Glaucoma is a controllable disease with the potential to lead to irreversible blindness. While community screening efforts have helped prevent the visual deterioration patients would otherwise experience, these screenings still do not reach a large number of people. Effective screening depends on the availability of convenient and affordable access to care for high-risk populations. This is not always possible in remote communities. To ensure at-risk individuals are diagnosed and receive care quickly, it needs to be easier and more convenient for patients to get their eyes checked regularly.

One strategy is telehealth, which is currently being tested for glaucoma screening in several different areas. …

Advancements ranging from artificial intelligence to 3D printing are making it possible to personalize medicine, confirm diagnoses and expedite processes for a level of care that is unprecedented. One of the technologies that holds much promise for the future of health care is machine learning. A subset of artificial intelligence, machine learning involves the use of massive amounts of data to create precise algorithms and solve intricate problems. The following are some of the most exciting applications of machine learning in health care:

1. Outbreak Prediction

While the medical industry is becoming more focused on precision care, population health still has an important role to play. In fact, the two can work synergistically to maximize the benefits of the health industry.

In the broadest sense, population health is the drive to improve outcomes and lower costs of care for a specifically defined group of patients. Population health can, therefore, drive the appropriate adoption of precision care. Doing this means more responsible use of personalized approaches and a better understanding of individual risk factors and barriers to optimal health. The health care industry has acknowledged the decreases in risk such an approach could provide, yet, according to a recent report by Numerof & Associates, Inc., …

With the prevalence of glaucoma set to expand in the coming years, researchers are looking at new ways of treating the disease, from using stem cells to a process known as neuroprotection. Traditional approaches to treatment have focused largely on reducing intraocular pressure (IOP), but achieving this does not always protect a person from optic nerve damage. In fact, damage can occur even among individuals with normal or low IOP. Furthermore, one study found that almost 30 percent of patients receiving treatment focused on relieving pressure will eventually go blind in one eye, while nearly 10 percent will become legally blind. …

Ophthalmologists have an impressive array of techniques available to treat patients with glaucoma. For many patients, ideal intraocular pressures can be achieved through pharmacological therapy, or the newly developed minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) techniques. Another available option is laser surgery, which is also less invasive than trabeculectomy, the gold standard of surgical treatment.

While laser techniques and MIGS offerings have grown in popularity, they have not yet rendered trabeculectomy obsolete. A number of patients do not get the response they need from minimally invasive techniques, or the response does not prove durable. …

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Largest Study of Chinese Americans published in Ophthalmic Epidemiology finds risk factors for vision impairment include age, education, acculturation and diabetes

CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (CHA HPMC), a hospital that is a member of CHA Health Systems, a global network providing a full spectrum of dynamic healthcare services, today announced publication of a study by Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, director of its Southern California Eye Institute, assessing risk factors for vision impairment in Chinese Americans. …

The healthcare industry is being quickly transformed by a range of new technologies, from machine learning to virtual reality. One of the newer technologies receiving a lot of attention lately in the healthcare sector is blockchain.

The term blockchain, in short, is a computing technology that guarantees the accuracy of data in real time. The data is stored into blocks that are shared among many users. The database requires a key to unencrypt the data and change it. Only then can all users see the changes. …

In recent years, virtual reality (VR) technology has become much more visible with the release of Oculus, devices that change smartphones into VR headsets and more VR-based video games. VR technology isn’t limited to the telecom and entertainment industries, however. Increasingly, healthcare providers are using VR for a range of purposes, such as telemedicine. Here are the top six incredible applications of VR in the healthcare field.

1. Pain Relief

While technological advances have improved screening and diagnosis of glaucoma, one of the persistent challenges in treatment remains medication adherence. A 2016 article in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found glaucoma medication adherence was shockingly low. Approximately 30 percent of patients followed medication instructions adequately over a two-year period.

The authors of the study recommended pharmacists assume a more central role in encouraging adherence. They also highlighted the importance of some sort of intervention when it comes to ensuring patients take their medications correctly.

Other researchers have worked to identify the barriers to medication adherence among individuals with glaucoma. The majority of patients they interviewed identified multiple barriers, with low self-efficacy and forgetfulness emerging as primary issues. …

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness both in the United States and around the world. As the world’s population ages in the coming years, the incidence of the disease is expected to increase. Because of this, researchers are focusing on how to prevent the disease, how to diagnose it earlier and how to track its progression.

Recently, a company named Q BioMed made progress with the latter. It announced licensure of a diagnostic marker which can be used to gauge the severity of glaucoma. The biomarker, known as growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), has been studied at Washington University in St. Louis and found to correspond to the level of severity of glaucoma in a patient. …


Rohit Varma

Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, is an internationally recognized opthalmologist and researcher who focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.

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