Month: February 2017

Could 3-D Retina Transplants Put a Stop to Degenerative Blindness?

The Hargrave Eye Center’s latest post:

More than two million Americans suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). While AMD does not result in total blindness, it is the leading cause of vision loss among Americans age 50 and above, and it causes sufferers to slowly lose central vision and interferes with an individual’s ability to drive, read, write, recognize faces, and more. There is no cure for AMD, although doctors can prescribe treatments in an effort to slow its progression.

AMD is only one of several degenerative eye conditions that lead to vision loss for which there has been no cure since it is caused by the actual decay of structures within the eye. However, this may soon change thanks to a groundbreaking advance in medicine: the development of transplantable 3-D retinas.

A team of researchers at California-based AIVITA Biomedical led by CEO Hans Keirstead, PhD have successfully used human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to develop a 3-D “retinal organoid” made of laminated retinal progenitor cells and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). In preclinical studies, the researchers showed that, when injected into the eye, the organoid was able to form synaptic connections with existing tissue and thus restore vision.

“The cause for hope for transplanting a 3-D retina has never been greater,” Keirstead told Modern Retina. “We have been on a relatively long journey, but are now at a point where we will be walking along a well-articulated path that will lead us to the beginning of our first in-human study.”

Keirstead, who suspects that a clinical research phase for the 3-D retinas may be as soon as two years away, explained that AIVITA’s target population is patients with degenerative disease of the outer retina, like AMD or retinitis pigmentosa. The 3-D retinas can be transplanted in the patient’s eye to replace the diseased or non-functional photoreceptors and RPE and establish new, functional connections with the inner retina and restore lost vision.

Of course, there are still a number of challenges ahead of the researchers, and the retinas are still years away from becoming commercially available for patients. But the possibility that 3-D retinas could be viable for use in patients opens the door for millions of patients, potentially, to get their sight back.

from Hargrave Eye Center | Corneal Transplantation

The Most Common Contact Lens Mistakes

The Hargrave Eye Center’s latest post:

In the United States, over 30 million people wear contact lenses–that’s nearly 10% of the total population. However, despite how common contact lenses are, it’s very easy for their users to make mistakes with them; in fact, according to a recent study, 99% of contact users in the U.S. reported routinely making at least one risky or unsafe behavior with their contacts that could drastically increase their risk of eye infection. It’s easy to make mistakes when you don’t know what they are, so take a look at this list of some of the most common mistakes people make with their contacts!


While some contacts advertise themselves as “extended wear” and safe to wear while sleeping, there are still issues that arise when you keep your contacts on through the night. For one, the contact lens is a barrier that prevents oxygen from reaching your corneas, which they need in order to function properly. On top of that, your contacts can rip while you sleep and lead to irritation, discomfort, and potentially risk of serious infection. Be sure to take out your contacts before you go to sleep!

Showering or Swimming

Most water sources are home to a microorganism known as Acanthamoeba, and it can cause serious infections and even blindness. Since your contacts will absorb and retain water–which may or may not contain acanthamoeba–swimming or showering while wearing your contacts can drastically increase your risk of infection and blindness.

Cleaning Contacts with Tap Water

Acanthamoeba can live in tap water, so using it to clean your contacts can be another way of increasing your exposure to the dangerous microorganism and other bacteria. Additionally, since your contacts absorb and retain water, cleaning them in the tap can cause the lenses to become distorted and lose their shape.

Using Contacts Past their Expiration

Old contacts are a hub for germs, old proteins, solutions, and more, so wearing old contacts or lenses that are past their expiration date can mean applying a paradise of germs and spoiled fluids directly to your eyes; that’s practically an invitation for discomfort and infection. Make sure that you replace your contacts in a timely fashion when they expire.

Not Replacing the Case

Just like old contacts, the case for your lenses can become a petri dish of germs and expired solution–which will affect your lenses–if not properly cared for. Clean your case with solution at least once a day, and aim to replace the case every three months.

from Hargrave Eye Center |Ocular Health Experts

Tips for Preventing Dry Eyes

The Hargrave Eye Center’s latest post:

One of the most common and most frustrating eye problems isn’t necessarily related to vision loss or trauma, but dryness. In fact, dry eye syndrome affects millions of Americans each year, which can cause an irritated, burning sensation and can actually reduce a patient’s clarity of vision.

The eye has several sources of moisture. The lacrimal gland, for example, produces tears, and each time you blink, a layer of tears spreads across your eye. This layer of moisture is essential for your eyes: It lubricates the eye, reduces your risk of eye infection, keeps the eye free of foreign objects, and helps to ensure clear vision. If your eyes do not produce enough tears or if they produce low-quality tears, however, then you develop dry eye syndrome, which can lead to a scratchy or burning sensation in the eyes, excess watering, blurred vision, and other symptoms.

There are a number of factors that can affect tear production and dry eyes. For example, aging slows tear production, as do certain medications, use of contact lenses, staring at electronics for too long without blinking, and more. However, there are simple things that you can do to reduce your risk or to treat dry eyes!

Drink More Water

In order for your eyes to produce tears, your body needs to be hydrated. Make sure that you drink several glasses of water every day so that your body has enough moisture to produce tears and keep your eyes from drying out!

Take Frequent Breaks from Screen Time

Spending time on computers and using mobile devices is a fact of daily life, but spending too much time staring at screens can strain your eyes and cause them to dry out. When you use electronics for prolonged periods of time, try to blink more frequently as a way of re-lubricating your eyes and take periodic breaks from your devices.

Use Artificial Tears

Artificial tears are available over the counter, so they’re easily accessible. Be careful not to overuse them, however, but if taken properly, artificial tears can be a great way to help you fight dryness!

Be Careful for Air Movement

Strong winds, fans, or even devices like hair dries that move air around can cause your eyes to become dried out. Reduce your exposure to these factors as much as possible and consider wearing wraparound sunglasses on windy days to protect your eyes.

from Hargrave Eye Center |Ocular Health Experts