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EyePod: Week in Review - August 6, 2023


Take a look at a review of the highlights and hottest stories from Ophthalmology Times during the week of August 6, 2023.

Welcome to the Ophthalmology Times EyePod Week in Review podcast, offering a look at some of the top headlines.

T Boone Pickens Foundation donates $20 million to Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine

The T Boone Pickens Foundation, established by the late, Texan innovative energy leader and philanthropist it is named for, is donating $20 million to the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine. The gift, announced in 2013, is one of the largest research donations in Wilmer’s history. It will fund vision-saving research and a professorship.

According to a news release from the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Pickens’ interest in the treatment and research of eye conditions developed in the 1980s after his father’s diagnosis of macular degeneration. At the time, no treatments existed to prevent decline of his father’s healthy vision.

The latest financial gift was made after Cordia and Jay Rosser, a foundation representative, visited Wilmer leaders and researchers early this summer to discuss how the donation would be used at the institute and new research spaces under construction at Johns Hopkins.

Jay Rosser noted that Pickens’ philanthropic impact exceeded $1 billion and was directed at some of the world’s most cutting-edge research institutions, and the Wilmer Eye Institute is high on that list.

Ophthalmologists warn castor oil shouldn’t be rubbed in the eyes, no matter what they do on TikTok

Ophthalmologists are issuing a warning not to use castor oil as a way to treat vision problems amid claims circulating on TikTok.

In its heyday, castor oil was considered a jack-of-all-trades home remedy, used as a laxative, a moisturizer and even as a chest rub to ease lung congestion. Now, it is making a comeback as some influencers on TikTok claim they are using castor oil as treatment for vision problems.

However, ophthalmologists are sounding the alarm, according to an NBC News report, with dozens of videos on the social media platform receiving millions of views showing people rubbing castor oil over their eyelids, across their eyelashes and under their eyes to help treat issues like dryness, floaters, cataracts, poor vision, and even glaucoma.

Castor oil is a type of vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the castor bean plant, and it has been used for thousands of years in traditional and folk medicine to treat a range of issues from bronchitis to skin infections.

Castor oil on store shelves are not meant to be used on the eyes and could contain dyes, preservatives, fragrances or other ingredients that can cause irritation or infection. It also may not be sterilized.

Dr. Ashley Brissette, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, said in a statement that castor oil is not a cure-all. If anyone has concerns about their eyes, then need to see an ophthalmologist.”

Moreover, Dr. Vicki Chan, a practicing ophthalmologist in Los Angeles, said in a statement that castor oil does not have any effect on cataracts or glaucoma.

Concern over unknown long-term effects of wildfire smoke

With 2023 officially being the worst wildfire season ever in Canada, ophthalmologists are urging for more awareness on the long-term effects wildfire smoke can have on the eye.

Wind has pushed the wildfire smoke across Canada and several states in the United States, causing major dips in air quality – at one point New York City had the worst air quality on the planet due to the wildfire smoke.

There are currently more than 1000 active wildfires burning in Canada, with 740 of them being labeled as “out of control” by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which noted more than 5000 wildfires have started in Canada this year.

According to Vancouver ophthalmologist Briar Sexton, MD, eye symptoms such as dry, itchy, red, painful, watery and gritty eyes can happen before the smoke is even noticeable.

A recent review on the wildfires that swept across Australia in 2020 by Environmental Pollution found evidence that wildfire smoke and other air pollution sources have harmful effects on ocular surface, causing eye symptoms and changes to normal function of the ocular surface. The same review found it remained to be seen whether repeated or long-term smoke exposure carries an increased risk long term of ocular surface disease.

WIO Summer symposium: Empowering aspirations

The 2023 Women In Ophthalmology Summer Symposium will begin on Thursday, August 24, and run to Sunday, August 27, at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, Marco Island, FL.

The WIO Summer Symposium is a “must-attend event,” according to the organizers who said the symposium is a curated meeting for women offering the best of the best’content in all subjects of importance to women ophthalmologists. Nowhere else will attendees find so many dynamic speakers and specialized educational content in a collegial atmosphere designed specifically for women.

The conference has both in-person and virtual programs. Interested parties can register for the in-person program, as well as for the virtual meeting online.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the main educational days of the conference, all feature sessions designed to uplift, inspire, and empower attendees.

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