Tag Archive | "Bascom Palmer Eye Institute"

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First Study on Haitian-American Glaucoma Rates Stresses Need for Awareness and Screening to Prevent Vision Loss

Special to UM News


Richard K. Lee and Richard K. Parrish, II

MIAMI, FLA. (January 20,2015) —Physicians at the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and medical students at the Miller School of Medicine are the first to publish data on the prevalence of glaucoma in the Haitian-American population. Their findings, based on data from 750 participants, show that nearly 26 percent of Haitian-Americans have signs and symptoms for various stages of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, disproportionately affecting African Americans and Latinos living in the U.S. A disease characterized by slowly progressive optic nerve atrophy, glaucoma is typically a painless and silent blinding disease that can be easily screened for in a community setting and treated to prevent further vision loss and blindness.

Richard K. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of ophthalmology, cell biology and neuroscience,  and Richard K. Parrish, II, M.D., professor and Edward W.D. Norton Chair of Ophthalmology, led the study with medical student Christine Bokman and members of the Ophthalmology Interest Club. “Glaucoma Screening in the Haitian Afro-Caribbean Population of South Florida” is published in a recent issue of PLOS ONE.

Using data from community health screenings in Little Haiti, the team found that not only do older patients suffer from signs of the disease, but also younger patients less than 40 years old have disease warning signs such as high eye pressures and suspicious changes to the optic disc. Of the entire study population, 32 percent had eye pressures above normal (>22 mm Hg), which can ultimately cause severe damage to the eye and lead to blindness.

To improve ophthalmic care, several efforts were made during and after the study to provide counseling and follow-up for this population to help decrease disease progression. Participants were given referrals with their test results for follow-up with their primary care providers and recommended ophthalmologists within the community, regardless of insurance status.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend for or against screening for glaucoma, but Lee says these findings should start that shift. “Overall, this study highlights the need to create awareness of differential glaucoma risk within ethnic communities of the U.S. to prevent further eye disease and blindness,” said Lee. “This study along with previously published studies on the rates of glaucoma in specific populations stresses the need for targeted screening within communities and has implications for policy changes in the approach for ocular disease screening to prevent blindness.”

Louis Pasquale, M.D., from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard Medical School, was a collaborator in the data analysis. Project Medishare and the Bernard Mevs Hospital Eye Clinic, where Lee is volunteer medical director, will translate these findings to be more aggressive in screening for and treating glaucoma in the Haitian population in Port-Au-Prince. Read more about Lee and the Bernard Mevs Eye Clinic in the University’s Haiti Special Report.


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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Ranks No. 1 for the 11th Straight Year

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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Ranks No. 1 for the 11th Straight Year

Special to UM News


Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., professor and chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, says outstanding care is the foundation of the institute’s reputation.

MIAMI, Fla. (July 14,2014)—For the 11th consecutive year, the Miller School of Medicine’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has been ranked the nation’s best in ophthalmology by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer has received the No. 1 ranking a total of 13 times and has been in the top two since the annual rankings began 25 years ago.

“This ranking is a testament to the incomparable excellence and dedication found at every level at Bascom Palmer,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth. “To be named No. 1 is a great honor; to be named No. 1 year after year and without interruption can only happen when you have an unwavering commitment to groundbreaking research, education and world-class clinical care. As of this date, Bascom Palmer has been ranked No. 1 more times than all other U.S. eye centers put together. At the Miller School and the University of Miami, we are so proud of our Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.”

The Bascom Palmer team is recognized as an international leader in every subspecialty in ophthalmology. Faculty and staff have made notable contributions in the fields of macular degeneration, retinal surgery, glaucoma, infections and inflammations, corneal surgery, Lasik, cataract surgery, neuro-ophthalmology, plastic surgery, pediatrics and cancers.

“We are honored to be recognized as the leader in the life-changing and dynamic field of ophthalmology. It is our privilege to deliver exceptional patient care, cutting-edge research and the finest medical education possible,” said Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., professor and Chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “The outstanding care that is delivered to each Bascom Palmer patient is the foundation for our reputation. The well-being of our patients inspires us to continually reach higher and excel in areas of clinical care, vision research and surgical innovation.”

Bascom Palmer’s physician-scientists lead research teams that are currently involved in new clinical trials using gene therapy, retinal chips, genomics and stem cell therapy. Additional research is being conducted on genetic mapping of cancers to better target treatment. The molecular basis of degenerative diseases of the retina being investigated in the laboratory will lead to new clinical treatments. In addition, surgical treatment of diseases such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma continues to be improved in the clinical setting.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute/Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital was also ranked the overall No. 1 hospital in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.

Three other specialties of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital were recognized as high-performing byU.S. News & World Report: nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, and urology. In addition, UM/Jackson was ranked among the top 10 hospitals in the Miami Metro area.

Two specialties at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/University of Miami Hospital and Clinics — cancer, and ear, nose and throat — were recognized as high-performing by U.S. News & World Report, and the facility was ranked among the top 25 hospitals in Florida.

This spring U.S. News & World Report named Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center one of the country’s best children’s hospitals. The rankings feature the top 50 hospitals in each of the 10 pediatric specialties.

Holtz was ranked in seven specialties this year: 20th in diabetes and endocrinology, 25th in gastroenterology and GI surgery, 33rd in nephrology, 44th in cardiology and heart surgery, 45th in urology, 47th in pulmonology and 48th in neonatology.

The complete 2014-15 Best Hospitals rankings are accessible online at http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals and will be in bookstores and on newsstands in August.

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Richard K. Parrish II Receives Florida Society of Ophthalmology’s Leadership Award

Richard K. Parrish II

Richard K. Parrish II

MIAMI, Fla. (June 25, 2014) — The Miller School of Medicine’s Richard K. Parrish II has received the John R. Brayton, Jr., M.D., Leadership Award from the Florida Society of Ophthalmology (FSO), the state’s preeminent professional association for physicians who specialize in vision care.

The award, presented at the FSO’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., recognizes a Florida-based ophthalmologist who exemplifies leadership and dedication to the profession.

Parrish joined the medical school faculty as assistant professor in 1982, was promoted to professor in 1994, and served as residency program director from 1995 through 1999. From 1996 through 1999, he was chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology. He currently serves as associate dean for graduate medical education for the Miller School, chairman of the Graduate Medical Education Committee, and  the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s (ACGME) Designated Institutional Official for Jackson Memorial Hospital. He has a principal interest in glaucoma surgical care and was project chairman of the National Eye Institute Fluorouracil Filtering Surgery Trial. He is a vice-chairman of the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study (OHTS) and principal investigator of the OHTS Optic Disc Reading Center.

Parrish earned his undergraduate degree from Indiana University and his medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine. He completed his internship at the University of Alabama and his residency in ophthalmology at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, where he also served as chief resident. He completed a clinical fellowship in glaucoma and a research fellowship in glaucoma at Bascom Palmer.

Parrish has been involved with the American Ophthalmological Society since 1996 and was a member of FSO’s Board of Directors from 1996 to 1999. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Ophthalmology and as the executive editor of the Glaucoma Section of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

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Bascom Palmer Physician Makes Mother’s Dying Dream Come True

Bascom Palmer's Guillermo Amescua, left,  examines the eye of Juan Aguirre.

Bascom Palmer’s Guillermo Amescua, left, examines the eye of Juan Aguirre.

Back in 1979, Miriam Aguirre Santos was walking with her 5-year-old son Juan and his younger sister in their hometown of Holguin de Oriente in Cuba. Suddenly, a motorcycle driver swerved, striking Juan in the head and leaving him with a scar on the cornea of his left eye.

Soon after, the Santos family moved to the U.S., and Juan grew up to be a successful musician, husband, and father despite the poor vision in his damaged eye. Through the decades, his mother—a strong believer in organ donation—dreamed of giving one of her corneas to her son, and wrote down her wish in a personal journal. After she died of a heart attack September 30 on Miami Beach, a dedicated team of professionals from the Florida Lions Eye Bank and the Miller School’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute combined their expertise to make her dream come true.

On October 8, Guillermo Amescua, M.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer, performed the first mother-son corneal transplant in South Florida history. After a recent checkup, Juan Aguirre, 39, said his vision is already improving. “I can see much more clearly without the constant gloomy haze,” he said. “Now, when I pick up my guitar or the piano I can finally see what my left hand is doing without turning my head. It’s just a wonderful experience.”

A professional musician, Aguirre lives in rural White Post, Virginia, with his wife, Cozette, and their two children, Sofia and Lucien. He has recorded six albums in various musical genres under the name Diablo Dimes, and will appear at Art Basel Miami Beach and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

Both he and his sister Janette were surprised when the Florida Lions Eye Bank informed them of their mother’s wish to donate her cornea. Since corneas must be transplanted within just a few days of the donor’s death, it takes a rare combination of circumstances for a family transplant to take place, according to Elizabeth Fout-Caraza, executive director of the Florida Lions Eye Bank, which has been located at Bascom Palmer since both institutions were founded in the early 1960s.

“Because corneal tissues can’t be frozen, a transplant must be done in seven to 10 days,” said Fout-Caraza. “Fortunately, Aguirre Santos was a registered donor, which made it much easier for her family members to help get the process started.”

When an ophthalmologist couldn’t be found near Aguirre’s home in Virginia, he flew to Miami for an evaluation by Amescua, who returned from a volunteer eye surgery mission trip to Costa Rica to meet with the musician.

“While corneal transplant surgery has been done successfully for decades, not every patient is a candidate,” said Amescua. “Fortunately, Juan turned out to be a suitable recipient, and his mother’s cornea was in excellent condition, so we went ahead with the surgery the next day.”

In addition to enjoying his improved vision, Aguirre is hoping that more South Floridians—especially Hispanics—follow his mother’s example and become organ donors. “I’ve been a donor for many years,” he said. “It’s a way for me to help others after I’m gone.”

Each year, the Florida Lions Eye Bank facilitates about 700 corneal transplants from organ donors, according to Fout-Caraza. In fact, Aguirre Santos’ second cornea was transplanted in a Miami woman, helping to restore her vision, while her donated liver was transplanted in a woman in Boca Raton.

“Organ donors save lives,” she said. “You can enroll in the Florida Donor Registry by going online to www.donatelifeflorida.org.

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Discovery Leads to Simple Blood or Urine Test to Identify Blinding Disease

Byron Lam and Rong Wen, professors of ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer, discovered a key marker in blood and urine that can identify people who carry genetic mutations in a gene responsible for retinitis pigmentosa.

Byron Lam and Rong Wen, professors of ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer, discovered a key marker in blood and urine that can identify people who carry genetic mutations in a gene responsible for retinitis pigmentosa.

Research led by physician-scientists at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has produced a breakthrough discovery in diagnosing retinitis pigmentosa, a blinding disease that affects about 1 in 4,000 people in the United States. Read the full story

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