• By Kanaga Rajan and Keng Jin Lee
    Cornea/External Disease, Glaucoma, Oculoplastics/Orbit, Retina/Vitreous

    A weekly roundup of ophthalmic news from around the web.

    A specific type of low-carb diet may guard against glaucoma, according to a new study led by glaucoma expert Louis R. Pasquale, MD. The large-scale meta-analysis revealed that low-carbohydrate intake along with a diet of increased plant-based fat and protein was tied to a 20% lower risk of developing a primary open-angle glaucoma subtype with paracentral visual field loss. Interestingly, low-carb diets that were animal based did not appear to be protective. According to Dr. Pasquale, these findings indicate low-carb diets based on vegetables could perhaps prevent glaucoma among high-risk groups. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, Eye Nature

    Meanwhile, Vanderbilt University researchers have uncovered a new avenue for treating glaucoma and neurodegenerative diseases. Using PET imaging, they discovered that a healthy optic nerve can transfer metabolites via the optic chiasm to its counterpart under IOP-induced stress. Unfortunately, this leaves the healthy nerve more susceptible to other injury, explained study investigator David Calkins, PhD. “This implies that a way to slow neurodegeneration generally would be to boost metabolic resources in the brain.” He and his team are now exploring whether gene therapy could reprogram astrocytes to create and store more metabolites. Vanderbilt University Medical Center

    Surgeons have unveiled a “cutting-edge” technique for helping patients with facial paralysis regain the ability to close their eyes. The procedure, described in a March 2020 cover study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeryinvolves reinnervating the orbicularis oculi muscle. After surgery, patients could close their eyes faster and more completely and, as an added bonus, exhibited improved protection of the cornea. Patients with facial paralysis for less than 18 months were most likely to benefit from the new procedure. “Loss of time means loss of muscle, and at a certain point, this loss is irreversible,” said study leader Shai Rozen, MD. “Therefore, if we reach these patients early enough, we can reroute or rewire some of these nerves, and actually save the muscles around the eye and restore function.” UT Southwestern Medical Center

    An artificial cornea keratoprosthesis that biointegrates with the eye wall has been cleared for clinical trials in Israel. Unlike traditional transplantation and previous keratoprosthesis devices, the CorNeat KPro includes a patented nondegradable nanofabric skirt that is placed beneath the conjunctiva in a procedure that takes less than an hour to perform. “Given the implant's superior optical quality, the simplicity of its implantation, and its integration concept, the CorNeat KPro is expected to gradually erode the use of human tissue for some corneal indications once retention is proved,” notes ophthalmologist David Rootman, MD. The clinical trial will begin in Israel with 10 corneally blind patients and is expected to expand to 8 hospitals in Canada, the United States, France, China and the Netherlands. CorNeat Vision

    The blood protein vitronectin could represent a new drug target for dry AMD, according to researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. Although the protein has previously been found in drusen, the new PNAS study reveals that vitronectin clasps to calcium and hydroxyapatite, bringing together elements found in AMD deposits. Hoping to disrupt this pathway, the San Diego-based team is working to identify vitronectin-targeting compounds that may stop drusen formation. These findings could have further implications in conditions such as Alzheimer and heart disease, which are also driven by vitronectin-based plaque buildup. SBP Medical Discovery Institute

     

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    Don’t miss last week’s roundup: Cataract drops, liquid cornea, snapping shrimp