Article Date: 3/1/2010

Wise to the World

Wise to the World

By Erin Murphy, Associate Editor

Will Routine Eye Exams Become Front-Line Screening for Alzheimer's?

Scientists are always searching for ways to diagnose Alzheimer's disease early, when it may be possible for treatments to minimize its effects. The results of a recent study show early detection might be possible with a simple, inexpensive screening test practitioners could perform during routine eye exams.

In this study, published in the journal Cell Death & Disease, researchers applied fluorescent eye drops to the eyes of mice, then took infrared images with a confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope. The fluorescent dye labeled damaged nerve cells in the retina, which correlated to damaged brain cells. Researchers counted the fluorescing dots of damaged cells and determined that subjects with more than 20 dots may have Alzheimer's. Human trials using this technique are under way and may be complete within 2 years.

Source: Cordeiro MF, Guo L, Coxon KM et al. Imaging multiple phases of neurodegeneration: A novel approach to assessing cell death in vivo. Cell Death and Disease (2010). Published online January 2010.

Taking a New Look at the Origin of Diabetic Retinopathy

Doctors have long known that in patients with diabetic retinopathy, retinal damage occurs during periods when the blood glucose level is high. But what process makes this happen?

In a recent study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers say they have identified the cell mechanism that causes diabetic retinopathy—a discovery that may lead to future treatments.

Scientists know the protein glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) enters the nuclei of Müller cells, accumulates and causes Müller cells to die. This results in the vascular damage associated with diabetic retinopathy. Now researchers have determined how GAPDH gets into theMüller cells: High blood glucose triggers the body to produce the siah-1 protein, which carries GAPDH into the Müller cell nuclei.

Previously, researchers were not aware that the siah-1 protein was present in the retina. Now they have determined its role in diabetic retinopathy and, interestingly, that reducing siah-1 protein keeps GAPDH out of the Müller cell nuclei, preventing their death. The results point to the possibility that diabetic retinopathy could be prevented by stopping siah-1 production, something researchers will continue to investigate for the future.

Event Deadlines

Planning to attend professional meetings this year? Here are a few early deadlines to keep in mind:

American Optometric Association: March is the month to make your final arrangements for the AOA meeting June 16-20 in Orlando. The deadline for discounted early-bird registration and CE fees is April 1—after that, the premium rate applies. According to the American Optometric Student Association, April 1 is also the cutoff for students to apply for travel grants for the meeting. Get all the details at optometrysmeeting.org.

American Academy of Optometry: Fellowship candidates should submit proposed plans to their regional chairs by April 1. Find information at aaopt.org.

Helping Haiti

Optometry Giving Sight, the "global fundraising initiative that specifically targets the prevention of blindness and impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error," has been working to raise funds for the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti.

In particular, along with partner organizations Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, the International Centre for Eyecare Education and the Caribbean Optometrists Association, Optometry Giving Sight's efforts are aimed at ensuring vision care for survivors now and in the future as the island nation rebuilds. Learn how you can help at givingsight.org.



Optometric Management, Issue: March 2010