Archive for February, 2009

Amare Stoudemire, a forward-center for the Phoenix Suns, has had to take a ‘time out’ for the season after experiencing visual disturbances during a game against the Clippers on February 18th. It is reported that ‘he was bothered by the eye during an inbound play and then continued motioning toward it after trying to block an Al Thornton slam. He came out of the game briefly but re-entered and finished with 42 points, his second best scoring game of the season.'(source)

Sources say he was struck in the eye while fouling Al Thorton but was talking to his teammates about how much his eye bothered him even before the game started. (source: Arizona Republic 2/20/09) This is not the first time he has had eye-related problems and injuries. Back in October he was accidentally hit in the eye during training camp by a teammate which resulted in a torn iris to the same eye.

A retinal detachment is a very serious condition which can lead to permanent vision loss. The retina is the sight-seeing tissue that lines the inside of the eye. You can think of it as “film for your eye’s camera.” In this tissue, the image of what you are seeing is captured and sent to the brain for “developing” or interpreting. If the structure of the retina is disturbed or damaged, the image of what you are seeing can not be captured and vision is lost. That is why it is so important to protect the retina. You can do this by getting yearly eye exams and having your pupils dilated so early structure changes in the retina can be detected and cared for.

Blunt trauma is not always the cause of a retinal tear or detachment, they also can happen ‘spontaneously without injury.’

You are at a greater Risk for a tear or detachment if you:

  • are Nearsighted (have Myopia)
  • have had a Retinal Detachment in the other eye
  • have a Family history of Retinal Detachments
  • have had cataract surgery
  • have had other retinal diseases or conditions such as retinoschisis, uveitis, lattice degeneration, Degenerative Myopia
  • and of course, trauma/injury to the eye or orbit (which accounts for Amare’s sports related injury)

Symptoms of Retinal Tears or Detachments are:

  • Seeing Flashes of light or ‘lightening bolts’ in your vision
  • Seeing a sudden or gradual increase of Floaters which can appear as little dots that swarm into your field of vision, or cobwebs or curtains that block part or all of your vision in either eye

A retinal detachment is a medical emergency and should be taken seriously. You should seek treatment immediately upon experiencing any changes in your vision particularly but not limited to flashes and floaters as we discussed. In my personal opinion, if Amare sensed something was wrong with his vision, his medical team should not have let him re-enter the game, I don’t care how many points he ended up scoring. Amare’s injury may have cost him the season, but it could have cost him a lot more. He is one of the lucky ones. After surgery was performed on his partially torn retina, his prognosis looks good and he is expected to recover in eight weeks (two days too late for this year’s season).

Bottom line, retinal detachments can cost you your sight. Take a proactive, preventitive approach towards protecting your eyes and your vision. Get yearly eye exams including the dilation of your pupils so that your eye doctor can examine your retinas properly. Know the warning signs of retinal detachments and “if you see something, say something.” When in doubt, get it checked out.


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Lumigan, a prescription eye drop medication used to treat glaucoma,  is now shaking things up in the cosmetic industry and ruffling a few feathers along the way. While using it for its intended purpose, to lower the internal pressure of the eye and prevent damage to optic nerve in glaucoma patients, doctors and patients using the drop noticed something more- the growth of thicker, longer, more ‘lustrious’ eyelashes after using Lumigan for a period of one to three months. Allergan, maker of Botox and of Lumigan, is now looking at this medication and its unique side effect a little closer and so is everyone else.

It is not yet known how bimatoprost, the active ingredient in Lumigan, changes the structure of eyelashes but that did not stop some from taking advantage of its off-label use. Cosmetic companies threw caution to the wind and began adding Lumigan or similar prostaglandins to their mascara, not considering the potential unknown risks to their consumers. Eye lash enhancer products were sold in containers resembling mascara tubes with an applicator brush or tip and instructions to apply the product to the lashline. These eyelash enhancer products sold from $140 to $160 in spas and some cosmetic dermatology offices. In November 2007, the FDA raided a warehouse in San Jose California owned by Jan Marini Skin Research and seized thousands of tubes of Age Intervention Eyelash stating that the product contained a drug that was ‘unapproved and misbranded.’ An FDA spokesperson commented on the seize saying Age Intervention Eyelash, if used together with a prescription glaucoma drug, could increase the risk of optic-nerve damage. Used on its own, the product “may cause other adverse effects,” including swelling of the retina and inflammation in the eye “which may lead to decreased vision.” (source: WSJ 11/19/07)

Besides those serious, sight-threatening side effects, prostaglandins can also cause ‘darkening (increase in pigmentation) of the eye color, eyelid, and eyelashes. ‘ Darkening of the eyelid and eyelashes may be reversed if the drug is stopped, darkening of the iris is not reversible and will be permanent! (source Allergan) This is a huge issue! This means if you have green eyes or a light iris color, you may end up turning the color of your iris to brown, PERMANENTLY! I don’t think the average consumer who comes into my office looking for the latest ‘beauty secret’ to make their lashes longer realizes or understands this! Other unpleasant side effects include eye redness and itchy eyes.

Allergan itself filed patent infringement lawsuits against cosmetic companies they suspect may be using a prostaglandin in their products. They are rumored to be testing Lumigan and conducting research to possibly develop their own lash-enhancing cosmetic product that has been proven safe for consumer cosmetic use. This would be similar to what they did with Botox, first using it for many years to treat eyelid spasms and other neuromuscular problems before testing and marketing it for its more popular anti-aging treatment for wrinkles today.

On this issue,  I feel that a lot more research and testing needs to be done before any non-glaucoma patients or cosmetology connoisseurs have access to this drug. Right now, it is a drug with a purpose. Until more testing and modification is done, I would not recommend the use of this product by anyone unless you have glaucoma and are prescribed it by a doctor for that purpose. The beauty benefits do not outweigh the permanent risks. *

Stick with Maybelline, girls!

*Recent Update under Comments!

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