The Eye Cancer Working Day: Our Next Step

 

The Working Day initiative, dedicated to improving the eye cancer field through international cooperation between oncologists, lives on with another successful dinner meeting at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2017. Through various oral and poster presentations, The New York Eye Cancer Center and The Eye Cancer Foundation was actively represented through the Working Day Dinner at AAO 2017 on November 9th at the famous Arnaud’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. The dinner, hosted by the ECF, saw continued collaborative efforts of the projects presented at the Working Day meeting on March 2017 in Australia. Here are the ophthalmologists who discussed these tasks at the dinner meeting:

Dr. Brenda Gallie, who specializes in the research and treatment of retinoblastoma, discussed “Big Data registries” that collect both prospective and retrospective information for retinoblastoma, conjunctival melanoma, intraocular lymphoma and radiation side effects.

Dr. Sonal Chaugule, a recent fellow who trained under Dr. Paul Finger at the New York Eye Cancer Center, discussed the open access, eye cancer surgical textbook and video-atlas that will soon become available to the public.

Dr. Bertil Damato discussed doctors outcomes reporting through the Iris Registry.

Dr. Paul Finger remarked on The Eye Cancer Foundation’s ongoing work with the International Council of Ophthalmology in helping train eye cancer specialists to work in unserved and underserved countries. He invited all who are willing to participate in this fellowship program to contact the speakers directly, thereby extending the efforts of the 2020 Campaign, which is close to reaching its goal of training 20 eye cancer specialists in these unserved countries by the year 2020.

To stay updated on the continued, exciting efforts of all Working Day participants, please keep our website in your bookmarks!


The Global Effort

 

The Eye Cancer Foundation 2020 Campaign continues to make tremendous strides in the advancement of eye cancer care through the exciting completion of Dr. Milly Shakoor’s 6-month fellowship in retinoblastoma training. This news arrives unitedly with the announcement of another ECF Fellow’s completed training, Dr. Veronica Molleda, from Bolivia. With every fellowship thus offered and completed, The Eye Cancer Foundation and its supporters come closer to fully realizing the goal of training 20 specialists in 20 countries to treat childhood eye cancer.

Eye Cancer Foundation fellowships offer doctors to be trained in the specialized treatment of retinoblastoma, training that they cannot otherwise receive in their home country. These ECF fellowships, partnered with the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), are available to candidates from unserved or underserved countries. After doctors complete their six months of training, they agree to return to their home country to start or participate in eye cancer treatment for the unserved.

But what is retinoblastoma? Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer in children and affects approximately 8,200 children each year. In developed countries like the United Sates,  the survival rate reaches beyond an astounding 96%, with early diagnosis and treatment being key to saving patients’ lives and sight. However, the incidence rate is higher in developing countries, where most of the children succumb to metastatic retinoblastoma. In areas where children and families have no means of traveling to treatment centers far away from them, these afflicted children often endure their untreated disease untreated, which eventually leads to death. Because no child or family should have to suffer these losses, especially due to inability to simply reach a treatment center, the ECF has launched the 2020 Campaign.

Dr. Milly Shakoor comes from Dhaka, the capital of the highly densely-populated country of Bangladesh, where availability of retinoblastoma care is certainly low. She trained at The Centre for Sight in Hyderabad, India with the renown Director of Medical Services, Dr. Santosh G. Honavar (pictured above), who specializes both in oculoplasty and ocular oncology. Since her return to Dhaka, she has been met with several retinoblastoma cases and continues her treatment of them.

As always, The Eye Cancer Foundation these fellowships could not have been completed without the support of readers and donors — and so, the ECF thanks you for helping to provide hope for eye cancer patients around the world. To our audiences, we hope that you will continue to support these projects through your continued readership, word of mouth, and well wishes!


ECF Fellow Brings Hope to Bolivia

 

It is with the deepest pride that The Eye Cancer Foundation announces the successful completion of Dr. Veronica Molleda’s first 3-month fellowship in retinoblastoma care at the Hospital Infantil de Mexico. Under the tutelage of Dr. Marco Ramirez (pictured right), Head of Ophthalmological Services at the Hospital Infantil and the support of the ECF, Dr. Molleda is now well-equipped with valuable training that will aid eye cancer patients in her native home of Bolivia.

In 2016, The ECF launched the 2020 Campaign with the goal of training 20 Specialists in 20 countries to treat childhood eye cancer. In partnership with the International Council of Ophthalmology, ECF fellowships are available to candidates from unserved or underserved countries. Once the doctors complete their six months of training, they agree to return to their home country to start or participate in eye cancer treatment for the unserved. Dr. Molleda was offered this fellowship by the ECF, which supported her research and stay in Mexico before her return to Bolivia.

Eye Cancer Foundation fellowships offer doctors specialized training in the treatment of retinoblastoma they cannot otherwise receive in their home country. Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer in children and affects approximately 8,200 children each year. The incidence rate is somewhat higher in developing countries, where most of the children eventually succumb to metastatic retinoblastoma. In contrast, there exists a better than 96% survival rate in developed countries like the USA. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to saving retinoblastoma patients’ lives and their sight.

During her rotation in Mexico, Dr. Molleda accomplished a great deal of activities. She engaged in bi-weekly meetings with fellow residents to discuss the most recent and relevant issues on retinoblastoma treatment and how to tackle them, as well as presenting difficult cases in retinoblastoma with several oncologists and radiotherapy specialists. She has learned critical information on retinoblastoma, from clinical and differential diagnosis, to Rb genetics. She has developed skills in RetCam operation for outpatient clinics as well as B-scan eye ultrasound for patients with suspicious intraocular tumors. In addition to this, she’s learned critical surgical skills with indirect ophthalmoscope lasers and enucleation with orbital implants. 

“Dr. Molleda will give a superb ophthalmological service to Bolivian patients with retinoblastoma,” says her mentor, Dr. Marco Ramirez, who looks forward to receiving her for another three-months rotation later this year.

The Eye Cancer Foundation humbly thanks its supporters and donors, without whom these fellowships could not have been completed. Every new fellowship awarded and completed provides hope for children whose lives and visions are at risk simply due to their inability to access proper medical care. Your support has always and will continue to make tremendous strides in the field of eye cancer.

 

For more information on The Eye Cancer Foundation Fellowships, including how to apply, click HERE.

 


Oblique (Angled) Injection Technique Improves the Delivery of Avastin Treatment

Intravitreal (IVT) injections are the most common surgical procedure in ophthalmology practice today. In fact, it is projected that millions of these injections are given each year in the United States. Ocular oncologists use intravitreal injections to treat such conditions as cystoid macular edema (CME), radiation retinopathy, and neovascularization. But did you know that the technique of delivering the injection can influence the effectiveness and safety of treatment?

Following IVT injection, some medication can actually egress or leave the eye through the port of entry, thus delivering less medication than what the physician intended. This can lead to under-treatment of the disease. The perfect IVT injection delivers an exact amount of medication with the least risk to vision and the eye.

Mehta and Finger used a technique of oblique (or angled) IVT injection in an effort to minimize the amount of medication leaving the eye. IVT injection was delivered at a 30-45 degree angle and compared to the standard technique of using a perpendicular (orthogonal) angle.

The researchers found that the angled IVT injection technique had a significantly higher mean intraocular pressure immediately after the injection. This finding suggests that angled injections are self-sealing and more of the drug is staying in the eye. Thus, the angled technique delivers a more accurate dose as well as prevents intraocular infection by closing a potential entry for pathogens.

The Figure below shows how the angled technique may allow for better retention of the drug within the eye following injection:

Through PubMed, you are able to read the published scientific article that explains this in detail here. To stay tuned on all the latest in eye cancer research, please keep our website, eyecancer.com, in your bookmarks!


Fighting for Hope: One Retinoblastoma World 2017

“The One Retinoblastoma World mission is to ensure that every caregiver has access to appropriate knowledge, skills, resources and collaborative opportunity to enable high quality evidence based care for each affected child, survivor and family.”

Every day, new strides are being made towards developing the field of eye cancer. Whether through published papers, international gatherings for ophthalmologists, or patient support group therapy, efficient communication remains a crucial contributor to progress. It was precisely the communication — in fact — between eye cancer patients and ocular oncologists that spearheaded The One Retinoblastoma World Conference that was held October 9-11, 2017 in Washington DC.

At this meeting, families, survivors, and doctors came together to inspire, share, educate, and learn concerning all matters of childhood retinoblastoma. But what, you may be wondering, is childhood retinoblastoma anyway? When born and throughout early stages of life, in areas like the United States where proper medical care is available, children are routinely screened for a childhood eye cancer called retinoblastoma. If diagnosed early, this disease is curable. However, as many as 7,000 children die each year due to improper diagnoses or in-access to proper medical care. No child should die, or suffer avoidable blindness because of that. One Retinoblastoma World is dedicated to breaking down the obstacles that prevent proper treatment for these children.

Ten questions asked by parents and survivors served as a basis for the meeting’s evolution. Because doctors and patients can sometimes be separated by the scope of complicated medical language, these questions better familiarized researchers with the common concerns of patients.

Here were some of the questions:

  • Can we screen for retinoblastoma, and if not, what are the best ways to improve early diagnosis?
  • What do my / my child’s genetics results mean for risk and screening, -current treatment, EUAs after treatment, and for adult life? What do we do if we can’t access genetic testing?
  • How do doctors know when trying to save an eye is dangerous, and removing it is the only option? How do we best care for the socket throughout life?
  • How do doctors and parents make the decision about adjuvant chemotherapy?
  • What is the status of Rb in developing countries? I’ve been contacted by a family in a developing country whose child has Rb. What can I do to help them?
  • What recommendations do you have for long term follow up care and screening in RB1 mutation carriers and children treated with chemotherapy / radiotherapy? How can you help us educate our primary doctors so they take us seriously, and what can we do if we have no access to a survivor / follow-up program?

Each of these questions were answered in a specific panel addressed by researchers, doctors, and clinicians to families and survivors. This proved greatly beneficial to those in attendance. But the collaborative effort did not stop there! The education these sessions provided were not restricted to those able to physically attend. Indeed, the meeting was live streamed to achieve global access for all. As the DC team explains:

“We wanted to make One Rb World 2017 truly a global event. We wanted parents, survivors and medical professionals to join us from across the USA and around the world, even if they couldn’t travel to Washington DC. Live stream viewers were able to interact with speakers and participate in discussions by sending written comments and questions via the live stream system. Their comments were received and shared by several dedicated volunteers in the conference room.”

The DC team is currently working with an editor to publish the livestream for future public viewing. Stay tuned to our blog posts to keep updated on when that will be! Additional information concerning One Rb World 2017 can be found here, including a full list of their program and the subjects of each panel.

One Retinoblastoma World 2017 marks a great advancement in the fight to defeat retinoblastoma. Through the efforts of specialists and advocates combined can we hope to ensure that all children have access to high quality care. We urge you to join us in the fight; have your voice be heard, and be a part of the cure.

To stay updated on all the latest in eye cancer research, please keep our website in your bookmarks!


Visionary Newsletter — Fall 2017

The Fall 2017 issue of The Visionary is now available!

The Eye Cancer Foundation publishes The Visionary free-of-charge to keep you informed about the latest news, research, and global efforts focused on improving eye cancer treatment, diagnosis, and cure.

In this edition, you will find articles about:

  • Details regarding the highly anticipated Second Eye Cancer Working Day and its success
  • A study by ECF fellow Dr. Bikramjit Pal on chemotherapy side effects for eye cancer patients
  • And more!

Click here to read The Visionary now!

Read back issues of The Visionary here.

The Eye Cancer Foundation can send The Visionary directly to your inbox. If you’d like to receive a personal email notification when new editions of The Visionary are released, please click here and fill out your contact information in order to subscribe. Your information will not be shared with third parties.


The NYECC Support Group’s Next Meeting! Attend In-Person or via Phone!

After two successful meetings where eye cancer patients and survivors shared their feelings in a welcoming, comfortable environment, The New York Eye Cancer Center Support Group, sponsored by The Eye Cancer Foundation, will meet for a third time on November 17, 2017 at 1:30 PM, Eastern Standard Time. This meeting, like its previous ones, will be held at The New York Eye Cancer Center’s conference room located at 115 East 61st Street, New York City, 100065.

Are you halfway across the country? In Texas, California? Are you unable to make it due to working hours, or even that dreaded New York City traffic? Because many potential visitors have expressed their desire to attend but are unable to make it due to any travel inconveniences, we would gladly like to inform anyone that these meetings may be attended via phone call! Regardless of where you are located, the NYECC Support Group wants your voice to be heard! Simply call Karen Campbell, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who helps facilitate these meetings, and mention that you would like to attend via phone.

You can find Karen’s biography below:

“I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and have been practicing in the field for 24 years. In addition to my private psychotherapy practice, most recently, I was in the Director of Vision Rehabilitation Services at the Lighthouse Guild. I started up the Social Work Department at Lighthouse International in 2010 and, as part of that, developed and faciliated the Department’s Support Group program. I also have a background in medical social work, including oncology, having worked at NYU/Langone. I have found support groups to be a valuable way for people to manage their medical challenges and address issues such as family adjustment, depression, anxiety and loss. Although I work primarily with individuals and couples in my private practice, I really enjoy working with groups!”

As we’ve mentioned previously in our regular updates regarding this support group, stress and anxiety are normal experiences for anyone enduring an eye cancer diagnosis. And although it is normal, there are ways to combat these feelings by having a solid support system. For some, these support systems are crucial in order to find one’s bearings and coming to terms with “a new normal”, both of which are important in overall quality of life.

 

Please consider downloading our flyer for November’s meeting here. We hope to meet you there! And to stay updated on all upcoming sessions, please keep our website, eyecancer.com in your bookmarks!


The NYECC Support Group Therapy: A Recap!

The New York Eye Cancer Center Support Group, sponsored by the Eye Cancer Foundation, met for the second time on October 13, 2017. Members in attendance were in varying stages of their treatment and recovery, ranging from a few months to over a decade! Karen Campbell, a licensed clinical social worker with years of experience in oncology and vision loss, led the group in their discussion.

Group members shared the struggles of living with cancer and what their “new normal” is like, such as the need for ongoing scans and check-ups. Anxiety and depression around loss of control, feelings of isolation, and worries about the future were common themes, as was the need for ongoing support. Techniques for coping with these experiences and stressors were discussed and Karen lead the group in a guided imagery relaxation exercise that members found helpful.

Dr. Finger’s associate, Dr. Olszewski, was also in attendance and said, “Mental health is such an important part of overall well-being and quality of life, especially after a life changing diagnosis, such as ocular melanoma. We saw the perfect opportunity to introduce holistic care to the practice by starting this support group. Thanks to the support of the Eye Cancer Foundation, we are working hard to provide monthly group meetings for patients with this diagnosis. Karen Campbell is a natural fit for steering the meeting, given her experience in dealing with patients with both cancer and vision loss.

It was my pleasure to attend our second group session. Although I do not have a personal history ocular melanoma, I shared my experiences as a provider in this practice. I also have family members with cancer diagnoses and shared my feelings and point of view as a member of their support systems. I found Karen’s guided breathing exercises particularly enlightening; I felt an immediate wave of calm wash over me as she spoke, which stayed with me, even after I left the meeting. I truly believe that many of our patients would benefit from attending these group sessions.”

Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement regarding the date, time, and place of the next NYECC Support Group session.


The Eye Cancer Foundation Annual Appeal

 

As the year draws to close, as we round out the end of 2017 with holidays celebrating unity, generosity and love, now comes the time for reflection. The year 2017 marked great, landscaping efforts in the field of eye cancer research and training from The Eye Cancer Foundation, culminating perhaps most fantastically with the profound success of The Second Eye Cancer Working Day held in Sydney, Australia, among many other exciting projects. The achievements of this year have served as poignant reminders that hard work and focused philanthropy can support great progress. These accomplishments, shared throughout the buzzing Eye Cancer Foundation’s website, could not be completed without the generous help of donors. For this, the volunteers at The Eye Foundation are extremely grateful.

Your support enables The ECF team to provide much needed fellowship opportunities for new eye cancer specialists from previously unserved countries. As you may know, 7,000 babies with retinoblastoma die each year in the less developed world. The ECF has made a priority of training eye cancer specialists for these countries and will need to support them upon their return. The 2020 initiative, which aims to train 20 retinoblastoma doctors in 20 underserved countries, has already provided fellowship education for 12 deserving ophthalmologists. The ECF’s partnership with The International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) enables this, ensuring the quality of training these fellows receive. It is through your support that these fellowships were established with success, and because of this, children who were born to less fortunate circumstances have a chance at vision and life.

The ECF is especially excited to have sponsored The Second Eye Cancer Working Day, an event bringing together eye cancer specialists from around the world, which embodied much of what The Foundation is all about. In the Working Day, there were sections on developing big data registries used to answer questions that could not be addressed by single center studies. There were initiatives for standards in fellowship education, Dr. Tero Kivelä presented an initiative to promote doctors reporting their clinical outcomes. In addition, The ECF’s open access surgical text and movie atlas was highlighted, and will become public within the next sixth months.

Your gift today demonstrates your dedication to supporting an exciting, functional, and deeply important effort to promote multi-center and international cooperation in ophthalmic oncology. Your gift today will save both vision and lives all over the world. With so much to look forward to, The ECF team hopes they can count on your support.

Please consider making your gift to The Eye Cancer Foundation today, and be a crucial part in this fight against eye cancer. Donate by visiting The Eye Cancer Foundation website, eyecancercure.com, or simply click here.


Eye Injections 101

An intraocular injection (i.e., an injection made directly into the eye) may sound intimidating, uncommon, and dangerous. But did you know that intraocular injections are one of the most common surgical procedures practiced today in the United States? These injections are used mostly to treat macular degeneration, a deterioration of the sensitive, central portion of the retina (the macula) that makes it the leading cause of vision loss in Americans, more than cataracts and glaucoma combined (American Macular Degeneration Foundation). In 2005, Dr. Paul T. Finger discovered that these intraocular injections can be used towards another effect: in the vision-sparing treatment of radiation retinopathy.

Radiation retinopathy, or neuropathy, occurs as a side effect of the radiation used to treat orbital tumors or melanoma. When radiated, the retina and optic nerve may be progressively damaged over time, which can lead to permanent loss of vision if left untreated. Thus, intraocular injections of ANTI-VEGF therapy, such as Avastin or Eyelea, can help to suppress this retina and optic nerve damage caused by radiation treatment.

At The New York Eye Cancer Center, we aim to provide you with the best possible information regarding intraocular injections to ease any misgivings. We are constantly monitoring our patients who have undergone treatment to watch for signs of radiation retinopathy, and if injections of ANTI-VEGF therapy are required. For these patients, we have published a video that provides all necessary information regarding their expected injections, and what they can expect before, during, and after therapy. We stress, particularly, that treating radiation retinopathy is similar to the concept of treating hypertension (high blood pressure) or diabetes; the drugs administered will diminish the damage for these long-term medical conditions.

You can watch this video below at your convenience:

Eye Injection: Intraocular Injection at The New York Eye Cancer Center from Paul T Finger on Vimeo.

We have more upcoming videos available for public viewing at The New York Eye Cancer, so kindly consider keeping eyecancer.com in your bookmarks to stay tuned for them!


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