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Archive for March, 2011

As old school ideas of 3D like these glasses meet Modern Technologies like the iPad, how will this affect News Coverage? The answer may be 105 years old.

Caught an interesting article in the Scientific American magazine online today. It was about stereoscopic color pictures of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake being found by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The pictures are now online too and most people will be able to view them as a 3D image. (If you have trouble doing this, it may be a sign of a vision problem, see me or your optometrist for an exam and more info).

Can making news images from around the world 'more real' inspire us to reach out and help more?

When I sat back from the computer, relaxed my eyes and viewed these images, I was amazed by the impact it had on me. All of the sudden, I was there on the scene, witnessing the heaps of debris and devastation firsthand. It got me thinking, with all this talk of 3D gaming and with advances in technology like the iPad and 3D TV, will we one day be viewing photographs from magazines and news articles in 3D? I found the earthquakes affecting Japan to be heart-breaking, I can’t fathom seeing the pictures from it with my full depth perception, as if I am there myself. Perhaps, it would inspire viewers to be even more sympathetic to people who are having catastrophic misfortunes happen to them and would better motivate them to reach out to those people and places in the world. It could just make this planet feel like an even smaller place and create more of a desire for peace, understanding and assistance to those in need.

When trying to view the images on the Scientific American website, you should sit a comfortable distance from your computer or viewing screen, an arm’s length away. Then relax your eyes as if you are looking right through your screen. You will see your vision double and create a third image in between the two actual images. This third image, once properly lined up, will be in 3D.

Newer technologies like Nintendo 3DS allow you to view scenes in three dimensions without having to wear 3D glasses and without the use of seperate kromogram images that you have to force your eyes to fuse. Not everyone’s eyes may be able to comfortably do this.

Again, if you are having difficulty with 3D viewing, you may be having a problem with your eye aiming and teaming skills. See me or your local optometrist for more details, there are ways we can help!

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Happily Researching and Writing on Topics requested by You!

I am so very thankful that I received requests from readers and friends on what topics I should present next on my eye blog. I really enjoy delving into subjects that I may not encounter everyday. It stimulates my curiosity and refreshes my knowledge.  I also love the idea that I am helping someone out there who has questions whether they are my patient or not. Everyone deserves the chance to understand, to truly understand, conditions that they or their loved ones encounter. I do my best to present things in a manner that is clear and concise, although at times, in science, that is a bit dicey. But even if you gain one small piece of information from reading this that you did not have before, to me, it is all worth it and I am happy to help. Also, if you have any more specific questions on this topic after reading this, Contact Me and I will do my best to answer them. Still accepting topic requests so don’t be afraid to propose new topics either. And with that said, onward and upwards we soar toward our next topic, acute macular neuroretinopathy which I will abbreviate from here on out as AMNR.

AMNR is a rare condition disrupting the structures in the outer retina of one or both eyes. It occurs mainly in young women in their ‘reproductive’ years ages 20-50. No treatment is given, the condition is self-limited and usually resolves on its own though it may take months. Recurrence in one or both eyes is possible though not common. Also, in two reported cases, doctors found AMNR was followed by MEWDS (Multiple Evanescent White Dot Syndrome).

What the Doctor looks for: Upon examination of the retina they will find the sudden presence of red, wedge-shaped lesions in the center of the retina pointing toward the macula, sometimes described as ‘petaloid’ in their shape. These lesions can be flat or depressed and are best seen in red-free light. (source 1). They may be accompanied by one or two flame-shaped hemorrhages.

What the Patient experiences: The patient’s vision is reduced since the retina, the sight-seeing tissue of the eye, is affected and they will complain of blurry vision. They will also experience the loss of ‘puzzle pieces’ surrounding their central vision, known as paracentral scotomas. These black spots in the vision may or may not resolve as the lesions fade. Also, the lesions themselves may never completely disappear.

Etiology/Where does it come from? So what causes these red lesions? Doctors are not sure. AMNR might be somehow linked to one or more of the following:

  • the use of oral contraceptives (birth control medication)
  • an acute viral illness with flu-like symptoms
  • upper respiratory symptoms
  • administration of vasconstricting drugs or epinephrine
  • shock or trauma
  • acute systemic hypotensive episodes

(source 2)(source 3)

What does the Future Hold? The good news is, since AMNR was first reported on by Bos and  Deutman in 1975, the technology for localizing the level of the damaged retina has improved drastically and we are beginning to understand more about this condition. Through the use of OCT and HRT technologies, diagnosis and follow up of AMNR in patients is becoming much easier than it was in the past (since biomicroscopic signs of the illness can sometimes be very subtle). (source 4) There are many recent and ongoing studies of AMNR involving the use of OCT and HRT being conducted as we speak. (source 5) (source 6) Perhaps as technologies and advances in our understanding of AMNR move forward, we will be able to learn even more about AMNR and find ways to treat and prevent it in the near future.

Now it’s time for the first ever Murphy Challenge!

The Murphy Challenge: Can you name five things depicted here (can be adjectives or nouns) that have to do with the above article you just read? Comment me your answers and I will post who gets them right!

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Vision Expo East: Where EyeCare and Fashion Eyewear Unite!

This weekend at the Jacob Javits Center I will be attending Vision Expo East and I could not be more excited! The Vision Expo is a huge event for everyone in the eyecare and fashion eyewear world. You get to learn about all of the latest technologies, browse and buy the latest frames, learn the newest trends, meet with industry reps from pharmaceutical, medical equipment sales, publications and contact lens companies, and also attend Continuing Education classes! It is something that I go to every year and that I enjoy very much!

One of the reasons why I love the Expo is there is nothing like being in New York City! After commuting into the City for four years while going to optometry school (and for two summers before optometry school while working as a research assistant there), I fell in love with it. Madly, deeply, in love with it. I know, I know, it is not for everyone, but NYC has a special place in my heart and always will.

Anyway, a couple of extra special things are happening at this year’s Vision Expo that have me really pumped up!

For one, I am attending a lecture on Nutrition by Dr. Jeffrey Anshel who is President and Founder of the Ocular Nutrition Society. As they say, “this guy really knows his stuff.” I love to learn all I can about nutrition and teaching my patients about it is one of my top priorities. Dr. Anshel is very knowledgeable and I always walk away inspired after hearing him speak. Needless to say, there will be another article on nutrition coming your way in the near future (I do have one other topic on deck beforehand that I received by request. I have almost finished my research for it and it will be coming soon, Matt).

Second, there will be celebrities at Vision Expo as there always is. They pose for pictures and give autographs but I never waited in the line to see anyone before. I would just get a brief, starstruck glimpse of them as I roamed past. This year, however, I am really beyond thrilled to get an autograph and picture with Lisa Loeb! I actually won a “Jump the Line” contest and will be cutting to the front of the line to meet her! Lisa Loeb is awesome! And this meeting is so significant to me because, back in 1994, when I was sixteen years old, I got my first pair of glasses. I remember telling the optometrist as we browsed through the walled racks, “I want ones just like Lisa Loeb has!” Who knew, that 16 years later, I would BE an optometrist and would have the chance to actually meet Lisa! It, to me, is incredible! Lisa has been doing a lot since her Number 1 hit, “Stay” came out. That is the song and video that put her on the map as a glasses fashion icon in my book! Lisa has now started her own line of glasses, Lisa Loeb Eyewear, which are tre chic and beautiful! They can be purchased online too! Check them out! I know I definitely will be trying them all on at Vision Expo East!

With that said, I will take as many pictures as I can and I will share them and my stories and experiences with you when I return.

I can hardly wait!

Cheryl G. Murphy, O.D.

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My Studies in Visual Development

My passion for Vision began with research.

 

When I was an undergraduate at SUNY Albany, I remember late nights and early mornings spent happily peering into a microscope. I was fortunate enough to work in the incredible laboratory of Dr. Suzannah Bliss Tieman, who studied neural visual development. Her enthusiasm for her work was infectious and it ignited my then small curiosity in vision into a lifelong passion for learning all I could on the subject.



Under her direction, I examined cross sections of the brain and measured angiogenesis, or blood vessel growth. Using a special computer aided drawing program that was superimposed with the image I was seeing in the oculars of my microscope, I could trace the length of the blood vessels in that slice of brain tissue and calculate their length. I was measuring blood vessels in the specific area of the brain that interprets vision. We were proving that when an eye was deprived of all visual information during its critical period of development, the neural connections in that ‘vision center’ of the brain would also be decreased and underdeveloped. If this part of the brain is underdeveloped, then you may not see as clearly or at as high a resolution as the average person can. You can think of it as the brain not enabling your eyes to see the world with the proper number of “pixels.”



Definition of Amblyopia

 

 

 

A decrease in the best corrected vision, usually in one eye, due to a “disturbance in retinal image formation” (source 1) during the critical period or during the “first ten years of human life.”



The formation of Amblyopia



When your brain and your eyes are first developing, neural connections are formed. These connections will help our brain to interpret what our eyes are seeing as well as the level of detail that they can see. If something reduces the amount of information that the eyes can take in (for example if the eye is aimed off center from where it should be looking), it lessens how much the brain can interpret and decreases the overall number of neural connections in the brain. When the visual areas of the brain are not utilized to their potential, the overall output of the brain is diminished. In other words, if something stops you from seeing great detail when your brain and your eyes are going through their critical period of development, the neural connections that you need in order to achieve good, clear vision may be reduced permanently.* You may not end up seeing 20/20 vision. The good news is, there are, of course, exceptions.

The brain has high plasticity, its “wiring” can be changed, particularly when you are young.*If you ‘exercise’ the eye as directed by your eye doctor, you can strengthen these connections and improve the resolution of your vision. Most doctors say these connections have the best opportunity to be strengthened before about eight years of age. However, there is a chance to improve your best potential vision and re-wire the brain even into your adult years but it would require more time and more intensive therapies.

 

Causes and Treatments


There are different causes for amblyopia, some examples are listed below:

  • strabismus (an eye turn)
  • when one eye has a large amount of uncorrected refractive error (nearsight, farsight or astigmatism) compared to the other eye (blurred input from one eye).
  • a medical condition such as a cataract (blocked/blurred input from one eye)

Treatments for amblyopia include eliminating the cause of the amblyopia and also, strengthening the weaker of the two eyes. Strenghtening the amblyopic eye can be achieved by blocking the sight in the good eye through patching the good eye for a period of time each day or by giving eyedrops such as atropine that temporarily blur only the good eye. This essentially forces the amblyopic eye to seek more visual information, to really pay attention to what it is looking at so it can re-wire and add some new neural connections to the visual area of the brain, making your best potential vision better!

Concluding Thoughts


The brain is an amazing structure. The way it directs and choreographs our body and its development, is even more amazing. To learn more about amblyopia you can click here, and don’t forget to visit your eye doctor. They are happy to answer all of your questions.

Epicanthal folds of an infant or a turned eye, let your eye doctor make the call!

 

If you are a parent, consider bringing your baby into a participating INFANT SEE doctor and receive a eye exam within their first year of life at no charge. Also, any time you are suspicious of problem with your child’s vision or eyes including a possible eye turn or if one or both eyes are not seeing as well as you think they should, bring your child to the eye doctor immediately. As a mother and a doctor I would advise you to, it is always a good thing to have your suspicions checked out. Keep in mind that the younger a patient is when diagnosed with amblyopia, the faster treatment can start and the better their vision will be for life! When in doubt, get it checked out!

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