The FDA has approved Afrezza Inhalation Powder (insulin human, MannKind Corporation) to improve glycemic control for adults with diabetes. The new treatment option is a rapid-acting inhaled insulin that is administered before each meal. A 24-week study evaluating the efficacy of the drug in a total of 3,017 patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes demonstrated its ability to reduce HbA1c. The drug is not a substitute for long-acting insulin and must be used in combination with one.

Researchers have determined that telemedicine screening for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is valid when conducted by trained nonphysicians. The study, published in the June 26 online edition of JAMA Ophthalmology, enrolled 1,257 premature infants weighing less than 1,251 grams (2lbs. 12oz.) and born at 27 weeks of gestational age on average. Trained nonphysicians took standard sets of six images in both eyes and graded them using a standard protocol. When compared to examinations conducted by ophthalmologists, the telemedicine readers correctly identified 90% of infants with referral-warranted ROP. Telemedicine could make treating ROP easier and increase the frequency of screening for the condition, which currently depends on the schedule of physicians, the study concludes.

Researchers have identified a way to enhance regrowth of human corneal tissue to restore vision, using a molecule known as ABCB5 that acts as a marker for hard-to-find limbal stem cells. The research, published online in Nature, is also one of the first successes in constructing a tissue from an adult-derived human stem cell. This breakthrough development—a collaboration among the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the VA Boston Healthcare System—offers promise to patients with ocular burn, chemical injury and damaging eye diseases, the researchers say.

Ksander BR, Kolovou PE, Wilson BJ, et al. ABCB5 is a limbal stem cell gene required for corneal development and repair. Nature. 2014 Jul 2. [Epub ahead of print]

Compared with sleeping in the supine position, sleeping in the 20-degree head-up position results in a lower IOP (an average reduction of 1.56mm Hg, or 9.33%, in glaucoma patients), and may prove to be an effective, inexpensive and noninvasive adjunct in IOP reduction for glaucoma care, according to a new study in the Journal of Glaucoma.
“If sleeping at a ... 20-degree angle could decrease the IOP by almost 10%, it may be of therapeutic benefit to recommend,” the authors conclude. Further research is needed to determine the optimal head position to provide the greatest decrease in IOP while maintaining patient comfort, and whether it alters the progression of disc damage and visual field deterioration over time.

Lazzaro EC, Mallick A, Singh M, et al. The effect of positional changes on intraocular pressure during sleep in patients with and without glaucoma. J Glaucoma. 2014 Jun-Jul;23(5):282-7.

Engineers at the University of Washington have designed a low-power sensor that can be permanently placed in a glaucoma patient’s eye to measure even the smallest changes in intraocular pressure. The sensor would be embedded within an intraocular lens implanted during cataract surgery and could detect changes instantly. These changes would then be transmitted wirelessly using radio frequency waves. The engineers have filed patents on an initial prototype, which they admit is “radical,” as no one has ever put electronics inside the lens of an eye—yet. The current prototype is too large to fit in an artificial lens, but the team says it’s confident that they can downscale it to a workable size.

Varel Ç, Shih Y, Otis BP, et al. A wireless intraocular pressure monitoring device with a solder-filled microchannel antenna. J Micromech Microeng. Published online March 13, 2014.