Google AI May Reveal Health Risks Through Your Eyes

Google AI May Reveal Health Risks Through Your Eyes

You visit the ophthalmologist to get your vision checked, but sometimes an eye exam reveals much more. Researchers at Google say a new application of artificial intelligence shows whether a patient’s eyes point to high blood pressure or risk of a heart attack or stroke.

That the eyes can detect disease in other parts of the body is not new. Through a routine eye exam, doctors can detect diabetes, cancers and other illnesses.

Google’s AI technology has the potential to make detection of diseases faster and cheaper, possibly even providing tools that allow the public to screen themselves, according to a report in The Verge.


Additional information on “Assessing Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Computer Vision” is available at the Google Research Blog.


Written By: Ari Soglin
Feb. 20, 2018

Winter UV Eye Safety

The Hidden Risk for Skiers and Snowboarders

Most of us remember to wear eye protection and sunscreen in the summer, but we probably don’t think about it as much during the winter months, even though studies show that sun exposure — regardless of season — may increase the risk of developing cataracts, snow blindness and growths on the eye, including cancer.

Do you take the necessary precautions before you enjoy beautiful winter days? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t do so consistently.

In a recent study published in Archives of Dermatology, researchers took multiple readings of winter UV radiation at 32 high-altitude ski areas in western North America and interviewed thousands of skiers and snowboarders to find out whether they took precautions against the sun, such as wearing hats, sunscreen and goggles. The study found that most skiers and snowboarders took only occasional precautions against the sun.

However, sun reflecting off the snow can be very harsh. Exposure to UV radiation can even be high on cloudy days; in the northern hemisphere, the highest exposure is at midday. This extends through late winter and into early spring. Exposure also increases with elevation: the highest UV rating from the Archives of Dermatology study was taken at Mammoth Mountain in California.

Excessive exposure to UV light reflected off snow can damage the eyes’ front surface. In addition to cataracts, sun exposure can lead to lesions and tumors that may be cosmetically unappealing and require surgical removal. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people be especially careful to protect their eyes in the winter months and only wear goggles or sunglasses with UV protection.


Article appeared in American Academy of Ophthalmology

Apr. 29, 2014

Discuss your family’s eye history this JulEYE.

It’s as simple as having a conversation and as serious as saving your eyesight.

The RANZCO Eye Foundation (Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists), a national not-for-profit organization, dedicates the month of July to its annual community awareness campaign.  JulEYE is aimed at educating Australians about eye disease and this year is encouraging everyone to discuss their family eye history. Despite 75% of vision loss being preventable or treatable, many Australians are still not finding out if eye disease is part of their family history to determine if they’re at risk and need to have their eyes checked.


RANZCO Fellow, Professor Frank Martin AM says: “To ensure we preserve our eyesight, Australians need to be more aware of their family’s eye history. If you have a family history of eye disease, a medical condition that can have eye related issues such as diabetes or are over the age of 40, eye testing every two years is essential as it is the most effective way to identify problems early. So this July, find out about your family’s eye health history.”

CEO of The RANZCO Eye Foundation, Jacinta Spurrett explains the JulEYE campaign, now in its sixth year, continues to educate Australians about eye disease.

“Too many young people equate vision loss or blindness to old age, but eye disease, like cancer, is indiscriminate and can happen at any age. More than 200,000 Australians are currently suffering from vision loss related to eye disease and every year a further 10,000 Australians will lose part of their vision or go blind. It is very important that you find out if you have a history of eye disease in the family and if necessary, be referred to an Ophthalmologist to have your eyes tested this July,” Spurrett adds.

“Each year we aim to reach more and more Australians with our message. Our focus in the first week of JulEYE is to encourage Australians to discuss their family’s eye history and to get their eyes tested if there is a history of eye disease. We will also highlight the real and increasing rate of diabetic retinopathy. With over 1.1 million Australians currently diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes , it is vital that eye health check-ups are part of their overall diabetes management. Throughout JulEYE we will continue to challenge Australians to start talking about their family’s eye health and make it part of their family health discussions,” Jacinta Spurrett said.

Joining the JulEYE call to action is INXS band member and ‘JulEYE’ Ambassador, Kirk Pengilly; renowned Australian legal academic and 2011 Senior Australian of Year, Professor Ron McCallum AO, who has been totally blind since birth; former Director of the National Gallery of Australia, Betty Churcher AO who suffers from macular degeneration; and one of Australia’s highest-selling independent musical artists and motivational speakers, Lorin Nicholson who is also legally blind.

No one should take his or her eyesight for granted.

An eye test can detect the main causes of vision loss such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts. Eye disease is not just an affliction of the elderly – many of these diseases are hereditary and can cause blindness in babies, teenagers and adults alike. To find out where you can be tested, or to donate to The RANZCO Eye Foundation and support eye health research and sustainable development projects, visit or to join the conversation, go to:


Do glasses weaken your eyes?

The popular belief that glasses weaken your eyes is a myth.

If you wear glasses, chances are you’ve wondered from time to time if they’re making your eyesight worse. Not while you’re wearing them, but when you take them off.

Pretty much everyone will need glasses at some point in their lives. And when it happens to you, you’ll probably ask yourself the question on the lips of specs wearers everywhere: do glasses weaken your eyes?

Struggling to focus on printed matter is an unfortunate sign of ageing. Changes to the lens of the eye as you get older mean you have to move the page further and further away before you can see properly. It’s called presbyopia and it strikes us all, usually by our mid 40s. And most of us end up having to wear glasses.

If you think your eyesight’s got worse since you’ve started wearing glasses, you’re far from alone. But the truth is many eye conditions, including presbyopia, get worse over time by themselves, specs or no specs.

In other words, it seems harder to read things without your glasses because it is. But it was going to happen anyway, and your glasses aren’t to blame.

What your specs have done is got you used to seeing more clearly. So when you take them off, the contrasting blurriness is more noticeable.

Glasses don’t change the process of presbyopia or other eye conditions. But take them off, and your eyes might seem a tad lazy at mustering any remaining focusing power. That’s because the muscles that bend and straighten the lens of your eye haven’t worked as hard when your specs have been doing some of the job.

But your glasses haven’t made your vision worse. The real problem isn’t weak focusing muscles; the real problem is your eye’s lens has become less flexible so it can’t focus as well. And there’s not much you can do about that.

Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV light might help delay the stiffening of the lens that causes presbyopia. But the only way to escape it completely is to die young. Not a great option!

So if you want to see well throughout life, wearing glasses or contact lenses is pretty much inevitable – and not harmful. You might as well just accept it (and blame your high school careers adviser for not steering you into the lucrative field of optometry!)

Thanks to Professor David Atchinson, Queensland University of Technology for expert information and Jordan’s Seafood Restaurant and HineSight Optometry for filming assistance.


Article appeared on ABC Health & Wellbeing 

by Cathy Johnson

Published 01/07/2008

eyes all over

Eyes All Over – 36th Annual AONA Conference

36th Annual Australian Ophthalmic Nurses Association Conference – Eyes All Over

The clinical team from FOCUS Eye Centre attended the 36th Annual AONA Conference in Sydney over the weekend, with the theme for 2018 set as Eyes All Over. 

Our clinical team was well represented at the conference with Ophthalmologist and Deputy Director of the Lions NSW Eye Bank Dr Con Petsoglou presenting the Welcoming Address on corneal graft surgery and Orthoptist Sally Turner presenting on IOL selection for spectacle free vision. Both presentations were well received by conference attendees and discussed latest technology in corneal graft surgery and information to consider when planning cataract surgery in order to provide better patient outcomes.


Technology was a popular topic at the conference with advances in ophthalmology discussed throughout the day, as well as specific cases on uveitis, keratoprosthesis, clinical education, holistic patient care and updates on the NSQHS standards.


Focus Eye Centre prides itself on ensuring our staff are well versed and keep our Eyes All Over the latest advances in ophthalmology to provide to our patients.









bionic eye

Major step taken toward bionic eye trials in Australia

A major step towards helping the blind to see again has been taken, with an Australian-developed ‘bionic eye’ receiving ethics approval to start human trials.

Professor Jeffrey Rosenfeld at the Monash Vision Group says patient recruitment for the first trial will begin in the next two months.

“This is a very major milestone for us,” Prof Rosenfeld told AAP while at the Health Beyond Research; Innovation Showcase in Sydney yesterday.

He said the approval granted by the Alfred Health Ethics Committee is a vindication of what his team has achieved so far.

“We can now start manufacturing enough of the devices to go into our first patient,” he said.

“I would aim to do one or two patients to start with just to do very detailed testing and make sure the device is doing everything we are hoping its going to do.

“Then once we have shown that, we can then start doing more patients and get other centres to take it on as well, both in Australia and overseas,” he said.

The Gennaris Bionic Vision System, or bionic eye, comprises a miniature camera worn by the user on custom designed headgear.

This is linked to a processing computer – a bit bigger than a mobile phone – which transforms the images captured by the camera to patterns and dots like pixels.

Each of these dots stimulate a tiny 5mm computer chip containing 500,000 electrical transistors that has been surgically implanted in the brain via a wireless antenna worn on the back of the head.

“So it bypasses the eyes altogether,” explained Prof Rosenfeld.

“Anyone with glaucoma or who have lost their eyes through trauma are very suitable for our device because it’s going directly into the brain,” he said.

Prof Rosenfeld says much like the Cochlear ear implant, the brain would have to slowly adapt to the ‘artificial’ vision.

While it doesn’t promise complete restoration of vision, the professor is confident it will give some sight back to those who are completely blind.

“What we hope is that the person will be able to recognise shapes in front of them like a saucer and cup or a spoon, where the doorway is, whether people are moving or not; these are the sorts of things people should get out of it. They may also be able to read large print as well,” said Prof Rosenfeld.

The device has been in development for several years.


This article appeared on TVNZ on Wednesday 6th June 2018

Keratoconus Treatment Corneal Collagen Cross Linking to be supported by Medicare

Corneal Collagen Cross Linking (CCXL) for keratoconus will be added to the Medicare Benefits Scheme from 1 May 2018.

The lone awaited news has been welcomed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), including the RANZCO-affiliated Australian and New Zealand Cornea Society, who have been calling for this change for a number of years.

Access to rebate for CCXL through Medicare will make this important treatment available for people who were previously unable to access it due to cost and availability.

In Australia, people with keratoconus will often require corneal transplantation, which, while often necessary, is a complex and invasive procedure that requires donor corneas to be available and has a long recovery period. However, if these patients are able to undergo timely CCXL, which uses ultra violet (UV) light and drops to help slow the progression of the condition, it is likely that they can avoid corneal transplantation altogether.

“This is an important step that brings an innovative and effective treatment option to the many people living with the effects of keratoconus in Australia,” said Professor Gerard Sutton, Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Cornea Society. “From 1 May these people will have available to them a less invasive option that could mitigate the need for a full corneal transplant and that can either stop or slow down the progression of this visually impairing condition. This is a hugely positive and very welcome change.”

Keratoconus causes a person’s cornea to change shape over time, often resulting in blurry vision and impacting people’s ability to undertake every day tasks, in particular causing difficulty driving at night.

Bright lights can start to appear streaked, glare and halos can appear around lights and over time visual function can become progressively worse making it difficult to go about daily life.

“The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) endorses the federal government’s initiative in recognising the importance of crosslinking for the prevention of sight threatening disease, and in providing financial support for patients suffering from progressive keratoconus. We are delighted that this important innovation is being made more readily available for those that need it,” said RANZCO President, Associate Professor Mark Daniell.


mivision | 11 April 2018

Number of Aussies living with cataracts on the rise

An increasing number of Australians are living with cataracts, particularly women aged over 80, according to new data released by the Medibank Better Health Index.

More than 700,000 Australians were affected by cataracts in 2016-17, an increase of 139,000 compared with 2010-2011. The figures, released to coincide with International Women’s Day, also showed than 18.5% of women aged over 80 were affected by the condition, compared with 13.4% six years ago.

“It’s well known that the risk of developing cataracts increases as people get older, however this new data also suggests there’s been a slight rise in the number of Australians affected,” Medibank clinical director Dr Sue Abhary said.

The numbers also indicate women are more likely to have cataracts than men, with 4.4% of Australian women affected compared with 3.5% of Australian men.

According to The Fred Hollows Foundation, this gender imbalance is reflected worldwide, with women around 1.3x more likely to have a visual impairment than men. As a result, women comprise around 55% of the 36 million people who live with blindness globally.

“We know vision impairment and blindness have far-reaching implications, not just for the women affected, but also for their families and for progress towards many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Fred Hollows CEO Mr Ian Wishart said.

“To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as targets for Vision 2020, we must eliminate all forms of inequity in access to eyecare for women and girls.”

Vision 2020 Australia has committed to working with its members both locally and abroad to help provide women and girls with access to eyecare services, and CEO Ms Carla Northam said it should be a priority for all countries.

“Gender inequality in eye health is clearly a global issue, and we strongly support all of our members doing this work locally and globally,” Northam said.

“Addressing gender imbalances in eye health will go a long way towards reducing avoidable blindness around the world.”



Could vitamin B3 be the answer to treating glaucoma?

A humble vitamin B3 supplement could be the key to treating one of the biggest causes of irreversible vision loss in the world.

Researchers from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) in Melbourne are conducting a world-first human trial of an over-the-counter vitamin supplement to treat glaucoma, a disease of the optic nerve which affects 60 million people worldwide.

Professor Jonathan Crowston is the lead investigator of the study and Dr Flora Hui is the Research Fellow conducting the six-month clinical trial. They hope to prove that therapeutic use of high dosage vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) could be used to support existing therapies for glaucoma, such as daily eye drops or in severe cases, surgery.

“Imagine your car’s engine is running a bit rough and as a result, the car doesn’t drive smoothly. If you top up the engine with oil, the car runs better, even though you haven’t fixed the underlying problem,” explains Dr Hui.

“Our study hopes to confirm that vitamin B3 can protect nerve cells from dying, in a similar way that adding oil to a faulty car engine can still allow it to run more smoothly,” she concludes.

Professor Jonathan Crowston leads the Glaucoma Research and is Managing Director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia. “Glaucoma currently has no cure and vision loss is generally thought to be irreversible,” he said.

“We have recently discovered that in the early stages after an injury, visual function can in fact recover, but that the ability to recover diminishes with increasing age. We have developed clinical tests that now allow us to look for visual recovery in the clinic and are beginning to look at treatment that could boost recovery. Our premise is that if you can improve optic nerve recovery after an injury that we can reduce the risk of glaucoma progressing,” said Prof Crowston.

In 2017, a US research team led by Prof Simon W.M. John and Dr Pete Williams from the JAX laboratories in the USA, found that vitamin B3 given to glaucoma-prone mice prevented optic nerve degeneration and glaucoma. In fact, this treatment also reversed the negative effects of ageing in the mouse eye. “We were very excited by these findings and are now looking at the effect of vitamin B3 in glaucoma patients,” said Prof Crowston.

World Glaucoma Week is 11-17 March 2018

Recruitment for the vitamin B3 trial has reached capacity. To register your interest in future clinical trials with CERA, please register your details at Clinical Trial Registry Web Sight

This research was made possible by the generosity of the Jean Miller Foundation, the Jack Brockhoff Foundation, The Marian & E.H. Trust and the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia.

YAG Laser Vitreolysis

Treating Floaters with YAG Laser Vitreolysis

Many people suffer from vitreous floaters, while benign in nature they can become quite frustrating and troublesome. Eye floaters can be clumpy or stringy; light or dark – they are caused by clumps or specks of undissolved vitreous gel floating in the dissolved gel-like fluid (vitreous) in the back of the eye, which then casts a shadow on the retina when light enters the eye. Taking the concerns of patients seriously, and treating them with either YAG laser vitreolysis or floater only pars plana vitrectomy, can make a significant improvement to their everyday quality of sight.

Though not new, YAG laser vitreolysis has advance to a degree that allows the successful relief of symptoms from troublesome floaters in many patients. The inability to superimpose the illuminating light source of the laser with the path of the laser beam has been a problem. The goal of treatment is to disrupt floaters into smaller fragments rather than vaporize them. However, a new design to the YAG laser, developed by Ellex in Australia, has combated this issue by allowing superimposition of the viewing, lighting and treating axes. The YAG laser causes optical breakdown of vitreous opacities converting them to gas which leaves the eye via the retinal venous vasculature. If remnants of the posterior capsule following capsulotomy are hit by a YAG laser, they fragment rather than vaporize. This is seen with direct visualisation as a solid chunk of matter becoming a gas bubble and rising in the vitreous cavity.

How the Procedure is Performed:

The pupil needs to be maximally dilated. Topical anaesthesia is used to allow a contact lens to be placed on the eye but the procedure itself is painless. No sedation is necessary. Generally, it takes about 10-15 minutes. There are no known long term risks with the YAG laser vitreolysis, however it is possible to damage the crystalline lens (causing an instant cataract), hit the retina (causing a retinal burn) or cause a rise in intraocular pressure.

If you suffer from floaters, we encourage you to come in for an assessment and speak to one of our highly trained professionals to determine if you are suitable for the treatment.