• By Anni Delfaro
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Cornea/External Disease, Pediatric Ophth/Strabismus, Retina/Vitreous

    A weekly roundup of ophthalmic news from around the web.

    Chimps and bonobos may have what it takes to follow each other’s gazes, according to this PNAS study. This is surprising, because their pigmented sclera seemingly blends with their colored iris, hiding the direction of their gaze. The new findings suggest otherwise, revealing a similar degree of contrast between sclera and iris in humans, bonobos and chimps. Eye gaze is likely a useful social cue across the species, the authors note. But whether apes use it to communicate snarky thoughts remains unclear. PNAS

    Cheap, portable endothelial screening could soon be a thing if a collaboration between Harvard ophthalmologists and the student-run Global Alliance for Medical Innovation pans out. The group is prototyping a 3D-printed adapter that connects a smart phone to a slit lamp and captures a high-quality image of the corneal endothelium without the need for specialized training. Also underway: a smartphone app that processes the captured image and machine-learning algorithms that segment the endothelial cells, count their density and characterize their shapes. A clinical is planned for this fall. Harvard University

    A teenager’s diet of fries, potato chips, white bread and processed pork led to permanent blindness, researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The findings are a reminder of how a “junk food” diet low in nutritional vitamins and minerals can drive nutritional optic neuropathy. In this case, the 17-year-old patient had a healthy weight and height, but developed vitamin B12 deficiency, low copper and selenium levels, a high zinc level and stark reductions in vitamin D level and bone mineral density. By the time doctors connected his visual decline to his nutritional status, the effects were permanent. University of Bristol 

    A Japanese woman is the first to receive a cornea made from reprogrammed stem cells. Ophthalmologist Kohji Nishida, MD, from Osaka University said in a press conference that the patient has corneal epithelial stem cell deficiency, so his team created sheets of corneal cells from stem cells derived from an adult donor. Nishida noted that the woman’s cornea remained clear and her vision had improved since the transplant took place last month. According to Nature, the Japanese health ministry gave Nishida permission to try the procedure on 4 people. He is planning the next operation for later this year and hopes to have the procedure in the clinic in 5 years. Nature