EyePod: Week in Review - September 17, 2023


Welcome to Ophthalmology Times’ Week in Review, an Eyepod podcast covering some of the week’s top headlines.

Disparities remain an obstacle to health equity in eye care

Mildred M.G. Olivier, MD, speaking recently at the National Medical Association’s 121st Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly, explained that when the topic of inequity is broached, complex feelings often emerge, including guilt, anger, resentment, and defensiveness.

She enumerated multiple educational objectives involving discussions of structural and personal racism, racial and ethnic health disparities, big data, importance of data collection in clinical trials, and education of patients and colleagues. The objective is to examine and dismantle racism head-on and not sidestep the issue on institutional/structural, personally mediated, and internalized levels. Olivier said it is important to examine structures, policies, practices, norms, and values to determine how racial inequities are being maintained and how could race be operating here.

Olivier defined a health disparity as a difference, based on 1 or more health outcomes, that adversely affects members of a defined disadvantaged population. The difference is perpetuated by social injustice in which public and institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work to reinforce perpetuation of racial group inequities.

The most important component of this is the defined populations. These populations are designated by the US Congress, she stated.

Olivier placed the burden squarely on clinicians and urged that data continue to be collected from underserved populations; that clinicians continue to acknowledge and pilot interventions to address social determinants including systemic racism; that they build infrastructure to identify modifiable determinants at multiple levels; that they elevate community voices, formulating ways to increase underrepresented population participation in clinical trials and genomic databases; and that they increase diverse populations to improve scientific understanding of various ophthalmic conditions and improve the standard of care for all patients.

Iveric Bio partnering with actor Eric Stonestreet to raise awareness of geographic atrophy

Iveric Bio, An Astellas company, announced a partnership with two-time Emmy award-winning actor Eric Stonestreet to raise awareness about geographic atrophy, a form of age-related macular degeneration that causes irreversible vision loss.

Stonestreet, best known for his role as Cam in “Modern Family,” and his mother, Jamey, are sharing how GA and AMD has affected their family to inspire others to learn about the disease and be proactive around their eye health as part of the campaign.

According to an Iveric Bio news release, the focus of the campaign is to raise awareness of potential signs and symptoms of GA and its swift progressionand encourages individuals to talk to their eye care professional about how to monitor for the disease.

Stonestreet has seen firsthand the impact GA can have on a family member. The company noted in its news release the actor’s maternal grandmother, Helen, lived with significant vision loss due to her AMD and was later diagnosed with GA. While she faced challenges due to her symptoms, she persevered with an incredible support system and great sense of humor, which inspired her family tremendously. Stonestreet’s mother, Jamey, was also diagnosed with AMD, and she is determined to keep her independence by doing everything she can to preserve her vision.

Prevent Blindness joins World Sight Day global initiative of “Love Your Eyes At Work”

Prevent Blindness is joining the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, as well as other eye organizations across the world for World Sight Day on October 12.

The day is dedicated to helping people understand the importance of protecting their vision in the workplace and calling on business leaders to prioritize the eye health of workers, everywhere and is set to the theme of “Love Your Eyes At Work.”

Study: Pitt surveillance system detected infection linked to eye drops months before outbreak declared

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine created an infectious diseases surveillance system deployed at a UPMC hospital that successfully flagged cases of a drug-resistant infection spread by eye drops months before an outbreak was revealed by national public health officials.

The findings, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, were obtained through a hospital-based program called Enhanced Detection System for Healthcare-Associated Transmission (EDS-HAT). The researchers showed the potential of this technology to detect and stop nationwide outbreaks sooner.

In February, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory, sounding the alarm for an outbreak of a drug resistant strain of the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa that was connected to the use of artificial tears. According to the CDC, 81 patients were identified across 18 US states with 4 deaths.

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