Topical drops containing nerve growth factor (NGF) may protect the optic nerve and even improve vision, according to a study by investigators in Italy, published in the August 3 online issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. NGF exerted neuroprotective effects, inhibiting apoptosis of [retinal ganglion cells] in animals with glaucoma. [Human] patients treated with NGF demonstrated long lasting improvements in visual field, optic nerve function, contrast sensitivity, and visual acuity, the authors concluded. These results may open therapeutic perspectives for glaucoma and other neurodegenerative diseases.


Optometry mourns the loss of former president of the American Optometric Association J. Pat Cummings, O.D. He was currently vice president, professional development group, Americas region, for Vistakon. Dr. Cummings, 56, died on July 11 when a private plane in which he was a passenger crashed in St. John's County, Fla., killing the pilot as well. Dr. Cummings served as the AOA's 81st president from 2002 to 2003.

Alcon has entered into a five-year collaborative research agreement with AstraZeneca for the exclusive ophthalmic discovery and potential development rights to AstraZeneca's compound library. The two companies are targeting development of drugs to treat glaucoma, wet and dry age-related macular degeneration and other retinal diseases, as well as ocular allergy, dry eye and other inflammatory eye conditions.