• By Kanaga Rajan and Keng Jin Lee
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Cornea/External Disease, Glaucoma, Neuro-Ophthalmology/Orbit, Retina/Vitreous

    A weekly roundup of ophthalmic news from around the web.

    Researchers at Columbia University have gleaned new insights about COVID-19 and its surprising link to AMD. In their new Nature Medicine study, they analyzed 11,000 patients with suspected COVID; 25% of those with AMD died and 20% required intubation. The reason? An unusually robust activation of their body’s complement and coagulation systems, according to co-lead investigator Sagi Shapira, PhD, MPH. “The new coronavirus—by mimicking complement or coagulation proteins—might drive both systems into a hyperactive state.” She notes that this may contribute to the high COVID-19 mortality among patients with AMD, obesity and diabetes—conditions that already have overactive complement. With one COVID clinical trial already testing complement inhibitors, the team hope these findings will inspire further studies. Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Nature Medicine

    For the first time, scientists have discovered stem cells in the optic nerve, paving the way for a new theory about glaucoma. They hypothesize that loss of these neural progenitor cells—believed to support optic nerve fibers since birth—may cause fiber deterioration and optic nerve damage, ultimately leading to glaucoma. “The presence of neural stem/progenitor cells opens the door to new treatments to repair damage to the optic nerve, which is very exciting news,” said study author Steven Bernstein, MD, PhD. Up next, he and his colleagues hope to identify growth factors secreted by these cells, which could potentially be useful in slowing progression of glaucoma and other age-related vision disorders. University of Maryland School of Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    The silvery eyes of baby jawfish (image above) are not just pretty to look at but are, in fact, an interesting form of protection. Although fertilized jawfish eggs are nearly 100% transparent, they have a dark ocular pigment that makes them an easy target for predators. The argenta, a protective silvery coating made of guanine, covers the pigmented aspect and provides camouflage by reflecting light. As the fish mature, the argenta is covered by opaque scleral and becomes the outer layer of the choroid. Ophthalmology

    Bausch Health unveiled plans to divest its faster-growing eye-care business, Bausch + Lomb, from its core pharmaceutical operations. The eye-care unit brought in $3.7 billion in revenue last year, while the rest of the company raked in approximately $4.9 billion. Bausch has yet to decide on the structure or a closing date, but CEO Joseph Papa said he expects the spinoff to take place within the next 18 months. Wall Street Journal

    A new case study has unveiled an unusual case of keratoconus regression after gastric sleeve surgery. The patient had a history of penetrating keratoplasty in the left eye, while his right eye had active progression of keratoconus for several years. After sleeve gastrectomy, the right eye showed significant corneal flattening over a period of 2 years that was especially pronounced at the apex of the cone. Encouragingly, his vision also improved along with management of his obesity and type 2 diabetes. Cornea