Monday, November 10, 2008

ESCRS booth draws a crowd

The ESCRS Winter Meeting in Rome is attracting lots of interest from ophthalmologists attending the AAO/SOE meeting in Atlanta. Doctors from the US and elsewhere are flocking to the booth to sign up for the ESCRS Winter Meeting, the EURETINA meeting in Nice and the 2009 Congress in Barcelona.

The high quality of the scientific content of all three programmes are big draws for US ophthalmologists and the recent decline of the euro against the dollar and lower costs for airfare are making the trip more attractive for folks on this side of the pond.

Ophthalmologists check out new WaveLight laser

Though it won’t be available until the end of 2009, demonstrations of WaveLight’s just-revealed UltraFlap femtosecond laser concept platform drew a steady stream of interested ophthalmologists – as well as a few spies from the competition – throughout the day. The 200 kHz system will be capable of cutting a LASIK flap in under 15 seconds, matching or bettering the performance of the fastest lasers currently on the market, according to Mario Klafke, WaveLight’s director of product management for ophthalmology.
Designed to enhance quality, safety, comfort and efficiency, the laser’s high repetition rate, small focal area and low pulse energy produce exceptionally smooth flap surfaces with sharp edges that make flap lifting easy, Mr Klafke added. Tests on pig eyes show low standard deviation in flap thickness. The UltraFlap integrates seamlessly with the Allegretto excimer platform. The two can be placed side by side, allowing the patient to be rotated from one to the other during a procedure in an office space as small as nine square metres. They also share data, enabling safety features such as a warning if the surgeon chooses a flap size too small to accommodate the ablation zone. UltraFlap also supports other surgical applications, including sub-Bowman keratomileusis, intracorneal ring segments, lamellar keratoplasty, penetrating keratoplasty and self-sealing keratoplasty.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Faith affects treatment compliance in glaucoma

A broad awareness among ophthalmologists regarding the religious beliefs of the patient groups they treat will allow them to formulate management plans in keeping with these beliefs without compromising care, according to research presented at the joint meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) in Atlanta, Georgia.

Increasingly, ophthalmologists care for patients of diverse backgrounds and this trend is accelerating the need for reliable information on the interaction of religious beliefs and compliance with prescribed treatments.

The effectiveness of glaucoma treatment, in particular, often depends on patients’ ability and willingness to self-administer eye drop medications on a regular schedule over months or years. Glaucoma patients often notice no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, which poses challenges for physicians in motivating patients to stick to treatment regimens. If patients neglect treatment until their vision noticeably declines, the damage is often irreversible.

Many of the world’s religions practise obligatory or voluntary fasting (abstaining from food and often also fluid) during periods that can last from a few days to more than a month, on an annual basis. Researchers led by Nishant Kumar, MBBS, of the University Hospital, Liverpool, UK, studied patient compliance in relation to fasting by analysing 350 surveys completed by members of the world's major faiths: Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Judaism, Bahai, and Buddhism (50 surveys per religion) — the first study of its kind, the researchers believe.

Population reports show that approximately 20 per cent of the world’s people are Muslim and about 15 per cent are Hindu; fasting is important to both religions. It is mandatory during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan for Muslims; for Hindus fasting is generally voluntary.
Dr Kumar’s team previously surveyed Muslim patients on their use of prescribed eye drops during Ramadan and concluded that treatment compliance was significantly reduced in patients who kept the fast. If patients reduced or stopped their glaucoma treatment for an extended period, such as the month of Ramadan or other continuous fasting periods, their vision could be adversely affected.

In the new survey, the majority of patients self-identified as Hindus, Muslims and Jains stated that the use of eye drops during their fasting hours would break their fast, and therefore they would not use drops while fasting. However, these patient groups said they would be more likely to use drops while fasting for painful eye conditions or if vision was affected. The majority of Christian, Buddhist, Bahai and Jewish survey respondents did not believe that using drops would break their fasts, and stated that they would use eye drops during their fasting periods.
“A broad awareness among ophthalmologists regarding the religious beliefs of the patient groups they treat will allow them to formulate management plans in keeping with these beliefs without compromising care,” said Dr Kumar.