The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology's 2010 Annual Meeting took place May 2 to 6 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attracted about 10,500 attendees from around the world, and featured more than 6,000 presentations. The meeting's theme -- "For Sight: The Future of Eye and Vision Research" -- embraced advances in the basic science and clinical treatment of eye diseases.
David G. Hunter, M.D., of Children's Hospital Boston, and trustee for ARVO's Eye Movements/Strabismus/Amblyopia/Neuro-Ophthalmology section, cited a study presented by researchers from the University of Western Ontario, who encapsulated water-soluble proteins into porous nanoparticles which were incorporated into disposable contact lenses. The study suggested that such a delivery system could do away with the many inconveniences and inefficiencies associated with eye drops. "All of those things could go away if you could instead have the medications embedded in a contact lens," Hunter said.
Hunter also cited a study presented by researchers from the National Eye Institute, who analyzed dietary habits in more than 4,200 seniors, and found that those with the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids had the lowest ratings of age-related macular degeneration severity. "Even though there are new medications that help with macular degeneration, there are some forms that don't respond," Hunter said. "So there's a relatively innocuous nutritional intervention that could lead to prevention of vision loss from macular degeneration."
A study presented by an international team of researchers found that subjects in the lowest two quartiles of intentional physical activity, and those in the highest quartile of television viewing had wider retinal venular caliber, although the findings suggested that this may not be true in black individuals. "It's not setting you up for eye diseases, but it's basically telling you what's happening in the vascular system more generally," Hunter said.
A different international team of researchers presented a study in which they reviewed known retinal injury thresholds from studies of mammalian retinae. Their results suggested that previously developed photochemical retinal exposure limits are not applicable for ophthalmic instrument exposure, particularly for eyes that have been anesthetized during surgical procedures. "I think you can accurately say that this study indicates that there may be more damage in patients who are anesthetized," Hunter said. "So it may be important to take extra care when exposing the eye to light during surgery or diagnostic techniques if the patient is anesthetized."
According to other research presented at the meeting, the hepatic lipase gene LIPC, which is involved in the metabolism of high-density lipoprotein, may be strongly associated with age-related macular degeneration. "The other macular degeneration genes have had to do with inflammation mediators, so this is a different category of genes," Hunter said.
Hunter co-wrote a study showing that children with Down syndrome have an accumulation of amyloid-β in their lenses similar to that seen in patients with Alzheimer's disease. "The 21st chromosome has the amyloid protein on it, so they get an extra dose of amyloid protein," Hunter said. "It explains why those children develop more cataracts than average, and is one more reason that kids with Down syndrome should have routine eye observations."
In addition, Hunter cited an animal study presented by researchers from Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School suggesting that anti-angiogenic medications may be protective in mature eyes but do not prevent vascular abnormalities in immature eyes. "Right now there is a big rush to treat babies with retinopathy of prematurity with anti-angiogenic medications such as Avastin and Lucentis," Hunter said. "This is the first clear evidence that this treatment may be harmful in babies."
ARVO's immediate past president Todd P. Margolis, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and trustee for ARVO's Immunology and Microbiology section, cited a study by researchers from the University of Virginia suggesting that the addition of an optical attachment to a digital camera could provide primary care physicians with an inexpensive tool to screen for diabetic retinopathy. "Talk about a game-changing technology," Margolis said. "In primary care settings, you could use these cameras to screen for very prevalent eye diseases that people don't know they have. It's a low-tech solution to a major problem."
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