"Saving Sight" Symposium Adds Diabetic Eye Problems to Agenda

Madison, Wisconsin - Did you know that one-third of all Americans will suffer from a vision-impairing eye disease by age 65?

 

Nearly nine decades of dedicated research and patient care have put the department of ophthalmology at UW-Madison at the forefront of the latest advances, treatments and education in eye disease. UW Health will host a free educational program on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at the Alliant Energy Center to discuss macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease, the two leading causes of blindness in the country.

 

The UW Health department of ophthalmology and visual sciences is teaming up with the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired to host "Saving Sight Symposium: Fighting Back Against Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Eye Disease." It is free to the public, but advance registration is required by Friday, Oct. 3. Parking will be free at 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way in Madison.

 

"This is a chance for patients and families to not only learn about the latest developments, but connect with others having a similar experience," said Barbara Blodi, professor of ophthalmology. "A lot of the people coming have participated in UW clinical trials and they know we are making progress. We hope the public sees this as an opportunity to come and learn about early detection and treatments."

 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends all adults at age 40 should get a baseline eye-disease screening by an eye-care professional.

 

The daylong event, which starts at 8am, will devote the morning session to macular degeneration, and the afternoon session to discussing diabetic eye disease. Exhibits will feature the latest video magnifiers, computer aids and other resources.

 

The National Eye Institute estimates about 4.1 million people in the United State 40 years and older have diabetic retinopathy (diabetic eye disease), which is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. This disease is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. If you are diabetic and your blood sugar is too high, over time your eyes can be damaged.

 

Diet, supplements and injections into the eye are already forms of treatment, but doctors at UW are investigating stem cells and their potential use as treatment for both macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease.

 

"We are very excited diabetic eye disease is on our agenda this year. My lab exclusively investigates stem cells and I will discuss current and future stem-cell trials for age-related macular degeneration and how we go about making retinal cells from human stem cells," said David Gamm, associate professor of ophthalmology.

 

Macular degeneration affects an estimated 10 million Americans and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60. Damaged blood vessels leak fluid in the retina and cause blurry, washed-out vision that includes wavy lines and blind spots.

 

Register online at the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired website or by calling 1-800-783-5213.


Date Published: 09/17/2014

News tag(s):  eyesbarbara a blodidavid m gamm

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