Ophthalmologist Dr. Jayne S. Weiss shares the importance of state-of-the-art treatment to improve vision.
Dr. Weiss, who chairs the department of ophthalmology at LSU Health Sciences Center, is also a member and incoming chair of the FDA Ophthalmic Devices Panel, which reviews many new ophthalmic innovations before they become available to the public. In addition, she was one of 12 physicians nationwide invited to serve on the National Advisory Eye Council in 2012.
“There have been huge changes over the decades in treatments and technology that prevent vision loss, as well as improve vision with and without glasses,” Dr. Weiss says, citing several quick, in-office procedures that formerly involved surgery and days of recovery time. “One of people’s greatest fears is loss of vision, and the ability to restore or maintain someone’s vision is very rewarding.”
Dr. Weiss says that staying active in research helps her provide state-of-the-art treatment to her own patients. She has been an international leader in the field of corneal dystrophies — inherited diseases affecting the front of the eye, whose progression often leads to visual loss and the need for corneal surgery.
Dr. Weiss’ interest in one disease, Schnyder corneal dystrophy, led her to discover the disease’s genetic cause, which she hopes will lead to discovering its cure. She currently leads the International Committee for Classification of Corneal Dystrophies, a group of corneal dystrophy experts from around the world whose publication on corneal dystrophies is used to help diagnose these rare conditions.
With some hereditary eye diseases, like corneal dystrophies, patients may not show symptoms until a disease is in its later stages. Eye examination may reveal signs of the disease before the patient is symptomatic — so scheduling a yearly dilated eye exam to find early signs of disease is even more important in treatable conditions. Diabetic retinopathy, a frequent cause of blindness among diabetics ages 20-64, is a prime example of one eye condition that can be treated and ameliorated if diagnosed early on.
The condition occurs in two forms: nonproliferative and proliferative. “Particularly with proliferative retinopathy, someone is at high risk for vision loss, which is why it’s so important for diabetics to get routine eye exams,” Dr. Weiss says. “Every diabetic should have a yearly dilated retina exam, because early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent vision loss.”
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy can range from eye drops or to injections to laser or surgery. Eating well, exercising and taking other steps to manage diabetes can decrease a patient’s chances of developing diabetic retinopathy. “If your diabetes is under good control, it lessens your risk,” Dr. Weiss says. “If your blood sugar is under poor control, it increases your risk.” Other conditions that can increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy include high blood sugar, high cholesterol, anemia, kidney failure and pregnancy.
The chances of developing blinding diabetic retinopathy are much higher in those who do not have yearly dilated diabetic eye exams. “The great tragedy in the U.S. is that diabetic retinopathy is still the leading cause of blindness in patients 20 to 64 years of age,” Dr. Weiss says. “It really is a tragedy, because this is preventable blindness in many cases.”
Jayne S. Weiss, M.D.
Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology
Professor of Ophthalmology, Pathology and Pharmacology
Herbert E. Kaufman M.D. Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology
Director, LSU Eye Center of Excellence
LSU Eye Center Clinic
3700 St. Charles Ave., 6th Floor
New Orleans, LA 70115
MEDICAL SCHOOL: Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
RESIDENCY: Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, Ophthalmology
FELLOWSHIPS: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard University, Ocular Pathology; Emory University, Cornea and External Diseases
BOARD CERTIFICATIONS: Ophthalmology