Crazy Friday Science: New “Dua’s Layer” Discovered in Human Eyes, Ophthalmology Changed Forever

From May 28, 2013 onward, the study of the human eye will forever be changed.  A doctor named Harminder S. Dua, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Nottingham has discovered a new layer of cells that lies just above Descemet’s Layer of the cornea and the corneal stroma.  Like so:

duas-layer

“Now hold on there cowboy, what’s the cornea?!”

The cornea is the covering for the iris, pupil, and the anterior chamber  – basically the spot in front of the eye’s lens.  It’s one of the body’s most nerve-filled tissues, and it’s filled with fluid for light transmission.  Check this out, it’s an excellent visual description of the cornea, anterior and vitreous chambers — for reference, Dua’s Layer is right between the rear edge of the cornea (closest to the iris) and the middle of the cornea:

Three_Main_Layers_of_the_Eye

 

What Dr. Dua has discovered is a layer within the cornea that seems to have something to do with failures in the cornea where misshaping takes place.  These kinds of diseases are thought to be caused by water becoming waterlogged within the cornea itself, perhaps caused by a tear in this new Dua’s Layer.  They give the person afflicted a cone-shaped cornea that can be corrected with glasses, contacts, or in extreme cases, corneal surgery.  I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, so I’m guessing you haven’t either:

Keratoconus_eye

keratoconus-eye

from http://thesclerallenscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/IMG_8964.jpg

Dua’s Layer is the new tissue discovery that is thought to cause things like this crazy degenerative keratoconus, which looks very annoying and painful to me.  Keratoconus causes pretty awful headaches and eye strain for people afflicted, which nobody wants.  But, this discovery is being heralded as a potential game changer for corneal diseases and degenerative conditions.  From Sci News:

“This is a major discovery that will mean that ophthalmology textbooks will literally need to be re-written. Having identified this new and distinct layer deep in the tissue of the cornea, we can now exploit its presence to make operations much safer and simpler for patients,” said Dr Harminder Dua, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Nottingham and lead author of a paper published in the journal Ophthalmology.

“From a clinical perspective, there are many diseases that affect the back of the cornea which clinicians across the world are already beginning to relate to the presence, absence or tear in this layer.”

The human cornea is the clear protective lens on the front of the eye through which light enters the eye. Scientists previously believed the cornea to be comprised of five layers, from front to back, the corneal epithelium, Bowman’s layer, the corneal stroma, Descemet’s membrane and the corneal endothelium.

…and from Science Daily:

The scientists proved the existence of the layer by simulating human corneal transplants and grafts on eyes donated for research purposes to eye banks located in Bristol and Manchester.

During this surgery, tiny bubbles of air were injected into the cornea to gently separate the different layers. The scientists then subjected the separated layers to electron microscopy, allowing them to study them at many thousand times their actual size.

Understanding the properties and location of the new Dua’s layer could help surgeons to better identify where in the cornea these bubbles are occurring and take appropriate measures during the operation. If they are able to inject a bubble next to the Dua’s layer, its strength means that it is less prone to tearing, meaning a better outcome for the patient.

The discovery will have an impact on advancing understanding of a number of diseases of the cornea, including acute hydrops, Descematocele and pre-Descemet’s dystrophies.

The scientists now believe that corneal hydrops, a bulging of the cornea caused by fluid build up that occurs in patients with keratoconus (conical deformity of the cornea), is caused by a tear in the Dua layer, through which water from inside the eye rushes in and causes waterlogging.

This is the first time I am ever researching Keratoconus — I have a good friend who has Retinitis Pigmentosa, another degenerative disease of the eye (in that case the retina), but the conical cornea is quite an odd phenomena.  Have you ever had or know anyone who has had this disease?  I found some information at WebMD on Keratoconus on diagnosis and treatment:

Keratoconus changes vision in two ways:

  • As the cornea changes from a ball shape to a cone shape, the smooth surface becomes slightly wavy. This is called irregular astigmatism.
  • As the front of the cornea expands, vision becomes more nearsighted. That is, only nearby objects can be seen clearly. Anything too far away will look like a blur.

An eye doctor may notice symptoms during an eye exam. You may also mention symptoms that could be caused by keratoconus. These include:

  • Sudden change of vision in just one eye
  • Double vision when looking with just one eye
  • Objects both near and far looking distorted
  • Bright lights looking like they have halos around them
  • Lights streaking
  • Seeing triple ghost images

To be sure you have keratoconus, your doctor needs to measure the curvature of the. cornea. There are several different ways this can be done.

One instrument, called a keratometer, shines a pattern of light onto the cornea. The shape of the reflection tells the doctor how the eye is curved. There are also computerized instruments that make three-dimensional “maps” of the cornea.

How Is Keratoconus Treated?
Treatment usually starts with new eyeglasses. If eyeglasses don’t provide adequate vision, then contact lenses may be recommended.  With mild cases, new eyeglasses can usually make vision clear again. Eventually, though, it will probably be necessary to use contact lenses or seek other treatments to strengthen the cornea and improve vision.

A last resort is a cornea transplant.  This involves removing the center of the cornea and replacing it with a donor cornea that is stitched into place.

Congratulations to Dr. Harminder Dua and his team at the University of Nottingham for this amazing discovery!
Keep up the excellent game-changing work, good sir!

dr-harminder-dua

Check out the abstract at the journal Ophthalmology.

keratoconus-normal

from http://www.centralohioeyecare.com/user-files/PageImage206991.jpg

Thanks to Wikipedia on Keratoconus, Dua’s Layer, Traffic Shaper!

Like the Prometheus “Pups,” Now Doctors Can Map Your Esophagus

Remember that scene in Prometheus where the scientist guy takes those silver balls from his backpack and started “mapping” the inside of the crazy alien mound thing?

Prometheus pupsWell, watch this:

This is the work of the good folks at Massachusetts General Hospital — you’re looking at a pill-sized, tethered endoscope that the docs can use to create a scan of the inside of your esophagus!  That is some pretty amazing stuff!  I think this is also a great time to say that Mass General also won the #1 Hospital in the US award from US News and World Report!  This is important to me, especially given the source of the little pill-sized endoscope.  This didn’t come from a company that does this for a living, this came from a hospital.  To me, this is huge news!  This is a hospital solving a problem that needed solving.

From the article at Nature magazine, posted in January:

Now, researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston have invented a tethered, pill-sized endoscope that that allows doctors to construct an image of a person’s esophagus in microscopic detail within a few minutes—and all without anesthesia, intense training or causing pain. Their work was published today in Nature Medicine.

“A lot of people have reflux but don’t feel the pain of heartburn,” says MGH pathologist Gary Tearney, who led the study. These patients are at high risk for developing cancer, because they usually have no reason to get their esophagus inspected. “[Our device] really opens up screening to many more people,” Tearney says.

The new experimental endomicroscope device looks like a penny-sized, clear plastic pill, attached to a long piano wire that runs to a computer console. It can be swallowed with a cup of water. Because it is tethered, the pill can then be sent up and down the length of the esophagus, where it scans and generates an image.

The device works via optical frequency domain imaging (OFDI), a technique similar to ultrasound but using infrared light. The researchers first generate a beam of light, and then split it into two with mirrors. One beam is sent into a detector where it serves as a reference; the other is sent through the tether, into the pill, where it is directed into the tissue.

In the esophagus, the light beam is focused on an area roughly the diameter of a human hair and then spun around axially 20 times per second. Like in ultrasounds, the properties of the light after it reflects off tissue can be measured. When it is sent back to a detector and compared with the reference beam, the difference between the two can be used to reconstruct a thin cross section of the esophagus in microscopic detail. By stacking these cross-sections together, researchers can create a three-dimensional image of the esophagus in a method similar to CT scan reconstructions.

pill-sized-endoscope

Have you ever had an endoscopic procedure?  Like the ones where they stick the camera down your throat or even maybe a colonoscopy, where they go in the back way?  Let me tell you — I’ve had both, and they both f****ng suck sh** through a tube, and hard.  Consider that when you think of this pill-sized endoscope.  This thing can be swallowed by the patient with little or no anasthesia, long procedures, or even pain from the patient.  This is absolutely awesome.  Finally, something that allows doctors to grab a 3D scan of your esophagus without being in pain while it’s happening.

Check out some awesome images of this pill!  This first image, the sort-of schematic, is actually huge, just click on it:

nm.3052-F1

An image of the device’s scan:nm.3052-F2

The pill itself:Pill_endoscope_web

An image of the pill being held by a technician, showing the size and scale of the device:Pill_endoscope2_web

If you want to see the entire abstract, which is awesome, go here and check it out!

Thanks, Prometheus, BioOpticsWorld, and Nature!

Nikon’s 2012 Small World Contest – FIRST PLACE WINNERS!

This is so freaking cool!  Nikon, everyone’s favorite camera company (that is unless you’re a Canon), puts on this competition every year for Photomicrography, or images viewed through a microscope.  Immediately that should tinge up some of those “holy schmoly I’m gonna see something neat!” hairs on your neck; mine are located right next to the “Terrible Smell from My Past” hairs, so I always get a little bit of extra freakout.  From Nikon’s site about the contest:

Small World is regarded as the leading forum for showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope. The Photomicrography Competition is open to anyone with an interest in microscopy and photography (or videography). The video competition, entitled Small World, encompasses any movie or digital time-lapse photography taken through the microscope.

There are two contests – Small World for Photomicrography and Small World in Motion for Micrography for video subjects.

The Winner of the Small World for Photomicrography Contest:

Nikon Microfotografia 2012

Dr. Jennifer L. Peters & Dr. Michael R. Taylor
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Subject Matter:  The blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo

Dr. Jennifer Peters’ and Dr. Michael Taylor’s winning image of the blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo perfectly demonstrates the intersection of art and science that drives the Nikon Small World Competition.

The blood-brain barrier plays a critical role in neurological function and disease. Drs. Peters and Taylor, developed a transgenic zebrafish to visualize the development of this structure in a live specimen. By doing so, this model proves that not only can we image the blood-brain barrier, but we can also genetically and chemically dissect the signaling pathways that modulate the blood-brain barrier function and development.

To achieve this image, Peters and Taylor used a maximum intensity projection of a series of images acquired in the z plane. The images were first pseudo-colored with a rainbow palette based on depth so that the coloring scheme would be both visually appealing and provide spatial information. In doing so, Peters and Taylor captured an image that Peters says“not only captures the beauty of nature, but is also topical and biomedically relevant.”

Both Peters and Taylor have more than ten years of imaging experience. Peters is an imaging scientist in the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Light Microscopy Core Facility and Taylor is an Assistant Member in the Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics at St. Jude Children’s Research.

But not to be outdone, overdone, or underdone like not-quite-finished-baking chocolate chip cookies, which are still delicious – the winner of the Small World in Motion for Photomicrography 2012:

Dr. Olena Kamenyeva
National Institute of Health (NIH)
NIAID – Laboratory of Immunoregulation
Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Subject Matter: Recruitment of neutrophils to the site of laser damage in mouse inguinal lymph node

This video shows the immune response in the lymph node of a mouse, when activated by a laser. Specifically, it shows an efficient innate immune reaction in the lymph node, which typically has been studied for the development of adaptive immune response.

Now go out there and rule the world, ‘Lil Campers!

Second Sight Medical Products Delivers a Kick to the Giftbag for Retinitis Pigmentosa

This is very exciting news for the realm of artificial vision.  I have someone I look up to that suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa, and it sucks to see this degenerative disease affect this man’s sight.

But:  advances are being made in “bionic” tech all the time that tries to bridge the gap between natural vision and artificially enhanced vision – and since we don’t understand that much about how the brain translates sight into information for the brain, every time there is a breakthrough in technology in this arena, it’s a big deal!

First, what is Retinitis Pigmentosa?  It sounds like something that is not very good, and in fact it is not.  From Wikipedia and the NIH:

Fundus of patient with retinitis pigmentosa, mid stage (Bone spicule-shaped pigment deposits are present in the mid periphery along with retinal atrophy, while the macula is preserved although with a peripheral ring of depigmentation. Retinal vessels are attenuated.) Hamel Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2006

Fundus of patient with retinitis pigmentosa, mid stage (Bone spicule-shaped pigment deposits are present in the mid periphery along with retinal atrophy, while the macula is preserved although with a peripheral ring of depigmentation. Retinal vessels are attenuated.) Hamel Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2006

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited, degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and often blindness.[1] Sufferers will experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Night blindness or nyctalopia;
  • Tunnel vision (no peripheral vision);
  • Peripheral vision (no central vision);
  • Latticework vision;
  • Aversion to glare;
  • Slow adjustment from dark to light environments and vice versa;
  • Blurring of vision;
  • Poor color separation; and
  • Extreme tiredness.

The progress of RP is not consistent. Some people will exhibit symptoms from infancy, others may not notice symptoms until later in life.[2] Generally, the later the onset, the more rapid is the deterioration in sight. Also notice that people who do not have RP have 90 degree peripheral vision, while some people that have RP have less than 90 degree.

A form of retinal dystrophy, RP is caused by abnormalities of the photoreceptors (rods and cones) or the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the retina leading to progressive sight loss. Affected individuals may experience defective light to dark, dark to light adaptation or nyctalopia (night blindness), as the result of the degeneration of the peripheral visual field (known as tunnel vision). Sometimes, central vision is lost first causing the person to look sidelong at objects.

The effect of RP is best illustrated by comparison to a television or computer screen. The pixels of light that form the image on the screen equate to the millions of light receptors on the retina of the eye. The fewer pixels on a screen, the less distinct will be the images it will display. Fewer than 10 percent of the light receptors in the eye receive the colored, high intensity light seen in bright light or daylight conditions. These receptors are located in the center of the circular retina. The remaining 90 percent of light receptors receive gray-scale, low intensity light used for low light and night vision and are located around the periphery of the retina. RP destroys light receptors from the outside inward, from the center outward, or in sporadic patches with a corresponding reduction in the efficiency of the eye to detect light. This degeneration is progressive and has no known cure as of June 2012.

That sucks so much.  However, now you have to meet Second Sight Medical Products’ Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System, which just got FDA approval for patent this week:

All I can say about this is holy crap.

argus-2-system-overview

From the MedGadget article on the Argus II system:

The bionic eye works by replacing the disease-damaged photoreceptors of the eye with tiny chips that translate light into electrical signals, which in turn stimulate the optic nerve. The normal retina is really not a camera, and the optic nerve does not send pixels, per say, to the brain, but rather a highly processed and optimally encoded representation of the visual scene. The fact that bionic eyes like the Argus II can work at all — and indeed so well — is due more to the brain’s ability to make sense out of whatever relevant signals it receives, than to current understanding of how the retina actually works. As researchers advance their understanding of  the retina, bionic eye technology will continue to advance hand-in-hand to provide new vision to the blind at ever higher resolution.

This is amazing technology.  I hope that the Argus II system can restore vision in those who have lost it due to terrible degenerative diseases like RP.

To my buddy:  hang in there, big man.  I’m always on the lookout.

Side note:  under the Did You Know? section of the Argus II System website:

The Latin word “Argus” refers to a giant in Greek mythology with 100 eyes, Argus Panoptes, who was considered all-seeing. Argus was the servant of Hera, goddess of women and marriage as well as the wife of Zeus. Zeus seduced the nymph Io who was also the priestess of Hera.  In order to hide her from Zeus, Hera transformed her into a white heifer and asked Argus to watch over Io and protect her from Zeus.

Too cool, Second Sight.

Laser Tattoo Removal?! It’s Like A SKIN ERASER!

First — no, I’m never getting my tattoos removed, and yes, I plan on getting both sleeves!  A friend sent me a link, and boom — there was a dude getting his tattoos removed.  Take a moment and check this out, it is actually quite amazing:

Whoa.

This process of laser tattoo removal is called laser ablation, or even better — selective photothermolysis.  That’s certainly a five dollar word, isn’t it?  If you break it down it’s pretty simple:  photo means light, thermo means heat, and lysis means destruction.  So destruction using light and heat.  Can you dig it?  To put this into perspective of, say, the entertainment industry, laser ablation is used to make glass and/or metal gobos, and can be done with ridiculous precision.  Ridiculous.  Laser Ablation is something that typically uses a pulsed laser because of its high power; when something is laser ablated, the power and temperature is usually at such a magnitude that the material being removed is often plasma-fied or just vaporized altogether.

Wanna get really nerdy with me?  I also checked out a paper called Optimizing Outcomes of Laser Tattoo Removal, talking about different wavelengths and laser types.  Yes, it’s interesting!

Hey, did I mention that video above has a guy basically getting his tattoos erased?!

Thanks, LikeCool

How to Get Anything Through TSA’s Nude Body Scanners?

Oh my.

I’ve been pretty critical of the TSA and the Millimeter Wave technology in the past, but I’m nothing like this guy – this man took it upon himself to prove that Millimeter Wave tech doesn’t work.  Check this out:

This video is here to demonstrate that the TSA’s insistence that the nude body scanner program is effective and necessary is nothing but a fraud, just like their claims that the program is safe (radiation what?) and non-invasive (nude pictures who?). This video is not intended to teach anyone how to commit criminal acts, nor is intended to help “the terrorists” — if I could figure this out, I’m sure they’ve long figured it out, and by exposing it to the public, we now have an opportunity to correct it. The scanners are now effectively worthless, as anyone can beat them with virtually no effort. The TSA has been provided this video in advance of it being made public to give them an opportunity to turn off the scanners and revert to the metal detectors. I personally believe they now have no choice but to turn them off.

Please share this video with your family, friends, and most importantly, elected officials in federal government. Make sure they understand that your vote is contingent on them fixing the abuse that 200,000 passengers face from the TSA on a daily basis.

Crazy.  How do you feel now?

(Also, I wonder how long before I get the dreaded ‘SSSS‘ on my boarding passes…)

Bionic Contact Lenses?

Ok, now if I can just figure out how to put my finger that close to my eyeball, I’m golden!  Yeah.  I have never had a contact lens in my eye.

Check this out – a bionic contact lens!  Researchers at the technology company Innovega have developed (and are still developing) some pretty crazy stuff – contact lenses that allow you to be fed information and that improve your distance vision, both macro and micro.  Now we’re talking turkey here.  Check out this first video:

Then check out this one – this is from Innovega itself:

Now this could be some serious sh*t here, people. Let’s see where this develops.  From the press release at Innovega:

SEATTLE, WA., January 8, 2012 – Innovega Inc., a developer of wearable displays that are free from usual bulky optics, announced today that it has demonstrated mega-pixel eyewear in a compact and stylish form-factor. Management now intends to accelerate delivery of designs, components and licenses to selected strategic partners. Innovega will be exhibiting at the 2012 International CES event from Booth # 73403 in the Ballroom at The Venetian Hotel.

“Conventional mobile device screens are too small to read and certainly too small to enjoy. Over the past months we have demonstrated contact lens enabled eyewear for mobile devices including smartphones, portable game devices and media players that deliver panoramic, high-resolution experiences for entertainment and planned Augmented Reality (AR)* applications”, said Steve Willey, Innovega CEO. “During this same period, we collaborated with partners to finalize initial specifications of launch platforms which include a screen size that is equivalent to a 240 inch television (viewed at a usual distance of 10 feet)”.

Willey added, “Unless the display industry can deliver transparent, high-performance and compact eyewear, developers of AR and other compelling media applications will simply fail to create the excitement that consumers crave and the functionality that professional users absolutely need”.

Innovega’s new and natural interface comprises familiar, light-weight eyewear working with advanced contact lenses. One hundred million global consumers, including more than 20% of America’s 18 to 34 year-old, already wear contact lenses. With low switching costs, Innovega expects many will join other early adopter groups who wish to access rich media while remaining fully involved in their real-world activities. Management believes that consumers will be thrilled to wear and benefit from its new lens-based eyewear given the unique combination of benefits that this new interface offers.

Innovega designers and partners considered the future of personal media, social networking, and mobile computing, and converged upon an aggressive design-point that meets today’s needs as well as demands of high-performance AR which require a see-through and panoramic display interface. Innovega refers to its innovative product as a ‘lifestyle interface‘, since consumers view their digital content in a way that is similar to how they see the world around them. By providing a transparent, fashionable, and comfortable interface that is consistent with today’s active lifestyles, the architecture also eliminates the social barrier that traditional opaque and bulky video eyewear seems to create.

The Innovega iOptikTM architecture meets the demanding performance requirements of AR by eliminating the focusing optics that tend to limit the field of view of displayed media. Innovega replaces them with micro- and nano-fabricated optical elements that are integrated into otherwise conventional contact lenses. The recent demonstration of stylish, megapixel eyewear has proven the power of this proprietary architecture.

Innovega will provide the new system to media and consumer electronics OEMs who wish to design natural display interfaces that consumers want and need. Innovega believes that its new personal display interface will become an essential social media and entertainment accessory.

* Augmented Reality – Definition from “Wikipedia”: Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data … With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real-world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulatable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

 Way, way cool.  Stay tuned.
Thanks to Arya-Dragonqueen for the cool bionic eye image!

Preliminary Report Shows Stem Cells Reversed Macular Degeneration

This is crazy.  I just read a report in the journal The Lancet about a trial that’s taking place with embryonic stem cells and human subjects with macular degeneration.  The preliminary report actually shows that the patients have experienced some restoration of their vision.  Two patients are being utilized in this study – one with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy and one with dry age-related macular degeneration.  From the study:

Although there is little agreement between investigators on visual endpoints in patients with low vision, it is encouraging that during the observation period neither patient lost vision. Best corrected visual acuity improved from hand motions to 20/800 (and improved from 0 to 5 letters on the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study [ETDRS] visual acuity chart) in the study eye of the patient with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, and vision also seemed to improve in the patient with dry age-related macular degeneration (from 21 ETDRS letters to 28).

Hey, did you hear?  Lemme just make sure that everybody heard:  STEM CELLS ARE BEING USED TO HELP RESTORE VISION AND ARE SHOWING SIGNS OF SUCCESS.  AWE-SOME!

OK – first, what is macular degeneration?  We’re basically talking about vision loss here that results from some sort of degeneration of the maculaThese two macular degeneration subjects have interesting vision deficiencies.  Presentation on Stargardt’s Dystrophy, from Wikipedia:

Those with Stargardt disease are sensitive to glare; overcast days offer some relief. Vision is most noticeably impaired when the macula (center of retina and focus of vision) is damaged, leaving peripheral vision more intact. Symptoms usually appear before age 20. Symptoms include wavy vision, blind spots, blurriness, impaired color vision, and difficulty adapting to dim lighting.  Some patients are able to drive. Many patients use magnifiers to help them see, and wear sunglasses to slow the development.

The other one, in this case, is a general dry age-related macular degeneration.  There are two kinds of this vision-killing degeneration, a wet kind and a dry kind:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition which usually affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina. It occurs in “dry” and “wet” forms. It is a major cause of blindness and visual impairment in older adults (>50 years). Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life.

Starting from the inside of the eye and going towards the back, the three main layers at the back of the eye are the retina, which contains the nerves; the choroid, which contains the blood supply; and the sclera, which is the white of the eye.

The macula is the central area of the retina, which provides the most detailed central vision.

In the dry (nonexudative) form, cellular debris called drusen accumulate between the retina and the choroid, and the retina can become detached. In the wet (exudative) form, which is more severe, blood vessels grow up from the choroid behind the retina, and the retina can also become detached. It can be treated with laser coagulation, and with medication that stops and sometimes reverses the growth of blood vessels.[1][2]

Although some macular dystrophies affecting younger individuals are sometimes referred to as macular degeneration, the term generally refers to age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD).

Age-related macular degeneration begins with characteristic yellow deposits (drusen) in the macula, between the retinal pigment epithelium and the underlying choroid. Most people with these early changes (referred to as age-related maculopathy) have good vision. People with drusen can go on to develop advanced AMD. The risk is considerably higher when the drusen are large and numerous and associated with disturbance in the pigmented cell layer under the macula. Recent research suggests that large and soft drusen are related to elevated cholesterol deposits and may respond to cholesterol-lowering agents.

Ok, now I’mma let you finish, Taylor Swift, but STEM CELLS ARE BEING USED TO HELP RESTORE VISION AND ARE SHOWING SIGNS OF SUCCESS.

Check out the original article at The Lancet.  Very, very cool news.

Thanks, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, and WebVision!

Tanya Vlach Wants to Grow A Bionic Eye

Tanya Vlach is looking for someone to help her invent a “bionic” eye that has a camera inside.  Watch this:

Tanya is looking for donors and engineers to help her create an experimental project featuring her prosthetic eye and a camera.  It sucks that she had to experience such tragedy in order to have this opportunity, but I have to say that I am inspired and excited to see how her project comes out.  If you’re interested in helping Tanya make her project come to life, please help her out over at Kickstarter.

Details from her Kickstarter page:

Before we get into the nitty gritty details of the eye camera, let’s back up a few years. In 2005, I was in a near death car accident. Centimeters away from death, I managed to pull through. Although grateful to be alive, I lost my left eye in the tumble and suffered frontal lobe minor brain injury and severe depression.

I entered the vast world of the Internet and chronicled my experiences on my blog, One-Eyed. I posted about new developments in technology that would help me regain sight. Soon I began envisioning a sci-fi plot twist to my predicament. I pitched my idea to Wired Founder Kevin Kelly. Intrigued, he posted my call out to engineers to help build an implant of a miniature camera inside my prosthetic eye. Immediately the idea went viral and I received hundreds of international engineering proposals, support from my  one-eyed community, and thousands of media inquiries. I became the media haven for transhumanism and the subject of controversy around engineering the body. Since then, I’ve been plotting new strategies to tell my story, both my personal one and the one of my sci-fi alter ego, into a transmedia platform, which will include: a graphic novel, an experimental documentary, a web series, a game, and a live performance. Grow a new eye – is about engineering a new bionic camera eye. 

This is an awesome story.  You need to go check out Tonya’s blog page, Eye, Tanya.  Let me know if you end up supporting the project in any way, leave a comment of support here for Tanya.  I really hope that this technology advances in a direction that helps for everyone.