Lighthouse At-A-Glance

Welcome to the August 2010 edition of At-A-Glance, Lighthouse International’s low vision newsletter. August is cataract awareness month. Enjoy our feature story on the link between cataracts and antidepressant drugs.

Featured Story

Link between Antidepressants and Cataracts Found

A new study by the Vancouver Coastal Health Institute, a Canadian health authority, has identified a link between some antidepressant drugs and cataracts. Widely prescribed antidepressants, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), were found to increase the risk of developing cataracts among seniors by approximately 15 percent.

The study, which was published in the June issue of Ophthalmology, was based on a database of more than 200,000 Quebec, Canada residents over the age of 65. Three specific SSRI drugs were found to increase the risk of cataracts: fluvoxamine (Luvox), venlafaxine (Effexor), and paroxetine (Paxil). The research only reveals an association between the use of SSRIs and the development of cataracts and does not prove causation.

"This is the first study on SSRIs and its effect on cataract formation," says Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International. "As a result, an individual on these drugs may experience blurry vision, difficulty in reading, as well as symptoms of glare, especially when driving at night. Unless surgically removed, the cataract formation may lead to further depression by affecting a person’s quality of life. Be sure to consult with your eye specialist for routine eye examinations, especially if you are taking Luvox, Effexor or Paxil."

For more information on cataracts,visit Lighthouse.org.

In the News

Drug for Parkinson’s Disease May Impact Vision

Long-term use of the drug amantadine for Parkinson’s disease may affect a patient’s vision according to a new study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. Dr. Won Ryang Wee and his colleagues at the Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea compared the eyes of 169 patients on amandatine to a matched control group. They found that the patients with the highest amandatine intake and/or duration (up to eight years) saw reductions in their endothelial cell density (ECD).

While doctors have known that amantadine, which helps mitigate motor problems induced by Parkinson’s, causes abnormal changes in the cornea of some patients, the reactions usually disappear after a few weeks of withdrawal. Some corneal disorders, however, do not recover when amantadine is stopped.

"Assuming other studies confirm these results, ophthalmologists and neurologists should consider evaluating a patient’s corneal endothelium at the beginning of treatment with amandatine and reassess at regular intervals if the drug is used long term," said Dr. Wee in the study. "Additional monitoring would be needed for patients with other conditions that reduce ECD, such as recent cataract surgery or ongoing glaucoma, uveitis or Fuch’s dystrophy because corneal oedema could develop during treatment."

Take Action

Healthy Living Can Slow Age-Related Macular Degeneration

According to Linda Pang, O.D. at Lighthouse International, it is imperative for people suffering from Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) to eat healthy foods and decrease their exposure to free radicals, such as smoking, UV rays, dietary fats, and car exhaust fumes. Some experts believe that certain vitamins and minerals help slow down the progression of AMD because they function as antioxidants. Scientists have found that lutein and zeaxanthin are important to eye health because they are components in the macular pigment cells of healthy eyes. Dark green vegetables, such as spinach, kale and collard greens, can increase the lutein in your bloodstream. Eating healthy, while also decreasing your exposure to free radicals in the environment, can help fight the progression of AMD.

For more information on AMD, visit Lighthouse.org.

Important Date

Lighthouse International Hosting Accessible Technology Seminar

Lighthouse International is holding a seminar on new innovations in the accessible technology field entitled "iPad, iPhone, I Vote," on August 25, 2010 from 6 to 8 p.m. EST. The seminar will feature live demonstrations of the universal accessibility of Apple’s iPad and iPhone. Hosted by Dorrie Rush, Marketing Director of Accessible Technology at Lighthouse International, the event will also showcase New York City’s new low vision accessible voting machines. To reserve your seat, contact Dorrie Rush at drush@lighthouse.org.

New at the Lighthouse

Lighthouse Launches New Online Store

Lighthouse International has launched a new online store as your source for the latest low vision products. The store offers a vast selection of items that can make your day-to-day life easier, including glare-free lighting, magnifying mirrors, watches, clocks, computer software and CCTVs.

Visit the new Lighthouse online store.
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