Summertime means more time spent outdoors, and studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and growths on the eye, including cancer.*
This June, UNC Eye joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AA0) in observing UV (ultraviolet light) Safety Awareness Month. Through its EyeSmart™ campaign, the AAO wants to remind Americans of the importance of protecting their eyes from the sun's harmful rays by wearing proper protection. We also want to remind you of the importance of protecting eyes from indoor UV light when using tanning beds.
The AAO offers these tips to protect your eyes from the sun:
- Don't focus on color or darkness of sunglass lenses:
- Select sunglasses that block UV rays. Don't be deceived by color or cost.
- The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price tag or how dark the sunglass lenses are.
- Check for 100 percent UV protection:
- Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays.
- Choose wrap-around styles:
- Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples, so the sun's rays can't enter from the side.
- Wear a hat:
- In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
- Don't rely on contact lenses:
- Even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection, remember your sunglasses.
- Don't be fooled by clouds:
- The sun's rays can pass through haze and thin clouds. Sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime.
- Protect your eyes during peak sun times:
- Sunglasses should be worn whenever outside, and it's especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
- Never look directly at the sun.
- Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, damage to the eye's retina from solar radiation.
- Don't forget the kids:
- Everyone is at risk, including children.
- Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses.
- Try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's UV rays are the strongest.
During UV Safety Month, remember to schedule your eye exam appointment with a UNC Eye MD by calling 919-966-5509.
* Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology
Dr. Amy Fowler, MIRA USA Founder Bob Baillie (& guide dog DJ), MIRA USA Lead Trainer Eric St. Pierre, Dr. Drew Hunter, Dr. Lyndon Lee
Bob Baillie, founder of MIRA USA, and several members of his staff visited Dr. Amy Fowler and UNC Eye staff at Chapel Hill North recently. MIRA USA is an Aberdeen, NC-based organization which is the only one in the United States whose mission is to provide guide dogs to children between the ages of 11 and 17. Mr. Baillie founded MIRA USA in 2008 after losing his sight as a result of complications from coronary bypass surgery.
After appearing on several local Triangle television news outlets to spread the word about the need for young people who are without sight to have the opportunity to have guide dogs and the work of MIRA USA, Mr. Baillie brought about 10 of his most recently completely trained guide dogs to UNC Eye at Chapel Hill North. He and his team, led by MIRA head trainer Eric St. Pierre, conducted demonstrations on what it's like to be without sight and rely on a guide dog to do everyday things that many people take for granted, such as walk down the sidewalk in a busy shopping center.
Dr. Amy Fowler, First-Year UNC Eye Resident Dr. Drew Hunter, and UNC Eye Fellow Dr. Lyndon Lee, along with several other staff members participated by walking blindfolded with a trained guide dog along the crowded walkway outside the UNC Eye office at Chapel Hill North, under the watchful supervision of the MIRA staff. All of the participants marveled at the sophisticated level of training the guide dogs received and what a unique experience it was to rely on them for help in navigating their way.
"Wow! What an experience to just trust this dog," Dr. Fowler said after taking a 100 yard walk down the sidewalk at Chapel Hill North, while blindfolded and led by Fiona, the guide dog that MIRA USA provided for the demonstration. An additional 8 children were introduced to their guide dogs for the first time in a ceremony in Pinehurst, NC on March 17th. For more information on MIRA USA, visit www.mirausa.org.
Comparison of Normal Vision (top) vs. the same scene as viewed by a person with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) - source: National Institutes of Health
As UNC Eye continues to follow the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Calendar of Monthly Observances, March is designated as Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness & Low Vision Awareness Month.
According to the AAO:
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration or breakdown of the eye's macula. The macula is a small area in the retina — the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly.
The following UNC Eye MDs specialize in treating AMD:
To schedule an appointment with any UNC Eye MD, please call 919-966-5509.
Vision is our most precious sense. Protect your sight by getting regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist.
Photograph of a macula (the highly sensitive center of the retina) with intermediate age-related macular degeneration.
Media contact: Tom Hughes, (919) 966-6047, email@example.com
Thursday, May 9, 2013
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – A large new study finds that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements has no effect on slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
However, for people with low levels of lutein or zeaxanthin in their diets, supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin may slow the progression of AMD, the study found.
Four researchers in the Department of Ophthalmology in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine contributed to the Age-related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) 2. Results from AREDS 2 were published online May 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Many patients ask whether they should be taking lutein and omega-3 fatty acids for their age-related macular degeneration (AMD),” said Odette Houghton, MD, associate professor and one of the UNC researchers. The others were Seema Garg, MD, PhD, Maurice B. Landers III, MD and Travis M. Meredith, MD, chair emeritus of the Department of Ophthalmology.
“The AREDS 2 results indicate that if you have low levels of lutein or zeaxanthin in your diet, or if you take the original AREDS vitamins without beta-carotene, then supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin may slow the progression of AMD. However, omega-3 fatty acids appear to have no beneficial or harmful effect on AMD,” Houghton said.
The AREDS2 study suggests that lutein and zeaxanthine are safer alternatives to beta-carotene in those people who have a history of smoking. There was a higher incidence of lung cancer in participants that had a history of smoking and who took AREDS supplements with beta-carotene.
“We have no control over some of the major risk factors for the advancement of AMD, such as age and family history,” Houghton said. “Regular dilated eye exams, avoidance of smoking and taking AREDS2 supplements when indicated are ways we may be able to reduce the risk of blindness from AMD.”
However, the AREDS supplements have only been shown to be effective in people who already have an intermediate stage of AMD. These supplements do not benefit people who have no AMD or mild AMD. A dilated eye exam by an eye care provider is the only way to detect AMD, Houghton said.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40. The necessary interval for follow-up exams can be based on the results of this screening. Everyone age 65 and over should have complete eye exams every one to two years.
UNC Eye Chair Donald L. Budenz, MD, MPH is inducted into the Alpha Chapter of Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society by Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
UNC Eye Department Chair Donald Budenz, MD, MPH, was one of only ten Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health alumni selected to the Alpha Chapter of Delta Omega, the most prestigious society in Public Health.
"Dr. Budenz has been a leader in the fields of glaucoma and public health and it is terrific that he has been chosen to receive this well deserved honor by his peers in the public health community" said Kuldev Singh, MD, MPH, Professor of Ophthalmolgy, Director of the Glaucoma Service at Stanford University and current President of the American Glaucoma Society.
Budenz, who graduated with his MPH from Johns Hopkins in 2004, was nominated and selected for his ongoing contributions to research in ophthalmology, including the medical testing of glaucoma, epidemiology of eye disease in West Africa, and clinical trial leadership.
Since the establishment at Johns Hopkins of the Alpha Chapter, the Society has expanded nationally to 59 local chapters with about 6,000 members, including the Theta Chapter at UNC Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Public Health.
Dr. Budenz and his research group worked for 2-1/2 years in Tema, Ghana, West Africa, where they performed eye examinations with ancillary testing and photography on over 5,600 randomly selected adults age 40 and over. They found the highest prevalence of glaucoma in the world (6.8%) and a startlingly high prevalence of blindness and visual disability in this group.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, but it is preventable if identified early enough. The study will be used to heighten awareness of the glaucoma problem in people of African descent and to direct resources to glaucoma screening and treatment in Africa.
In reference to the Tema Eye Survey, Jeffrey Liebmann, MD, the immediate past president of the American Glaucoma Society said, "Hopefully this study will cause other organizations to focus resources on this difficult problem."
Dr. Budenz recently returned to Chapel Hill from his most recent annual trip to Ghana, where he and his team continued their glaucoma research and performed eye examinations.
The UNC Department of Ophthalmology will celebrate Residents' Research Day on June 15th, 2013 in the UNC Lineberger Building - Joseph S. Pagano Conference Room (450 West Drive; Chapel Hill, NC 27514). The Annual Research Day presentations will feature 15-minute presentations of research performed by UNC Eye Ophthalmology residents and fellows, along with a Visiting Professor lecture and a Distinguished Alumnus lecture.
For additional information, contact Chris Postlethwait via email or via phone at 919.843.0264.
The Visiting Faculty will be:
- S. Dace McPherson, Jr. Memorial Lecturer: D. Rex Hamilton, MD, MS, FACS of Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California at Los Angeles, keynote address: "Advanced Corneal Tomography and Biomechanics"
- Distinguished Alumnus Lecturer: Evan H. Black, MD, FACS, UNC Eye Class of 1998
A UNC Eye researcher is finding ways to reduce vision loss from Diabetic Retinopathy by taking advantage of advances in telemedicine. The March 2013 edition of Retinal Physician magazine features an article by UNC Eye MD Seema Garg about her research on how the use of telemedicine can help treat Diabetic Retinopathy.
Per the article:
Telemedicine for Diabetic Retinopathy evaluation "establishes a logical partnership between primary care physicians and retina specialists by facilitating the identification of patients who are at high risk of vision loss from diabetes and who may not seek the recommended annual evaluation by an ophthalmologist... This could make a major public health contribution by ultimately reducing barriers to care and preventing vision-threating DR."
UNC Eye Residents left to right: Michael Compton, MD; Jonathan Zoghby, MD; Drew Hunter, MD; James Wrzosek, MD, MA; Kevin Gertsch, MD; Bradley King, MD; Adam Dao, MD; Robert van der Vaart, MD; David Fleischman, MD (photo by Sarah Moyer)
- S. Dace MacPherson, Jr. Memorial Lecturer: D. Rex Hamilton, MD, MS, FACS
- David E. Eifrig Distinguished Alumnus Lecturer: Evan H. Black, MD, FACS (UNC Eye Class of 1998)
UNC Eye Chairman Donald L. Budenz, MD, MPH said, “Thanks to the hard work of the residents and fellows and our two visiting professors, Drs. Hamilton and Black, I heard from faculty and alumni that this was the best UNC Residents' Day ever.”
Please enjoy the following photos from the Residents' & Fellows' Research Day Lectures and Dinner:
UNC Eye hosted the 2013 Spring Symposium on Saturday, April 13th at the Rizzo Conference Center in Chapel Hill. Visiting Professors and UNC Faculty presented the latest in the areas of:
Participants were able to claim 8.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Continuing Medical Education credit(s).
Featured speakers included Visiting Professors:
American Board of Ophthalmology
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
St. Louis University School of Medicine
St. Louis University Eye Institute
University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry
Flaum Eye Institute
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Yale University School of Medicine
Yale Eye Center
Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University Eye Center
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
Harvard Medical School
Symposium participants are invited to provide UNC Eye with feedback on the symposium by clicking here and completing the survey provided.
UNC Eye recently hosted the first-ever Tri-Residency Cataract Course, in which faculty and residents from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and Wake Forest University gathered together for lectures and case discussions about cataract treatments. Faculty from each institution gave lectures on cataract surgery and then residents had the opportuthnity to practice under supervision in the newly opened NC Eye Bank Surgical Skills Lab at UNC.
UNC Eye Department Chair Donald L. Budenz, MD, MPH said, "The ability to teach microsurgery to residents in a state-of-the-art laboratory is a huge advance in residency training. In addition to weekly training in cataract surgery, we will be holding courses in every subspecialty monthly to teach surgical techniques to treat glaucoma, corneal disease, retinal disease, oculoplastics, and strabismus surgery. This will be excellent preparation for our trainees before they begin operating on real patients."
Dr. Budenz continued, "In addition, we are in the process of organizing weekend training courses in the implantation of newly approved implants for the management of glaucoma. These courses will be open to practicing ophthalmologists who may not have received training in the implantation of devices that were not available when they did their residency training."
d by ophthalmology residents from not only UNC, but Duke and Wake Forest. As state-of-the art as our facility is, our successful course could not have happened without expert participation by faculty from Duke and Wake Forest, vendors, teaching by our very own third year residents, and support from our department."
Residents can learn and be observed through monitors at individual stations to provide one-on-one instruction. This training is invaluable for both the residents and their patients enabling residents to become proficient and confident with procedures prior to going to the operating room. We currently have access to the lab for both large group instruction as well as individual practice time. This allows for a variety of learning opportunities."
Dr. Gertsch continued, "We have weekly lab time to work on surgical procedures of our choice and monthly conferences with faculty members teaching specific procedures in the various subspecialties within ophthalmology. We have the chance to practice techniques required for corneal transplants, glaucoma procedures, eye muscle surgery, complicated anterior segment procedures and even practice retinal lasers. The facility has more than enough room and stations for our entire residency program to practice at the same time. We have enjoyed sharing the facility with our colleagues in Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery as we all benefit from the available technology and training resources.
Our recent tri-residency cataract course was a success for all who attended. Residents from UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest were able to be instructed by faculty from all three residency programs and then put the new principles learned into action in the wet lab. Using pig eyes and artificial eyes from the KITARO wet lab system, first year residents practiced the multiple steps of cataract surgery under the supervision of faculty experts and upper-level residents.
The cataract course for first-year residents reflects the strong tradition at UNC to begin learning surgical skills early in residency training to encourage a more in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the principles of ophthalmic surgery. We plan to hold similar courses in the future and hope expand to invite upper-level residents from all three NC programs to participate as well. We also hope that the new lab will be a center for education for other surgeons in the community."
Adam Dao, MD was somewhat surprised by his experience during the course, saying, "The UNC Cataract Course was the most educational, efficient, and dare I say it, fun(!) educational activity that I have had since I have been an ophthalmology resident. It was great to get formal instruction and feedback from faculty from a myriad of institutions. It was also nice to meet other residents from other programs and to share (and commiserate about) our experiences in learning cataract surgery. The course was as professional and high caliber as the new North Carolina Eye Bank surgical skills laboratory."
Third-year UNC Eye Resident, Jim Wrzosek found the course extremely valuable, stating, "Overall, being able to first see lectures from experienced faculty on basic phaco techniques followed by an immediate opportunity to practice those techniques under the supervision of the faculty and advanced residents showcased the one of the main strengths of both the training course and the new practice lab. The availability of top end phaco equipment from AMO and the new cataract simulation equipment from Kitaro also helped make the course valuable for the residents."
For more information on the North Carolina Eye Bank Surgical Skills Lab at UNC, please contact lab manager Matt Pillsbury at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNC Eye faculty member Seema Garg, MD, PhD recently spoke about the importance of the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program in a feature on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill main website.
Dr. Garg is a retina specialist who has been flying via AHEC’s Medical Air Operations to a retina clinic in New Bern for the past eight years. She is also pioneering a by working with the Mountain, Eastern, Southern Regional and Greensboro AHEC primary care residency programs.
Here are a few highlights of Dr. Garg's conversation:
Why do you do what you do through AHEC?
Garg: AHEC helps me reach the UNC Department of Ophthalmology’s retinal clinic in New Bern, N.C., via AHEC’s Medical Air Operations. In addition, the infrastructure of the AHEC sites across the state facilitates our medical services to patients we wouldn’t normally be able to help, for instance, through telemedicine.
How have you influenced people through AHEC and what influence do you hope to have in the future?
Garg: Diabetes-related retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in North Carolina, and this promising new collaboration we’re working on with AHEC will greatly benefit patients who may have poor access to sub-specialty eye care geographically and financially.
The North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program, based at Carolina, sends out hundreds of faculty members to towns across the state to teach, to care for patients and to look for ways to improve how each center serves the local community. Nine regional centers serve all 100 counties in North Carolina.
To read our latest Newsletter, click here. Topics include:
- Chairman's Corner - Donald Budenz, MD, MPH
- 25 Year Faculty Member
- Meet Our First Resident
- 2012 Spring Symposium
- Intermediate Historical Perspective - David Chesnutt, MD
- New Optical Shop Manager
- Dutton Appointed Spinoza Chair
- 2013 CME Calendar
- Resident & Fellow Update
Since 1990, the donations and commitment of North Carolina Lions and Lions Clubs International have helped UNC Eye improve vision to the visually impaired children, youth, and adults of North Carolina and others whom we serve.
Press "play" on the video below to learn more:
Thanks to our relationship with this generous service organization, Michelle Cabrera, MD and J. Niklas Ulrich, MD are training two visiting ophthalmologists from China to treat Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a disease that renders many children in their homeland blind, with no qualified individuals or means to treat the condition.
UNC Eye is also providing a more comfortable patient experience by using the Electroretinogram (ERG) machine, donated by NC Lions, to evaluate the function of the retina.
Jennifer Williamson (UNC School of Medicine Class of 2013), a medical student and future resident (starting in July 2014) working on a rotation with UNC Eye MD Dr. Sai Chavala, recently had an article published in the The Lancet, one of the most prestigious journals in all of medicine. Click here to read the article.
Said Sai Chavala and Jennifer Williamson, "We are delighted that The Lancet has chosen to publish these clinical images. Sturge-Weber syndrome is a disorder that requires multidisciplinary care, and awareness of its ocular complications, including retinal detachments, by multiple specialties is necessary to prevent vision loss. We hope that these images will help readers make the association between the “port wine” stain of Sturge-Weber syndrome and its ocular manifestations in order to re-emphasize the importance of ocular exams in these patients."