Florida high school students to present May 4 at national eye care research conference
Fort Myers High School IB program students Ariana and Mia Allen have been working with Dr. Alexander Eaton, director of Retina Health Center, on a new eye drop imaging system that is designed to help increase eye drop compliance. Involved in the initial concept and study to evaluate eye drop use as well as the development of the imaging device, the students were selected to present the results of their work at The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting on Monday, May 4 in Denver, where Ariana’s presentation has been selected as a “hot topic,” one of the most important talks in the meeting.
Ariana’s abstract was selected by the Annual Meeting Program Committee as a “Hot Topic,” representing the newest and most innovative research being conducted in various specialties. This distinction is awarded to less than six percent of all 2015 Annual Meeting abstracts.
“Most of the talks are by physicians, PhDs, and PhD and medical students so it is a huge honor for these high school students to be selected,” said Dr. Eaton. “Their work shows the potential for students to work side-by-side with health care professionals to understand health care delivery challenges, such as medication management and in this case, eye drop delivery, so that better solutions and management options can be developed.”
The presentation by Miss Allen is focused on the use of eye drops, commonly used after cataract surgery to reduce the risk of infection and inflammation. It is well known that compliance is a problem with medication use by patients. Eye drops pose an additional challenge, because even when patients think they are using them properly, the drops may not be getting into their eye. Numerous studies have shown that patients often misreport the accuracy of their drop administration and only 1 in 10 people can correctly apply their drops. Thus, if a patient returns and does not show improvement from drop use, how is a physician to know if the eye drops are not working or if the medication is not getting to the eye due to bad technique by the patient?
The Retina Health Center team tested a novel video imaging device to objectively determine at-home drop applications by post-cataract surgery patients and found significant differences between perceived and actual compliance, and between the prescribed regimen and the actual successful administration of eye drops.
“The study highlights the importance of collecting accurate data of eye drop applications from an objective source. Furthermore, the data can be utilized to help better understand and positively affect clinical outcomes,” said Dr. Eaton.
Retina Health Center and the Macular Degeneration Research Center were established in 2002 by Dr. Alexander M. Eaton, a long-time Southwest Florida resident, who has been practicing ophthalmology in Lee and Collier counties for more than 20 years. Dr. Eaton has been the principal investigator for numerous studies to prevent and treat macular degeneration, and has invented numerous medical devices for use by patients and physicians that are used worldwide. For more information on the latest studies or to make an appointment, call 239-337-3337 in Fort Myers or 239-793-5200 in Naples.