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Marianas Eye Institute Makes News for Discovery of Eye Disease Gene

We’re pleased to have news of our discovery published in the Marianas Variety.  Here is the full story below.


Local Eye Clinic Discovers Gene for Saipan Eye Disease

The doctors at Marianas Eye Institute, in collaboration with U.S. researches, have discovered a new gene that is the cause of an eye disease that affects families on Saipan.


The results of their research was recently published in the scientific journal, Molecular Vision. The article by the team that made the discovery is titled, “Novel TMEM98 mutations in pedigrees with autosomal dominant nanophthalmos.”


Dr. David Khorram, the co-founder and prior ophthalmologist at Marianas Eye Institute, initiated the research over 20 years ago, when he noticed an eye disease affecting members of the same Saipan families. “It made sense that there would be a genetic basis for the disease because so many people in the family were affected,” explained Dr. Khorram, “So, with the permission of the family members, we collected blood samples and sent them to the premier genetic eye research center in the U.S.”

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Saipan Eye Clinic Makes Discovery

The doctors at Marianas Eye Institute, in collaboration with researches in the US, have discovered a new gene that is the cause of an eye disease that affects families on Saipan. The results of our research was recently published in the scientific journal, Molecular Vision. The article  is titled, Novel TMEM98 mutations in pedigrees with autosomal dominant nanophthalmos.”  It is not the most exciting reading, but the discovery of the gene sets the stage for development of gene therapy that can lead to a cure.  We’re proud to be a part of this new discovery.

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Macular Degeneration in Saipan

This isn’t a bad photo.  It’s what the world can look like if you have Macular Degeneration.  Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness among older people, but new treatments have dramatically changed the course of this disease over the last 10 years, making AMD more manageable than ever before. AMD is not common in Saipan, but when it strikes, it can be devastating.  Our Saipan eye clinic is experienced in treating AMD, and if your vision is getting blurry, or distorted, it could be a sign of AMD.  Come to Marianas Eye Institute immediately to see our Saipan optometrist or ophthalmologist.  The sooner we catch the problems, the better the chances of keeping your vision.

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Can Computers Hurt Your Eyes?

Staring at your computer screen, smartphone, video game or other digital devices for long periods won’t cause permanent eye damage, but your eyes may feel dry and tired. Some people also experience headaches or motion sickness when viewing 3-D, which may indicate that the viewer has a problem with focusing or depth perception.

What causes computer-use eyestrain?

  • Normally, humans blink about 18 times a minute, but studies show we blink half that often while using computers and other digital screen devices, whether for work or play.
  • Extended reading, writing or other intensive “near work” can also cause eyestrain.

What to do:

  • Sit about 25 inches from the computer screen and position the screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward.
  • Reduce glare from the screen by lighting the area properly; use a screen filter if needed.
  • Post a note that says “Blink!” on the computer as a reminder.
  • Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds: the “20-20-20” rule.
  • Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
  • Take regular breaks from computer work, and try to get enough sleep at night.
  • If problems continue, it could be something more serious. Come to Marianas Eye Institute to  see our Saipan optometrist, Dr. Mark Robertson, who can help you.

(Information from the American Academy of Ophthalmology)

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Smoking and Eye Health

Avoiding smoking and second hand smoke—or quitting if you are a smoker—are some of the best investments you can make in your long-term eye health.

Smoking – even in your teens or twenties when your senior years seem far away – increases your future risks for cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). And the more a person smokes, the higher the risks. The good news is that after people quit smoking, their risks for these eye diseases becomes almost as low as for people who never smoked.

Smoking also raises the risks for cardiovascular diseases that indirectly influence your eyes’ health. And tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, is an irritant that worsens dry eye, a very uncomfortable eye condition that is most common in women after menopause.

Smoking increases the risk of serious vision loss in people with other eye diseases. And when women smoke during pregnancy they are more likely to give birth prematurely, putting their babies at higher risk for a potentially blinding disease called retinopathy of prematurity as well as other health problems.

The American Cancer Society has resources to help people who want to quit:

(From the American Academy of Ophthalmology)

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Eye Injury Facts & Myths

  • Men are more likely to sustain an eye injury than women.
  • Most people believe that eye injuries are most common on the job — especially in the course of work at factories and construction sites. But, in fact, nearly half (44.7 percent) of all eye injuries occurred in the home, as reported during the fifth-annual Eye Injury Snapshot (conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma).
  • More than 40 percent of eye injuries reported in the Eye Injury Snapshot were caused by projects and activities such as home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking. More than a third (34.2 percent) of injuries in the home occurred in living areas such as the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living or family room.
  • More than 40 percent of eye injuries every year are related to sports or recreational activities.
  • Eyes can be damaged by sun exposure, not just chemicals, dust or objects.
  • Among all eye injuries reported in the Eye Injury Snapshot, more than 78 percent of people were not wearing eyewear at the time of injury. Of those reported to be wearing eyewear of some sort at the time of injury (including glasses or contact lenses), only 5.3 percent were wearing safety or sports glasses. (From the American Academy of Ophthalmology)

The key to preventing eye injuries is to wear eye protection (safety glasses).  If you have an eye injury, come in immediately.

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