Treating Stargardt Disease

Scientists have developed an experimental treatment that could help prevent Stargardt disease, a rare eye disorder which affects only 30,000 Americans. As part of an experimental treatment study, Stargardt was selected as the main focus of the study because it is linked to only one gene out of almost 200 that have the potential to cause vision degeneration.

After years of research, scientists are now begining clinical trials on a treatment to Stargardt that will hopefully translate well into treatments for other vision diseases. Stargardt is caused by the body being incapable of properly recycling vitamin A, and the vitamin building up inside of the eye and clumping.

By modifying vitamin A to not clump, scientists believe that they can prevent Stargardt from causing permanent blindness. There is also hope for a surgery that replaces the cells inside of the eye with new, non-diseased retinal cells. Of the 30 patients, 9 have undergone the surgery, and several have reported improvements to vision.

A different round of testing on a different form of blindness called Leber’s congenital amaurosis happened in 2009. Of the patients that recieved the injection, all of them were legally blind, and since then, almost half of them are no longer considered legally blind.

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Can Your Eye Control a Computer?

Researchers in England have recently designed a new method of controlling computers and video games, with your eyes. Built for less than 30 dollars, the device accurately tracks eye location, allowing the user to control a cursor just like a mouse.

A report from the Journal of Neural Engineering tells us about the technology, recently being demonstrated by Imperial College London, allowing a group of players to play Pong without any kind of hand controls, as well as letting the users write e-mails and browse the internet, completely hands free. According to Dr Aldo Faisal, the players were able to deftly use the device within minutes.

The device, built with two cameras attached to a pair of glasses, takes rapid snapshots of the pupil to determine where it is pointing, and is even capable of determining how far away you are looking. This would allow a wheelchair to be controlled accurately and with little effort.

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Learning to See Through Music

For those of us who can see, reading this sentence may seem as easy as sipping your cup of tea or picking something out to wear for the day, but what about people who are blind? That’s what a sensory substitution device (SSD) can be used for.

In a new study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, an SSD was used to teach sighted users to accurately “see” through music in just half an hour. The device, known as EyeMusic, converted the visual world into a series of auditory notes, with individual sounds representing unique colors.

According to Dr. Shelly Levy-Tzedek, “Participants were able to use auditory information to create a relatively precise spatial representation.” It was discovered that very little training was required for people to create an understanding of the space around them just using sound.

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Zebrafish May Shed Light on Eye Care

According to the International Centre for Eyecare Education almost 4 billion people suffer from refractive errors caused from eyes not being shaped or sized correctly. That’s about 50% of the world. Research done by a Purdue University student may soon have an impact on that.

The zebrafish, a popular research specimen, may have recently revealed an impressive secret to scientists. The chemical phenylthiourea, which is used to remove the black coloring from zebrafish so that researchers can more accurately see what is going on with the fish, was recently discovered to also decrease the size of the eye of the fish.

Growth in the body is influenced by the thyroid, and it is now theorized that phenylthiourea is similar to a naturally occuring thyroid inhibitor. It was found that when the enzyme thyroid peroxidase was inhibited in a zebrafish, that fish had smaller eyes.

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Meet Dr. Dani Simpson

Dr. Douglas Jeske and his staff are excited to introduce Dr. Dani Simpson.

Dr. Simpson has joined the team at Tumwater Eye Center and VUE Vision Uniquely Experienced.  An Olympia High School graduate, Dr. Simpson went on to earn her bachelor of science degree from Western Washington University. Shortly after finishing college she decided to pursue a career in Optometry, attending Pacific University College of Optometry and earning her doctorate of optometry with distinction.

Dr. Simpson is enthusiastic about being an eye doctor because it incorporates her interests of science and medicine and her desire to teach and help others.  She is very proud to have the opportunity to care for the vision and eye health needs of those in her home community.

Optometrist, Dr. Dani Simpson is now scheduling comprehensive eye exam appointments in Tumwater, at Tumwater Eye Center, and in downtown Olympia, at VUE.

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Does your back-to-school checklist include an eye exam?

It’s that time of year again and our kids are heading back to school. Whether your child is heading back to a familiar classroom or starting their very first year, we have one thing to add to your back-to-school checklist: a comprehensive eye exam.

Vision and learning and interdependent, with experts estimating that 80% of learning comes through a child’s eyes. “Healthy vision is critical to learning and excelling in school” confirms Dr. Pamela Lowe. A comprehensive eye exam can detect problems like astigmatism, farsightedness, and eye coordination – issues that directly relate to a child’s experience in the classroom.

The American Optometric Association reports that 64% of teachers saw a marked improvement in a child’s academic performance or behavior after the child was diagnosed and treated for a vision problem. If your child experiences any of the following, you should consult with an Olympia optometrist:

  • Squints when reading or watching television
  • Holds books or papers close to face
  • Experiences headaches
  • Rubs eyes
  • Loses place while reading
  • Avoids close work
  • Consistently performs below potential
  • Struggles to complete work
  • Has behavioral problems
  • Turns or tilts head when looking at things

So when you’re buying pencils and paper, remember to bring your loved ones in to our downtown Olympia eye care center for their comprehensive eye exams. Our friendly optometrist, Dr. Douglas Jeske, has treated hundreds of children and families and would love to answers any questions you may have about your child’s eye health.

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Dark chocolate improves vision? Yes please!

Calculators, peachy folders, and back to school eye exams, oh my. If you’re feeling stressed about sending the kids to school this fall, bust out the chocolate!

A recent study from the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience & Neurodynamics has found that the antioxidants from cocoa products can improve your vision and memory. Over the course of the study, scientists found evidence of visual and cognitive improvement as early as two and a half hours after eating cocoa flavenol rich foods, such as unsweetened dark chocolate.

Researchers found that high amounts of cocoa flavanols improved the ability to detect random movements, as well as increasing contrast sensitivity. It was also discovered that cocoa flavanols improve spatial memory and reaction time, and the author of the studies noted that “a reduction in the time required to integrate visual motion could be beneficial in time critical everyday tasks, such as driving.”

Olympia optometrist Dr. Douglas Jeske provides annual comprehensive eye exams from downtown Olympia eye clinic Vision Uniquely Experienced, where you can buy contacts or glasses and find all that you need to keep your eyes in tip top shape.

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What do zebrafish and vision health have in common?

If you are overdue for an annual comprehensive eye exam or find yourself experiencing troubling symptoms in regards to healthy vision, make an appointment with an optometrist in Olympia, like Dr. Douglas Jeske. Dr. Jeske is a licensed optometrist who treats children, adults, and seniors in the heart of downtown Olympia. Free parking and a relaxed boutique environment are the perfect recipe for a midday appointment, so don’t hesitate – call us today.

According to the International Centre for Eyecare Education, almost 4 billion people suffer from refractive errors caused from eyes not being shaped or sized correctly. That’s about 50% of the world! Research done by a Purdue University student may soon reveal an exciting new revelation on what impacts the development of the size and shape of the eye.

The zebrafish is a commonly used fish when it comes to scientific research. However, scientists recently discovered that when administering the chemical phenylthiourea to the fish, which is used to remove the black coloring so that researchers can more accurately see subtle physiological changes, the zebrafish’s eyes became smaller.

Essentially, growth in the body is influenced by the thyroid, and phenylthiourea is similar to a naturally occurring thyroid inhibitor. It was found that when the enzyme thyroid peroxidase was inhibited in a zebrafish, that fish had smaller eyes. What does this mean for humans? Perhaps the discovery of this chemical’s impact on eye size can later be used in humans when a bulging or oversized eye is causing vision problems, such as in Graves Disease.

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Convergence insufficiency may be diagnosed as something more sinister

Normally when you look at a something close up, your eyes move together to focus on it, and refocus futher out when you view an object far away. Unfortunately, there are some people who experience a disorder known as convergence insufficiency where this doesn’t happen correctly.

Sufferers of convergence insufficiency may show signs and symptoms such as double or blurred vision, floating words while reading, eyestrain, or closing one eye while focusing on something. A person with convergence insufficiency may have excellent vision even though they are experiencing these symptoms.

Usually diagnosed at a young age, it can cause reading to become difficult, and can sometimes even appear to be a learning disability instead. Young people may be wrongly diagnosed for disorders like A.D.H.D. and depression, and put on unnecessary medication.

It’s important to know that symptoms are not always present for everyone, and not everyone who has symptoms such as these suffers from convergence insufficiency. If you feel you or a family member may be experiencing symptoms or if you witness your child having difficultly reading or focusing on objects, consulting with Olympia eye care professional Dr. Douglas Jeske is an excellent next step.

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Avoidable blindness

Dr. Douglas Jeske is a Tumwater eye doctor with a deep devotion to community health and preventing eye disease.

What causes “avoidable blindness”?

Avoidable blindness can be caused by a number of things, one of which is onchocerciasis. Onchocerciasis is caused by the parasite Onchocerca volvulus which is transmitted by the blackfly species. Of the 37 million people worldwide that are infected, most of them are in West, Central, and East Africa, Latin America, and Yemen.

About 300,000 people around the world are blind from this infection, but preventative steps include controlling blackfly populations with pesticides. The WHO Onchocerciasis Control Programme, started in 1974, was extremely effective, saving 40 million people from infection and eye lesions by 2002, and 600,000 people from blindness.

While the program hopes to eliminate blindness caused by onchocerciasis by 2020, they are limited by things like war, lack of political support, insufficient resources, and slow socioeconomic development in target countries.

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