could be used as an effective ‘case finding’ opportunity. As a result, the charity commissioned researchers from the University College London (UCL) to explore the possibilities. Two studies – FOCUS and BLIND – were developed to prompt simple screening questions about sight loss. 
The new approach is now being tested in training workshops for GPs as part of the WISH project – a Medical Research Council (MRC) funded study which trains practice nurses to identity older people with complex health and social care needs. 
UCL’s Professor Steve Iliffe, who led the research, said: “The input of GPs is invaluable if we are to reduce undiagnosed sight loss in older people. Their day-to-day experience is helping us to determine what can work in general practice. With heuristics they have sent us back to the drawing board but we are now testing ideas to tackle this serious health problem.”

Driving vision standard changes published

Changes to the minimum eye sight standards for driving in the UK have been confirmed by the Department for Transport following a public consultation. 
However, the Optical Confederation has expressed concerns about the ability to implement and enforce these changes, and is urging the Department for Transport and the DVLA to give this more thought.  
The changes to vision standards for all drivers include: reading a number plate from 20 metres and having a binocular visual acuity of 6/12 (0.5), with corrective lenses if required. Other stipulations state that if a driver has been advised by their doctor or optometrist that they cannot meet the required 6/12 with corrective lenses they must inform the DVLA, and that individuals are still not permitted to use telescope devices when driving. 
The consultation concerned proposals which closed in April 2011 and apply to car, motorcycle, lorry and bus drivers. 
The changes follow a recent joint call by the Optical Confederation, the Royal Sun Alliance (RSA) and Brake, to revisit eye sight testing standards legislation for new drivers.  
Speaking on behalf of the Optical Confederation, Mark Nevin (pictured) said: “Whilst it is helpful to know that the changes to drivers’ vision requirements have been proposed in regulations, we continue to raise concerns in Parliament about their implementation and enforcement, and hope that the Department for Transport and DVLA will give this further consideration. In particular, we feel that all drivers would benefit from regular reminders that it is their responsibility to meet the visual standards every time they drive.” 

Specialist clinic recognised

The Special Assessment Clinic at Cardiff University which provides eye care for people with learning disabilities has been acknowledged at the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) Autism Professional Awards. 
Recognised for ‘Clinical Excellence’ in providing specialist eye care services for people with autism and other forms of learning disabilities, the award was presented to them by NAS president, Jane Asher (pictured right), and comedian Kate Fox. 
The ceremony was hosted at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate on March 5.
Scooping the award for its innovative approach to eye care, the clinic has replaced traditional letter chart methods with specially adapted tests based on an individual person’s ability to perform a given task. 
Andy Millington (pictured left), academic lead and clinical optometrist at the clinic, said: “It is down to the fantastic work of the team at the Cardiff clinic that we have received this award. To be recognised as a national example of clinical excellence is a wonderful achievement and something all staff at the clinic should be truly proud of.
“We are delighted to be providing specialist eye care of the highest quality to all patients, including those with autism. And go above and beyond to ensure that patients with the condition get a first-class service that meets the needs.”
The clinic is the only one of its kind in the UK, and since opening in 1992 has treated more than 10,000 patients. 
Carol Povey, director of the centre for autism at the NAS, added: “The accomplishments of all of the Autism Professional Awards finalists are extremely impressive. These are organisations and individuals who have made a positive contribution to the autism community. The Special Assessment Clinic stood out for its innovative approach to eye care and the impact its work has had on families affected by autism in the UK. The service is a truly inspiring and deserving winner.”

Bionic Eye Sees Blind Read Letters

A new study has found that people with severe vision impairment as a result of retinitis pigmentosa are able to read letters and words with the aid of a bionic eye implant. 
Researchers from 10 centres across the globe, including Moorfields Eye Hospital, asked patients using the Argus II device if they could identify single letters, as well as two, three and four letters. An accuracy rate of 72% was reported for single letter identification when using the device, compared to 17% without the implant. 
In addition, participants showed 75% accuracy when reading two letters, and 58% accuracy when reading four. This group were also able to read letters as small as 0.9cm from a reading distance of 30m.
Published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, controlled data proved to researchers that patients would not have been able to complete the tasks when the device was disabled. 
Lead researcher and consultant retinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, Lyndon Cruz said: “The paper highlights data showing the tremendous potential of the Argus II to restore some meaningful vision in patients that otherwise would have been left blind. The fact that we are seeing many of our patients being able to recognise large letters, locate the position of objects and more, is truly encouraging and beyond initial expectations.” 
The retinal implant, which was developed by Second Sight, is the first and only device of its kind to be approved for use. 
President and CEO of Second Sight, Robert Greenburg, added: “These results are very exciting and add to the ever increasing data supporting the benefits of the Argus II. To me, it is just as gratifying that the devices and the benefit endure for a long period of time. We have people approaching six years of use with Argus II and over eight years of use with Argus I. The long-term benefit is what differentiated the Argus II from other early research efforts around the world and was a significant factor in gaining FDA approval.”

AOP calls for views on re-testing interval times

The AOP has launched a survey seeking practitioners’ views on re-test intervals. 
Sparked by the recent debate on the topic which has been emerging in particular PCT areas, the survey aims to help establish current ‘peer practice’ within the profession. 
The last survey of this kind was carried out in 2000, and the data fed into the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) about the frequency of sight tests between the Department of Health, the AOP and FODO. While this agreement currently still stands in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a separate agreement was established for Scotland. 
The agreement emphasised that the intervals agreed represented a minimum time period rather than a recommended time frame, and were based on ‘peer practice’ at the time. It is believed that a number of PCTs are currently claiming that typical frequencies should now be less than those stated in the MoU, despite no re-negotiation between the DoH and the Optical Confederation having taken place. The results of the new survey will aid the Association in its discussions with the National Commissioning Board on the topic.
While this survey calls specifically for responses from practitioners in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the AOP has confirmed that a survey designed for Scottish-based practitioners on the same topic will follow shortly.  
To take part in the survey, which will take no more than five minutes,

Dry Eye On The Rise

The number of dry eye syndrome cases are expected to rise by more than half a million by 2022, according to a new report from research and consulting company GlobalData. 
The statistics, which focus on the UK, America, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, China and India, estimate that as the average life expectancy rises, dry eye cases will increase from 195m in 2012 to 249m over the next 10 years. 
The ‘EpiCast report: dry eye syndrome – epidemiology forecast to 2022’, states that the prevalence of dry eye increases with age, with an estimated 15% of cases affecting people over the age of 65. However, researchers add that gender, particular medical conditions and modern conveniences can also contribute to a sufferer’s condition. 
As people age the production of oil in the body decreases, reducing tear production and increasing the evaporation of tears, and resulting in dry eyes. 
While it is predicted that China will have the largest number of prevalent cases, India is likely to be the second highest. 

Cause of Stargardt blindness disproved

Research by vision scientists in America has disproved the previous belief that a lack of very long chain fatty acids in photoreceptor cells caused blindness in children with Stargardt type 3 retinal degeneration. 
Researchers at the University of Utah’s John A. Moran Eye Center bred mice that lacked fatty acids in their photoreceptor cells and found that the eyesight of the mice was ‘normal.’
The cause for blindness in children with the incurable eye disease is now unknown. 
Leading researchers, David Krizaj, an associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the Moran Eye Center, stated: “There was no defect in their daytime or night time vision. The lack of very long chain fatty acids does not appear to compromise vision in itself.”
Type 3 Stargardt disease is a rare dominant form which is caused by a mutation in ELOVL4, a gene that encodes an enzyme which helps to make fatty acids gained through diet into forms which can be incorporated into cell membranes. In the past proving that the lack of fatty acids caused blindness has been difficult as mice which has ELOVL4 removed would not survive. Researchers overcame this problem by only engineering mice which only lacked the gene in their photoreceptor. 
Stargardt disease affects around one in 10,000 children between the ages of six and 20. While there is no treatment, evidence suggests that nutritional supplements and protecting the eyes from UV could slow the progression of blindness. 
“If it’s not the loss of fatty acids causing the disease, then we’ll have to find other strategies to help these kids,” professor Krizaj added.
The research was published in PNAS online

Call for university students with visual impairment

A Bristol University student would like to hear from people with visual impairment who are studying for a degree at a UK University.
Libby Hudson, who works at the Royal National College for the Blind, would like to find out what factors affect whether students with visual impairment are able to settle into university life and successfully complete their degrees. 
“At the moment, we know that students with visual impairment are less likely to complete their studies successfully,” she explained. “The situation may be improving, but it is still the case that, more generally speaking, undergraduates with declared disabilities are less likely to gain first class Honours degrees than their peers. 
“We know something about the barriers students face, but we need to know more about how students perceive those barriers, and about what forms of support are most effective and what other factors affect their chances of staying on course and achieving.”
Anyone who would like to support Ms Hudson with her dissertation work, which will help her complete her Masters Degree in the Psychology of Education, should send an email to

Older adults read easier on e-readers, despite preferring genuine books

Many older adults say that they prefer to read actual books rather than electronic books (e-books). However, German researchers have found that reading text on e-books requires less effort than reading on paper for these individuals.
“This suggests that the overwhelming public opinion that digital reading media, though convenient, reduces the pleasure of reading is a cultural rather than a cognitive phenomenon,” write the researchers in the journal PLOS ONE.
Led by Franziska Kretzschmar, from Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, the investigators used combined electroencephalography (EEG) and eyetracking measures to test whether reading from digital media requires higher cognitive effort than reading conventional books. 
Young (21-34 years) and elderly (60-77 years) adults were asked to read short texts on three different reading devices: a paper page, and e-reader and a tablet computer. They were asked to answer comprehension questions about them while their eye movements and EEG were recorded. They were also asked to answer a debriefing questionnaire.
Both groups of adults indicated they preferred reading from a paper page rather than the electronic devices on the questionnaire.
However, the researchers found that older adults spent less time fixating on the text and showed lower brain activity when using a tablet computer in comparison to the other two devices. By contrast, younger adults showed comparable results for all three devices.
“We argue that these results can be explained in terms of the better text discriminability (higher contrast) produced by the backlit display of the tablet computer. Contrast sensitivity decreases with age and degraded contrast conditions lead to longer reading times, thus supporting the conclusion that older readers may benefit particularly from the enhanced contrast of the tablet,” writes the team.

Depression linked to vision loss

Health professionals should be aware of the risk of depression among people who report visual function loss, researchers have warned after they found that more than 10% of US adults who report vision loss have clinical symptoms of major depression.
The study involved nearly 10,500 American adults aged 20 years or older. The researchers found that the prevalence of depression was 11.3% among people with vision loss, compared with just 4.8% for those with no vision problems.
Furthermore, adults with vision loss were 90% more likely to be depressed than those without vision loss.
For the study, researcher Xinzhi Zhang, from the National Institute of Health in Maryland, USA, and colleagues used 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data to estimate the prevalence of depression among adults reporting visual function loss and among those with visual acuity impairment.
The nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale was used to assess depression while vision loss was measured by visual function using a questionnaire and a visual acuity examination. 
The study found that depression (depression score of ≥10) was more common in those with vision loss compared to those with no vision loss: 13% versus 4.7% in those aged 20-39 years; 11.5% versus 6% in those aged 40-59 years and 9.6% versus 3% for those aged 60 years or older.
Writing in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, the researchers say: “This study provides further evidence from a national sample to generalise the relationship between depression and vision loss to adults across the age spectrum. Better recognition of depression among people reporting reduced ability to perform routine activities of daily living due to vision loss is warranted.”

Faster referrals could save sight, claims new report

A new report which highlights how optometrists can help prevent unnecessary sight loss as a result of wet AMD was published by the RNIB on Tuesday (March 19).
The Don’t lose sight! Don’t delay! report forms part of the charity’s Save our Sight (SOS) campaign and highlights that the time taken from first contact, referral and diagnosis of AMD differs vastly, with 69% of cases failing to be diagnosed in the recommended seven days. However, 74% of patients had contact with a community optometrist within this period. Wet AMD can lead to sight loss within as little as three months.
Other findings in the report state that delays caused by GPs and optometrists not following their local referral procedures could be prevented; patients can be referred between the GP and optometrists unnecessarily; and over referral due to a lack of appropriate technology was an issue. In addition, 34% of patients felt there was a lack of information and support available to them during referral and diagnosis.
As a result, the charity is calling on community optometrists to follow their local rapid referral pathway to help prevent sight loss. It is also urging local commissioners to fund technology such as OCTs in the community to help optometrists and GPs identify potential wet AMD patients. 
Optometrists can help prevent unnecessary sight loss of wet AMD patients by: making every contact count; ensuring patients understand that their referral is urgent; and knowing and using appropriate, local rapid referral pathways for the condition.
RNIB optometrist, Helen May said: “Optometrists play an important role in the community and can help to save the sight of many more wet AMD patients. It’s vital that patients get an urgent referral, diagnosis and treatment within the recommended 14 days guidance.
“We encourage optometrists to follow their local rapid referral guidelines when available, or use the fastest mode of referral if wet AMD is suspected.”

B+L withdraws Fluorets

Contact lens giant Bausch + Lomb (B+L) has stopped producing its Fluorets product worldwide, it emerged yesterday (March 21). 
The company has confirmed that it took the decision to cease production on commercial grounds, and claims that regulatory and safety issues were not a part of the decision. 
Trademarked by the business in 1987, B+L was the sole UK producer of fluorescein sodium ophthalmic strips which are an important tool in clinical and contact lens practice. 
B+L estimates that existing Fluorets stock will be depleted across the globe during May. It added that the remaining stock would be supplied in line with previous usage to ensure fairness. 
In a statement issued by the contact lens firm, it said: “This decision was made after carefully considering a variety of factors, including alternative diagnostic options, availability of raw materials and cost. It is not the result of any safety concern or 
product recall.”
While the College of Optometrists is expected to issue clinical advice on Fluorets in the coming days, the Optical Confederation has raised concerns about the impact that ceasing production could have on running costs for optical practices. As a result, the Confederation is actively seeking alternative sources of supply, but predicts this will be difficult. 
B+L will continue to produce minims fluorescein sodium 1% and 2% eye drop solutions, and has agreed to work in partnership with the Optical Confederation to ensure adequate supplies are available. 
Consultant optometrist and head of optometry at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, David Sculfor, told OT: “Every optometrist who does contact lens work uses Fluorets, either to check corneal integrity, or when fitting rigid lenses. Minims flourescein really isn’t a suitable alternative as it tends to flood the eye. Fluorescein only fluoresces below a certain concentration, and with a Minim it is very difficult to instill just the tiny amount needed. Patients won’t be happy either if they leave the clinic with yellow eyes and skin, and won’t be able to put their soft lenses back in until the fluorescein has washed out.”
Responding to the news, the GOC said that it was 'actively seeking clarity on the full implications for registrants and patients of Fluorets being withdrawn from the market. We do not regulate products or the optical marketplace.’
The regulator added: "We are in communication with stakeholders including the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), optical professional bodies and the UK health departments to obtain information on the legality of our registrants using possible alternatives to Fluorets." 

Saturday 9 March 2013

Please Help This Forum Evolve

There is a new UK based forum set up with a view to helping both patients and eye care professionals share advice and information with each other. There are many good Dry Eye forums such as the Dry Eye Zone, however these seem to be based in the USA.

If you are a professional who is willing to share your knowledge, or a Dry eye patient with personal experience and stories to tell.......

Please help this forum evolve!

Awareness Month

October has been named ocular myasthenia gravis awareness month by the Myasthenia Gravis Association. 
Ocular myasthenia gravis is an auto-immune condition which affect the eye muscles and causes blurred or double vision, and droopy eyes. 
As a charity, the association focuses on raising awareness of all forms of myasthenia, as well as raising funds for research into the condition. 
For more information, visit 

Friday 8 March 2013

NICE lucentis guidance welcomed

Pharmaceutical company Novartis has welcomed the publication of guidance on the use of Lucentis for some patients with visual impairment due to diabetic macular oedema. 
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published formal Technology Appraisal Guidance (TAG) on the condition earlier this month, which included recommending the drug specifically in diabetic macular oedema patients with a retinal thickness of 400 micrometres or more in the eye at the start of treatment. 
Commenting on the news on behalf of the RNIB, Clara Eaglen, eye health policy and campaigns manager, said: "We are pleased that NICE has published its final guidance recommending Lucentis for use in treating some patients with Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO) as this is something RNIB, along with a number of other charities, has been calling for since last year's initial decision not to make the treatment available.
"We believe NICE has thrown a lifeline to the growing number of people with diabetes facing blindness. DMO is a serious eye condition which can lead to sight loss as a result of fluid leaking from the small blood vessels in the eye. 
"Overall the decision is a step in the right direction and a decision that we hope will eventually be extended to reach all patients with DMO."
The latest backing of the drug, which is also known as ranibizumab, for the use in the treatment for some patients with diabetic macular oedema comes after NICE issued its Final Appraisal Determination recommending the drug in January. 
Novartis has labelled the guidance as ‘an important and long awaiting milestone in the management of this diabetes related eye disease.’ The company confirmed that it looks forward to working with the NHS to ensure that ophthalmology services are adequately supported to allow appropriate patients access to Lucentis. 
In December last year, Lucentis was approved to treat people in Scotland with vision impairment as a result of diabetic macular oedema. 

Findings could lead to new AMD treatments

Advancements in the understanding of why the human immune system can attack tissues and lead to the development of eye and kidney diseases have been reported by researchers at the University of Manchester. 
It is believed the findings could lead to the development of new treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). 
According to scientists, AMD can be associated with a protein called the complement factor H (CFH) which is present in the immune system and is responsible for regulating the complement cascade. A genetic alteration in CFH has been found to increase a person’s risk of developing AMD. However, due to its rarity, it has never been explored before.  
The two research groups, led by professors Tony Day and Paul Bishop, found that a common form of CFH, when altered, couldn’t bind properly to a layer under the retina called Bruch’s membrane. A reduced amount of CFH in this part of the eye leads to low-level inflammation and tissue damage, which can eventually lead to AMD. 
Professor Day explained: “For the first time we’ve been able to identify why these protein mutations are so tissue specific. We’re hoping our discovery will open the door to the development of tissue specific treatments to help the millions of people diagnosed with AMD every year.”
Researchers investigated two parts of CFH affected by the mutations, comparing the way the different regions of protein interacted with eye and kidney tissue. 
Dr Simon Clark said: “Our findings suggest that the particular structure within the eye and kidney tissue determines precisely how and where CFH will bind. It’s as if the tissues have their own molecular postcodes.”
The research was carried out at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Matrix Research and the Ophthalmology and Vision Research Group in the University of Manchester’s Institute of Human Development. It was funded by the Medical Research Council. 

1% voucher values increase is 'disappointing'

NHS optical voucher values will rise by 1% from April 1, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Earl Howe announced on Friday (March 1).
The increase, which follows a 2.5% rise in 2012, has been labelled ‘disappointing’ by the optometric fees review committee (OFRC), which has fought hard to highlight the importance of a further increase over the last 12 months. 
The vouchers are available for children, people on low incomes and individuals with complex sight problems, which help with the cost of buying spectacles. 
Annual increases to NHS dental and prescription charges were announced on the same day, with a 20p rise in the prescription charge to £7.85, and a 50p hike to the dental charge for one course of treatment to £18 confirmed. 
Secretary of the OFRC and interim chief executive of the AOP, Richard Carswell said: “This is very disappointing news. Once again optical patients are being penalised and optical providers are being asked to subsidise vision correction for the poorest in society in these toughest of trading times. Inevitably this will mean that fewer practices will be able to supply spectacles within NHS voucher values. OFRC has fought hard to put the case for a fair increase on behalf of patients. It is extremely saddening that our arguments have been disregarded.” 
Last year’s rise was the first increase in voucher values since April 2010. Prior to the two-year freeze, values rose by 2.7% and 2% in 2008 and 2009 respectively. 

Better driving vision standards called for

The Optical Confederation has joined forces with the Royal Sun Alliance (RSA) and Brake in a call for the Government to revisit legislation relating to eye sight testing standards for new drivers. 
Supporting two Early Day Motions which have been proposed by cross-party MPs John Leech, Barry Sheerman and David Amess, the motion labels the Government’s recent interpretation of an EU Driving Licence Directive as a ‘missed opportunity’ to raise drivers’ eyesight standards in the UK to reflect those in other European countries. 
Speaking on behalf of the Optical Confederation, Mark Nevin, said: “The Government’s implementation of the EU Directive, which simply retains the current number plate test as the main assessment of driver vision, does not go far enough. The Government has failed to use this opportunity to introduce a requirement for all drivers to have a professional assessment of vision when applying for a first licence and at all subsequent renewals.”
The call comes after the DVLA issued changes to minimum eyesight standards for driving in the UK, which included retaining the 20 metre number plate test. The changes, which follow a public consultation and apply to car and motorcycle (Group 1), and lorry and bus drivers (Group 2), will come into force on March 8. 
Research commissioned by the RSA as part of its ‘Fit to Drive’ campaign found that crashes in the UK caused by poor vision cost an estimated £33m annually. 
MP for Manchester Withington, John Leech, commented: “The UK’s current number plate test falls short of the standards for driver vision recommended in the European Directive. The Government needs to look again at the issue in order to reduce the number of crashes caused by poor vision and to improve road safety across the country.”

Lack of sight tests for children highlighted

Almost one in 10 parents cannot remember the last time their child had a sight test, new statistics released by the College of Optometrists have claimed. 
The Britain’s Eye Health in Focus report, which explored how people view their eye health and the role of the optometrist, also found that the same percentage of parents believed it could be over 10 years since their child’s last test.  
Despite 70% of parents saying they see sight tests as ‘very important’ for their children’s health, 25% admitted that their child had never had a sight test. 
Optometrist and College member with a specialist interest in paediatric optometry, Francesca Marchetti said: “It is essential that any problems with a child’s vision are picked up at an early stage when they are more likely to be treated effectively. Children won’t necessarily say ‘I can’t see that’ or know what is normal when it comes to their vision.”
Children are meant to be screened at school for vision at the age of four to five; however, provision of screening can be patchy, especially for those outside state schools with learning disabilities. This was highlighted in a 2011 Which? survey which showed one in five primary care trusts (PCTs) were not screening children for vision problems.  
Stressing the important role that optometrists can play in bridging the gap in areas where screening is not carried out, Ms Marchetti added: “Optometrists can play a significant role in detecting and recognising conditions that may affect a child’s sight by ensuring children receive the appropriate vision tests early enough to make effective treatment, if needed, possible.”
To view the full report, visit

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Tabloid reports third eye loss story with CLs

Tabloid newspaper The Sun has carried its third story in the past month on a contact lens wearer losing an eye after an infection.
In this case, a grandmother was reported to have developed Acanthamoebakeratitis after swimming while wearing contact lenses in a holiday pool in Kusadasi, Turkey in October. The Sun said that she needed to have her left eye removed and was now struggling to see from her other eye and has had to give up work.
It claimed that UK doctors first blamed conjunctivitis, then three weeks later 'an expert diagnosed the Acanthamoeba bug'.
Medics said a shower in Britain may also be to blame and warned against swimming or showering with lenses in.
On February 1 The Sun carried a report blaming Fusarium for the loss of a contact lens wearer's eye (Mum claims contact lens fungus ate away her eye), followed by another eye loss story through Fusarium on February 11 (Contact lens fungus ate my eye too).
The British Contact Lens Association said the infection rate of Acanthamoeba was approximately one in 30,000 contact lens wearers and its website explained that in around 85 per cent of cases the condition was associated with contact lens use.
Secretary general of the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers Simon Rodwell responded that it was very concerned at the misplaced attitude towards contact lenses and would give a formal response in due course.