ARVO 2018: Dr. Henry Klassen Provides Update on jCyte Stem Cell Trials

Dr. Henry Klassen, jCyte co-founder and investigator at UC Irvine, provides an update in the video below on the clinical trials for an RP therapy derived from stem cells.


ARVO 2018: Dr. Stephen Daiger Reports on the State of Genetic Testing for Inherited Retinal Diseases

After presenting a poster on a new mutation in the RP gene KIF3B at the ARVO meeting in Honolulu, FFB-funded geneticist Dr. Stephen Daiger discusses the progress that’s been made in genetic testing for people with inherited retinal conditions.

Do lens coatings break down over time?


When you think of the life span of a pair of glasses, there are likely two scenarios that pop into mind. Perhaps your prescription changed or maybe they broke. But say you’re amazing at caring for your glasses and your doctor says you don’t have changes to your vision that require you to get a new prescription, there is still an important aspect of your glasses you should keep up to date—your lenses.

Do lens coatings or additions break down over time?

“Coatings, just like anything else in the world has wear and tear, and they’re not going to last forever,” said VSP network doctor Nichole Moos, OD.

Wait, what’s a coating and why do I need it?

Coatings and additions, also known as lens enhancements, are an optional feature for your prescription lenses that are designed to improve your overall experience with your glasses. Not only do they help with glare and providing comfortable vision, they can protect your lenses from visible scratches that reduce your ability to see. They can also be water and oil resistant, as well as easier to clean. Common lens enhancement options include anti-reflective (AR) coatings, light-reactive, and blue light reduction. Having a lens enhancement or coating added to your lenses will optimize your vision, but it’s important to remember that a higher-quality AR coating will perform better, which will help to extend the life of the coating and the lenses.

There are several choices when it comes to enhancements, and an eye doctor can explain which options will benefit you the most. Your vision plan typically provides savings on different lens enhancements too.

According to Dr. Moos, lens enhancements and coatings can last anywhere from a year to about two years. With a higher-quality enhancement or coating and proper care, you can greatly increase the shelf-life of your lenses.

Watch Dr. Moos describe the signs that it’s time to update your lens coatings.


Consult with your eye doctor on what lens enhancements and coatings are right for you and when you need to replace them. Use our Find a Doctor tool for a quick and easy way to locate your nearest VSP network provider.

Don’t have a vision care plan? Check out all the available individual plans to meet your eye care needs.

If you have a general eye-related question, be sure to comment below or post to social media with hashtag #AskAnEyeDoc.

Disclaimer:  Information received through VSP Vision Care’s social media channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Eyelash Extensions – Yay or Nay?


What You Should Know Before Heading To The Salon.

Eyelash extensions are individual lashes, made of a synthetic fiber such as nylon, which a professional aesthetician glues one by one to each of your top lashes. Using long, pointed tweezers, the tech brushes a single synthetic lash in a dab of adhesive. With another pair of tweezers, she separates the natural extensions-under-the-tweezers-1.jpg?resize=259%2C217lashes to isolate just one. Then the synthetic lash is placed on the natural lash, holding it for a few seconds while the glue bonds. The tech repeats the process, one lash at a time, attaching 40 to 100 lashes per eye. The tech will use several lengths of lashes, attaching the longest artificial lashes to your longest natural lashes.

The expected outcome is a dramatic, lush look, so some consumers are surprised when faced with side effects they hadn’t bargained for. Recently, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has warned of these dangers associated with eyelash extensions:

  • Irritation and redness.
  • Inflammation and swelling.
  • Infection. Extensions can trap dirt and bacteria, leading to serious infections, including pink eye.
  • Allergic reaction. The glues in some lash adhesives contain formaldehyde, which can cause a severe allergic reaction over time that can result in oozing and crusting. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen.
  • Loss of eyelashes. Yes, you can end up with bald eyes!

Why it’s important to keep eyelash extensions clean.

If eyelash extensions are not properly cleaned, problems may occur. Over time severe build-up of make-up residue, oil and/or dead skin cells can accumulate at the base of the lashes. This is severely unhygienic and in addition, clogged lash follicles can result in your natural lashes growing through weaker than they should, and you could be putting yourself at a higher risk for sensitivities and infections.

Some women do not ever remove all the residue and that can lead to a complicated problem called Demodex folliculitis.


Demodex are mites, a parasite found in the follicles of our faces, mainly, in the nose, cheeks and most especially the end of the eyelash area. So, when the lids and lash margin are not being cleaned on a regular basis and when the hygiene is not being maintained, over time those mites can overpopulate and symptoms can be severe. Your eyelashes basically become somewhat of a feast of dirt and oils for these mites. This could lead to a situation where too many eyelash mites are eating off a single follicle. Not only will this infect your eyes but it can cause a severe loss of eyelashes.

Here are some tips on how to keep your lash extensions clean:

  1. Remove all eye-makeup using an oil and glycol-free makeup remover. If taking off eyeliner, use a cotton tip dipped in remover and wipe it across your lid, or away from the lid. Never towards the base of the extensions. Don’t use cotton balls or pads as they will catch on the base of the extensions.
  2. If you are wearing heavy foundation, remove this too before washing eyes, using your cleanser (preferably an oil free cleanser) but AVOIDING the eye area.
  3. Wet your eyes with cool water. Take a very, small amount of a lash shampoo or you can use tear-free baby shampoo and lather it up on your palm. Close your eyes and apply this to both eyes, one at a time. Repeat if necessary.
  4. Rinse off shampoo and dab your eyes gently dry.
  5. Use your lash wand to very gently twirl through your lashes and fan them back out.

Are eyelash extensions worth it, considering the health risks?

Health should always trump beauty, especially when there are risks involved. Our advice is to avoid eyelash extensions altogether, and stick to fresh mascara or eyeliner. Although, if you feel like you have to absolutely try them, make sure you take these necessary safety precautions, recommended by the AAO.

  • Research the technician and establishment where you plan to have the procedure done. Ask for their certifications and all side effects that may occur. If the aesthetician cannot answer your questions, keep shopping until you find one who can.
  • Assess the salon’s environment and hygiene practices. Can you observe frequent hand washing? Are the instruments sanitized?
  • Read up on each ingredient in the glue used to adhere the eyelashes. This may be what convinces you to pursue other ways of enhancing your look. Some salons won’t even offer you the package for inspection, which should be an indication to use caution.
  • If you do notice signs of infection, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

ARVO 2018: Dr. Steve Rose Reports on CRISPR/Cas9 for Inherited Retinal Diseases

FFB’s own Dr. Steve Rose, chief scientific officer, reviews our commitment to funding and exploring CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing for inherited retinal disease in the video below.

FFB currently funds CRISPR/Cas9 projects at four institutions:

  • Johns Hopkins University (retinitis pigmentosa caused by the P23H mutation in RHO)
  • Columbia University (RP caused by the D190N mutation in RHO)
  • Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (RP caused by a mutation in RP1)
  • UCLA (Usher syndrome 1B caused by a mutation in MYO7A)

Want to learn more about the benefits of CRISPR/Cas9? Check out: A Cut-and-Paste Approach to Fixing Retinal-Disease Genes


Glaucoma is often called the “sneak thief of vision”, as it can go unnoticed until it’s too late. Glaucoma.jpgIt is a leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60. Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve and the condition deteriorates over time.

It is caused by fluid buildup in the frontal part of the eye. And the increased fluid in turn increases the pressure in the eye, thereby damaging the optic nerve. The damage can lead to permanent blindness within a few years.

Types of Glaucoma:

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma: Also called wide angled glaucoma, it is the most common type of Glaucoma. The eye does not drain fluid like it should in this case. As a result of this, pressure in the eye builds up and starts to damage the optic nerve. This type of Glaucoma is painless and doesn’t affect your vision if treated early. Regular eye exams are recommended over the age of 60 to detect the early onset of glaucoma.

Angle Closure Glaucoma or Closed Angle Glaucoma: This type of glaucoma occurs when the iris of the eye is close to the drainage angle and ends up blocking it. When the drainage angle gets completely blocked, eye pressure increases, and this is called an acute attack. Angle closure glaucoma can cause blindness, if not treated immediately.

Symptoms of Glaucoma: Usually, most people do not experience any symptoms. Often times the only symptom is the loss of peripheral vision. However, some symptoms indicate a possibility of glaucoma and you shouldn’t ignore them:

  • Sudden eye pain, headache or blurred vision.
  • Observing halos around lights
  • Eye appearing hazy
  • Redness in the eye
  • Tunnel vision
  • Nausea and vomiting


The ophthalmologist will administer eye drops to dilate your pupils before administering a vision test. He will then examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage. Your eye-doctor will also check the fluid pressure in your eyes.

A visual acuity test will determine the clarity of sharpness of your vision. A visual field test might be required to measure peripheral vision. The eye doctor may run a simple corneal thickness test called Pachymetry if you have abnormal IOP (intraocular eye pressure), to help diagnose your case better.

Treatment for Glaucoma:

Medicines: Eye drops or pills are the most common early treatment for glaucoma to reduce intraocular pressure. However, these medicines could have side effects like allergies, redness, and blurred vision; let your doctor know if you have any serious health conditions.

Laser trabeculoplasty: This procedure helps drain out the fluid in the eye. You will have to continue taking glaucoma medicines after this procedure.

Laser Iridotomy: In this procedure a tiny hole is made in the iris to help ease the flow of fluid.

Conventional surgery: This is recommended when laser and eye drops aren’t getting you the desired results. A small piece of tissue is removed from the eye to create a new channel to drain the fluid in the eye. Conventional surgery is 60-80% effective at reducing the eye pressure.

To make sure that you don’t suddenly lose your vision, if you’re above 60 you should have a comprehensive eye checkup exam every year.

Houman Ahdieh, MD
Lehigh Valley Center for Sight

ARVO 2018: Studies Show Mediterranean Diet May Lower Advanced AMD Risk

Audio version:

Several research studies have suggested that the Mediterranean diet (MeDi) – which is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, and fish – may be good for your health, including lowering your risk of an early visit from the grim reaper.

Known as the EYE-RISK CONSORTIUM, a large international research collaboration found that the MeDi reduced the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 39 percent. The researcher’s findings were highlighted in a poster on May 1 at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Honolulu.

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people over 55 years of age. The condition affects an estimated 150 million people globally.

The researchers analyzed food-frequency questionnaires from nearly 5,000 people, who were participants in two previous investigations – the Rotterdam Study, which evaluated disease risk in the elderly, and the ALIENOR Study, which assessed the association between eye diseases and nutritional factors.

AMD is a complex disease with many other risk factors including aging and genetics, neither of which you can do much about. Smoking is the largest modifiable risk factor. So, if you happen to indulge in the habit, saving your vision is a good reason, among many, to give it up.