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New Frontiers

Genomics: treatment based upon your own genetic makeup

The Medical Eye Center’s approach that your eye is the window to your body lead to our association with New Amsterdam Genomics (NAG, www.nagenomics.com).   NAG’s philosophy is to bring “precision medicine to life” by analyzing your DNA to enable people to not have to react to symptoms but by proactively preventing a problem their DNA predisposes them to.

Many of our patients have a parent or sibling with glaucoma or macular degeneration and the next logical question is do I have that disease or am I predisposed to develop the condition.  MEC’s physicians will detect whether you have the condition but the more important question is can I do anything  proactively to prevent the vision loss these condition produce in the first place.

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Genetic  factors are considered to play a key role in the development of ophthalmic diseases.  Genetic variants  are associated with increased susceptibility to optic nerve damage in glaucoma, juvenile glaucoma ,  macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.  Dr. Hammer has had his DNA sequenced by NAG and bizarrely had two autosomal recessive genes for ophthalmic disease. He did not have the known genes for macular degeneration but had the CYP1B1 gene associated with glaucoma and a second gene associated with retinitis pigmentosa.  The CYP1B1 gene is the dominant genetic cause for glaucoma in children in the Middle East and Europe.  He is now being much more proactive in getting his eyes examined for minute changes in his eyes.

The newest frontier in disease prevention is to detect the condition before the symptoms appear.  Since Dr. Hammer had his own DNA sequenced by NAG they are working with us to enable treatment decisions base on utilizing our patients own genetic makeup.

High Energy Visible Light (HEVL)

A new ocular and skin threat known as High Energy Visible Light (HEVL), which is prevalent not just outdoors, but indoors as well has emerged as technology has advanced.

We all are capable of seeing light in the visible spectrum which ranges from a wavelength of about 400 to 700 nanometers; non-visible light with a shorter wavelength, under 400, is referred to as ultraviolet (UV) light and longer than 700 nanometers is termed infrared light.  HEVL is blue light in the 400-450 nanometer wavelength and like the name implies is visible.

The indoor threat of HEVL is posed largely by digital devices such as computer screens, tablets, smart phones, LED flat screen televisions and the new Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs).

Blue light, wavelength under 450 nanometers has been shown to cause retinal cell death and contribute to cataract formation. Cumulative blue light exposure can worsen the risk of retinal damage in patients with macular degeneration; this is particularly true once a patient has undergone cataract surgery.  Exposure to blue light at night will reduce melatonin production from the pineal gland making us more alert and hence interfering with sleep.

Similarly, skin damage caused by HEV light may be as harmful as the damage caused by UV light. HEVL does not cause the redness caused by UV light but it penetrates the skin to a deeper level and is thought to be another silent, long-term ageing wavelength creating wrinkles and uneven skin pigmentation. Melanin (Liposhield TM HEV) is the first ingredient designed to protect the skin from HEVL. It is not a sunscreen because it only works in the HEV light range but in can be incorporated into sunscreens in order to cover the light not addressed by ultraviolet filters such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone.

The optical industry has evolved a line of products to include HEVL protection that range from coatings on your lenses that filter HEVL to lenses themselves that filter both UV and HEVL.

There is less availability of skin care products that contain melanin compared to the number of coatings and lenses available to protect your eyes. The Medical Eye Center has been approved by ZO Medical to distribute their sunscreen formulas which each offer a daily multi-defense system with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection combined with fractionated melanin which shields the skin from HEVL. We will be carrying three sunscreen products each with the fractionated melanin; one is a physical sunscreen with titanium dioxide and two chemical sunscreens with avobenzone.

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