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Contact lens with built-in sensor can measure risk of glaucoma progression, study finds

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO – A contact lens with a built-in sensor could help determine which glaucoma patients have a higher risk of disease progression, according to a new study. Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center found certain patterns of electrical signals emitted from the "smart" contact lenses correlate with a faster rate of glaucoma progression. 
 
The findings are being published online Thursday in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
 
Glaucoma remains a leading cause of blindness. One of the main indicators of the disease is high pressure in the eye, or intraocular pressure. Doctors often check eye pressure to gauge a patient's eye health. However, these tests yield a single snapshot in time and are impractical to perform at night when eye pressure typically rises. With the advent of smart contact lenses that monitor patients continuously, scientists are hoping to solve that problem.
 
Researchers at Columbia tested the lenses on 40 patients between ages 40 and 89 undergoing treatment for open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease. Over two years, scientists performed at least eight standard visual field tests on these patients. Half were classified as having slow disease progression while the other 20 had fast disease progression.
 
The patients then wore a smart contact lens for 24 hours, including overnight as they slept. The lens' sensor detects changes in lens curvature. As eye pressure fluctuates, the curve changes, generating an electrical signal sent to a wireless device that records the signals. Similar to how an electrocardiogram shows a heartbeat, the profile of signals from the smart lens indirectly shows eye pressure changes over time.
 
Investigators found that patients with steeper spikes recorded overnight and a greater number of peaks in their signal profile overall tended to have faster glaucoma progression. This information provides more insight into glaucoma and also a blueprint for deciphering the signals from this new wearable technology. Using these findings, clinicians can better estimate the risk of progression by looking at a readout from the smart lens. The findings could also have implications when using the lenses to evaluate glaucoma treatments.  
 
"What we see in these measurements is a signature that indicates which glaucoma patients will get worse and which are relatively stable, which you can't do with a one-time eye pressure measurement," said study author Gustavo De Moraes, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Columbia University Medical Center. "This could be very useful if you want to know whether a new medication is working for a patient. You can see how their eye is reacting to the therapy in a much more meaningful way." 
 
The Sensimed Triggerfish contact lens system used in this study is approved in Europe but does not currently have approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Other contact lens systems that can continuously measure eye pressure are also in development.    
 
 
 

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Walgreens tracks the uptick in flu incidence that the CDC warned about

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. – While flu activity remains relatively low across most of the U.S., The Walgreens Flu Index data is tracking increased flu activity in the South and Midwest regions. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they expect flu activity to peak in the coming weeks and recommend everyone over the age of six months get their flu vaccination now, as it takes up to two weeks to build up full immunity following a flu shot. 
 
Flu season most often peaks in February in the U.S., Walgreens reported. 
 
The top 10 markets for the week of Jan. 31 in terms of measured flu activity were: 
 
  1. Harlingen – Weslaco-Brownsville – McAllen, Texas;
  2. Tallahassee, Fla. – Thomasville, Ga.;
  3. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, N.M.);
  4. Tucson (Sierra Vista), Ariz.;
  5. Miami – Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.;
  6. Phoenix (Prescott), Ariz.;
  7. Las Vegas;
  8. Oklahoma City;
  9. Beaumont – Port Arthur, Texas; and
  10. Dallas – Ft. Worth, Texas. 
 
The top 10 markets in terms of flu activity gains were: 
 
  1. Tallahassee, Fla. – Thomasville, Ga.;
  2. Harlingen – Weslaco – Brownsville – McAllen, Texas;
  3. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, N.M.);
  4. Tucson (Sierra Vista), Ariz.;
  5. Memphis, Tenn.;
  6. Joplin, Mo. – Pittsburg, Kan.;
  7. Phoenix (Prescott), Ariz.;
  8. Myrtle Beach – Florence, S.C.;
  9. Orlando – Daytona Beach – Melbourne, Fla.; and
  10. Monterey – Salinas, Calif.
 
The Walgreens Flu Index is a weekly report developed to provide state- and market-specific information, and ranking of those experiencing the highest incidences of influenza across the country. The Flu Index does not provide data measuring actual levels or severity of flu activity, but rather, illustrates which populations are experiencing the most incidences each week based on Index methodology.
 

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Hisamitsu America introduces new Salonpas Pain Relieving Patch

BY DSN STAFF

FLORHAM PARK, N.J.  – Hisamitsu America on Thursday launched the new Salonpas Pain Relieving Patch, a latex-free patch with a suggested retail price of $10.99 that features beige stretchable fabric with rounder corners, includes 60 larger size patches, enhanced adhesion, peel resistance and improved effectiveness.
 
“We developed this new Pain Relieving Patch to improve the patch user’s experience while maintaining great value,” stated John Incledon, president and CEO, Hisamitsu America. “These patches are 20% larger than the original patches and allow for quicker skin permeation of Methyl Salicylate which is an important performance factor in reducing pain quickly.”
 
Salonpas includes three active ingredients – camphor (3.1%), menthol (10%) and methyl salicylate (15%) – which provide temporary relief of minor aches and pains.
 
 

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