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5 things you need to know: ocular syphilis outbreak, predicting myopia, more


Healthcare professionals on the West Coast have been warned to be on the lookout for ocular syphilis after more than a dozen cases have been reported in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles since December 2014, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Cases of ocular syphilis on the rise on the West Coast

Los Angeles-Healthcare professionals on the West Coast have been warned to be on the lookout for ocular syphilis after more than a dozen cases have been reported in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles since December 2014, according to the Los Angeles Times. At least two men have gone blind after contracting the disease.

According to the AIDS Health Foundation, many of the cases involved gay men and several of those infected are also HIV-positive. The organization is stressing the importance of regular check-ups for sexually active individuals.

Formulary Watch: FDA grants first-ever CLIA waiver of rapid syphilis test

Ocular syphilis is typically a complication of primary or secondary syphilis and some strains of Treponema pallidum, the bacterium that causes syphilis, may be more likely to cause eye or central-nervous-system disease. 

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sexually-transmitted disease (STD) surveillance report found that California’s syphilis rate was second in the U.S. only to Georgia. Los Angeles County was named in the CDC report as having the highest number of primary and secondary syphilis cases of any county in the nation.

Next: One test can predict which kids will become myopic


One test can predict which kids will become myopic

Columbus, OH-Researchers at The Ohio State University recently conducted a study over 20 years of 4,500 U.S. children and identified a single test that can predict which kids will become myopic by the eighth grade-a measure of their current refractive error.

The study, which was recently published in JAMA Ophthalmology, also counters the notion that near work such as frequent reading or sitting too close to the television can bring on myopia.

Related: Examining pediatric eyes

“Near work has been thought to be a cause of myopia, or at least a risk factor, for more than 100 years. Some of the studies that led to that conclusion are hard to refute,” says Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD, FAAO, professor and dean of the College of Optometry at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study. “In this large dataset from an ethnically representative sample of children, we found no association.”

According to researchers, these results could help set a standard for eye exam recommendations for school-aged children and could be used to identify kids who would be good candidates for testing of experimental therapies designed to prevent myopia.

Study details

The study included 4,512 children between first and eighth grades. When they were between the ages of 6 and 11 years, children with normal vision were evaluated at this range of baseline ages and at least two additional annual visits. Over the course of the study, 414 kids became myopic between second and eighth grades.

Researchers assessed 13 potential risk factors for myopia to determine the strongest single predictor or set of predictors that could identify those children most likely to become myopic. These factors included physical measures of the eye and reports from parents about their children’s activities.

The research confirmed that eight of the 13 expected risk factors did indeed increase the likelihood that kids would become myopic. For example, one important risk factor was having two myopic parents.

Statistical analysis, however, showed that the refractive error at baseline was the best predictor in children at a young age that they would develop myopia by their teen years.

Related: How ACA can help improve pediatric eye care

Kids who will grow up with normal vision are actually slightly hyperopic when they are in first grade, according to the study authors. So the potential for future myopia can be detected at this young age via a refractive error measure that reveals little to no hyperopia.

For example, the study showed that a six-year-old child with less hyperopia is at greater risk for developing myopia sooner. The older the child, the more effective the refractive error is as a predictor of myopia onset by age 13.

Next: Researchers develop injectable night vision


Researchers develop injectable night vision

Tehachapi, CA-A research group called Science for the Masses has developed a way to give humans short-term night vision using Chlorin e6 (Ce6), which is found in some deep-sea fish and is used as a therapy agent in cancer treatment.

Ce6 has also been used to treat night blindness and improve dim light vision for those with visual disturbances.

Related: New technology could replace eye drops

Researchers combined the Ce6 with insulin, sterile saline solution (0.9% sodium chloride), and DMSO (Amresco) to create a thin, black solution.



For the application, the subject-Science for the Masses’ own biochemistry researcher, Gabriel Licina-had his eyes flushed with saline to remove any micro-debris or contaminants. Using a speculum, the Ce6 solution was added to the conjunctival sac via micropippette at three doses of 50μl into each eye. After each application, researchers applied pressure to the canthus to stop liquid from moving from the eye to the nasal region. Each dose was allowed to absorb between reloading the pippette, and the black color disappeared after only a few seconds.

Black scleral lenses were then applied to reduce the potential light entering the eye. Licina wore black sunglasses during all but testing to ensure increased low light conditions and reduce the potential for bright light exposure.

After two hours of adjustment, Licina and four controls were taken to a darkened area where three forms of subjective testing were performed. These consisted of symbol recognition by distance, symbol recognition on varying background colors at a static distance, and identifying moving subjects in a varied background at varied distances. Symbol recognition consisted of placing a collection of objects with numbers, letters, or shapes on them. Subjects were then asked to identify the markings, each viewing the objects from the same location at a distance of 10 meters.

Related: Laser procedure turns brown eyes blue

For subject recognition, individuals were moved in a small grove of trees. They chose their own locations independently. Distances ranged from 25 to 50 meters from observation point, and trees and brush were used to help them blend into their surroundings. Licina and controls were handed a laser pointer and asked to identify the location of the people in the grove.

Licina consistently recognized symbols that did not appear to be visible to the controls. He also identified the distant figures 100 percent of the time, with the controls showing a 33 percent identification rate.

Science for the Masses reports that Licina’s eyesight returned to normal by morning, and as of 20 days, there have been no noticeable effects.

Next: New UAB lab to study concussions



New UAB lab to study concussions

Birmingham, AL-A new research laboratory at the University of Alabama at Birmingham could lead to a better understanding of the effects of concussions.

The Vestibular and Oculomotor Research Laboratory (VORLab) is conducting research to identify markers of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), also known as concussion, in athletes. The lab is co-directed by Claudio Busettini, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Vision Sciences; and Jennifer Christy, PhD, PT, associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy. Its executive committee includes Katherine Weise, OD, MBA, FAAO, associate professor in the Department of Optometry; Mark Swanson, OD, MSPH, professor in the Department of Optometry; and James Johnston, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery.

Related: How vision can help diagnose concussions

This interdisciplinary team will use the laboratory to search for mTBI biomarkers in the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) system and oculomotor systems of athletes by determining the negative consequences of mTBI on these systems. Knowing these mTBI biomarkers will allow investigators to provide a quantitative measure of recovery for a concussed patient. Researchers say both diagnosis and monitoring of mTBI recovery are hindered by the absence of reliable biomarkers.

Next: Centuries-old stye treatment may hold cure to MRSA


Centuries-old stye treatment may hold cure to MRSA

Nottingham, England-A 10th century treatment for styes may hold a treatment for Methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to researchers at the University of Nottingham.

The potion, found in an Anglo-Saxon book called Bald’s Leechbook, consists of garlic, allium, wine from a 9th century vineyard, and oxgal-bile from a cows stomach.

Dermatology Times: Ancient medicine, modern MRSA cure?

While testing is in the early stages, researchers found this ancient eye salve was a powerful anti-staphylococccal antibiotic. 

“Our work is incredibly early-stage in this regard, but for me, a really interesting part of this story is that the Anglo-Saxons may have been experimenting with different recipes to test specific conditions,” Steve Diggle, PhD, associate professor at University of Nottingham, told our sister publication, Dermatology Times. “I think that is exciting.”

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