Wednesday, April 22, 2009

  • Dry-eyed? Researchers want your tears
  • Recycle old electronics on May 9
  • Team is 10th in ACM, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Eye with pipette]

Taking tear samples — that's how it's done. The eye belongs to Kevin van Doorn, graduate student in vision science.

Dry-eyed? Researchers want your tears

by Alisa Sivak, school of optometry

The Centre for Contact Lens Research is looking for post-menopausal women who have dry eyes and who are not taking hormone replacement therapy, to be part of a study comparing two commonly-used methods of collecting tear samples.

Some background: A number of factors can contribute to dry eye symptoms. Tears, which enter the eye through the lacrimal duct (under your upper eyelid, on the side furthest from your nose) and spread over the surface of your eye when you blink, are supposed to keep the eye moist and comfortable. Normal tears have three layers. The middle layer contains water, and provides moisture to the eye. The mucin layer is sticky, which keeps your tears on the surface of the eye. An oily layer prevents your tears from evaporating. Eyes can become dry when one or more of these layers is disrupted.

But there’s a lot that we don’t know about dry eye, and we can learn more by examining the composition of tears. The problem is that none of the standard means of collecting tear samples have been validated; in other words, we don’t know which sampling method works best, or whether the results of different methods are comparable.

The purpose of the study is to compare two ways of collecting tear samples. In the “eyewash” method, the study investigator instils a small amount of saline into the eye, where it mixes with natural tears. This solution is collected in a small, disposable, sterile glass tube that is held near the lower eyelid (not touching the surface of the eye). The “Schirmer” method collects tears via a small strip of filter paper that rests on the inside of the lower eyelid for five minutes. Both methods are used commonly by eye care practitioners and pose no risk. (If anything, your eye might feel slightly itchy for a few minutes after the sample has been taken.) The tears are then extracted, frozen, and sent to an outside lab for analysis.

We’re looking for post-menopausal women with dry eyes. Do you qualify? Although your eye care practitioner can do tests to determine whether you have dry eyes, the ultimate judge is you. Some key questions to consider:

Are your eyes sore when you wake up? You may sleep with your eyes slightly open. Without the protection of your eyelids, which keep your eye moist by spreading tears over the surface, that exposed part of your eye can become dry and irritated.

Are your eyes “sticky” in the morning? Your body produces a lower volume of tears overnight — and eyelids that are closed for sleep don’t circulate tears on the eye’s surface the way they do when you are awake, blinking regularly. On top of this normal sleep response, though, post-menopausal women can have extra difficulty producing enough tears to keep their eyes comfortable.

Are your eyes watery? Do they tear up often? It may seem strange, but this can be a symptom of dry eyes. You may be missing key “sticky” ingredients in the mucin layer of your tears.

Do your eyes burn (or feel “hot”)? Are they itchy or prickly? Your tears may be evaporating too quickly. This could be due to extra heating or air conditioning, both of which can dry your living environment. You may have noticed the same effect if you spend a lot of time starting at a computer screen. It may also be that your tears are missing the oily layer that slows their evaporation.

Anyone who would like to volunteer for this CCLR study can call ext. 37187 or e-mail research@ Study participants receive $20 per hour. All studies conducted by the Centre for Contact Lens Research have been reviewed and received ethics clearance through the UW Office of Research Ethics.

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Recycle old electronics on May 9

Laughably out-of-date computers, broken printers, gummed-up keyboards, clunky old TV sets — UW’s central stores is providing a chance to get rid of them during the first week of May and even feel a bit virtuous about doing it.

There’s a five-day offer open to UW departments, followed by a one-day opportunity to bring in junk from home.

Joel Norris, assistant manager of stores, gives the background: “Central Stores currently handles all of the electronic waste products generated by the university community. Our surplus program arranges for the pickup of the goods where it is then sorted for resale or recycle. One of our recycle partners is a company located in Cambridge called Greentec Recycling Services.

“Central Stores and Greentec have decided to host an e-waste green day on Saturday, May 9, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at our East Campus Hall, 263 Phillip Street, location. This day has been organized to provide the university community (faculty, staff, students and friends) with an opportunity to recycle approved e-waste products from their homes, at no cost.

“This green initiative is part of our Central Stores green commitment. The success of this event will determine the possibility of other green day events in the future.”

Word about the “green day” is posted on the stores web site along with two lists: one of items that will be accepted on May 9 and one of items that won’t. “The focus is primarily on computer systems,” says Norris, so the Yes list includes desktops and laptops, printers and keyboards, monitors and internal components. Also okay are cell phones, television sets and fax machines.

Not being accepted on May 9: modems, photocopiers, landline telephones, and audio or video equipment such as radios, tape recorders, turntables and VCRs. The standard way of disposing of those and all electronics is to drop them off at the Waterloo landfill site and pay a $10-per-item recycling fee.

For on-campus hardware, Norris advises, “Central Stores is planning a five day on campus departmental e-waste pickup initiative, starting Monday, May 4, and ending Friday, May 8. Departments would be required to call Central Stores at ext. 32262 to arrange for the e-waste pickup. Central Stores staff will arrive at the departments to remove the e-waste during the week. Departments are required to have the computer hard drives wiped (data removed) before the pickup.”

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Team is 10th in ACM, and other notes

UW's team has placed tenth in this year's ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, and is one of five teams to come home with a bronze medal. The final round of competition was held in Stockholm yesterday, with first place going to a team from Russia's powerhouse St. Petersburg State University of Information Technology, Mechanics and Optics. China's Tsinghua University came second; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, top-ranking North American entry this year, was seventh among the 91 teams that reached the finals. Members of the Waterloo team, who won their regional contest a few months back to earn a berth in Stockholm, were Andy Kong, Konstantin Lopyrev, and Malcolm Sharpe. They were coached by Ondrej Lhotak and Richard Peng of the school of computer science.

Today’s a busy day with campus events, for some reason, and in fact one major event goes beyond the campus: the Sweeney Lecture in Current Issues in Healthcare, an annual fixture sponsored by St. Jerome’s University, with support from St. Mary’s General Hospital and the corporation and religious order that operate the hospital. It’s to be held tonight at St. Mary’s, on Queen’s Boulevard in Kitchener, in a room called Heasley Hall. The title: “Beyond the Barriers: A Community Forum on Healthcare in a Multicultural City”. Says a flyer: “Health care professionals increasingly face new challenges in our progressively more multicultural and multi-religious society. In this panel, health care practitioners and experts from some of Waterloo Region’s ethnic and visible minority communities will gather to discuss how to provide healthcare that respects the dignity, values, and unique spirituality of all Canadians.” The event starts at 7:00 tonight, and admission is free.

Ann Barrett, manager of the UW writing centre, reports that grades are ready for those students who wrote the English Language Proficiency Examination on the day before winter term exams started. Grades are posted, she says, in all undergraduate offices and at the writing centre, PAS (Psychology) building room 2082. “We congratulate all those who passed,” says Barrett. “Students who were not successful can explore their options by visiting our web site.”

The School of Accounting and Finance says 1,050 applicants for next fall’s first-year class were on campus April 4 to write the Accounting and Financial Management Admissions Assignment, an important factor in deciding who’s accepted. Another 100 applicants wrote the two-hour test at other locations around the world. Some 1,700 parents and others accompanied the applicants to campus. The annual event takes months of planning, and requires many people to make it run smoothly. “We remain in awe at the effort involved and the quality of the experience that was delivered,” says Donna Psutka, director of the AFM program, praising her colleagues in her report on the event. Approximately 170 student volunteers and 30 others helped out. Representatives from Student Awards, the registrar's office, the Living-Learning Community, Cooperative Education and Career Services, and several other UW units also got involved in welcoming the visitors. An evaluation team are now scoring the assignments, and the school will send out its offers of admission in early May.

And . . . in last Thursday's Daily Bulletin, chatting about the features of UW's new Pharmacy building, I wrote about the third-floor "pharmaceutical practice lab". Its correct name, I'm reminded, is "professional practice lab", since that's where future pharmacists learn about the fine points and public face of their profession. I had a further chance to explore the new building on the weekend, by the way, along with about 3,000 other open house visitors. Reading one bulletin board as I passed it, I noted an announcement aimed at pharmacy students, about a May 9 VIP-style tour of downtown Kitchener, one of the many ways the school is looking to build close connections with the community.


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Link of th[globe] day

Earth Day

When and where

Winter term examinations continue through Friday. Unofficial winter term grades appear in Quest beginning April 27. Grades become official May 25.

Staff Appreciation Week lunches at University Club, through Friday, 11:30 to 2:00, $18.95 per person, reservations ext. 33801.

Terpsichore dance performances Wednesday-Thursday, Humanities Theatre.

UW Retirees Association spring luncheon 11:30 a.m., Luther Village, speaker (new) Ron Schlegel, retirement community executive and gerontology researcher, tickets $25, information 519-885-4758.

Earth Day energy showcase co-sponsored by UW Faculty of Environment and the Residential Energy Efficiency Project, information for homeowners, 11:30 to 7:00, Kitchener city hall rotunda.

‘Your American Income Taxes’ new faculty lunch-and-learn session with Ken Klasen and Stan Laiken, school of accounting and finance, for US citizens on the UW faculty, 11:45 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004. Details.

Smarter health seminar: Neil Gardner, Saskatchewan Health, “Advancing Health Informatics as a Profession” 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Hallman Lecture: Tess Kay, Loughborough University, England, “Pressure Zone or Pleasure Zone? How Family Life Impacts Work-Life Balance” 4:30, Hallman Institute room 1621.

Columbia Lake Health Club “lifestyle learning” session: “Get Ready for Golf”, 5:30 p.m., 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Alumni in Windsor: reception with leaders of the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR) and student Alternative Fuels Team, 6:00, The Keg Riverside, Windsor, Ontario.

Public forum on the Middle East 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC great hall.

Spiritual Heritage Education Network presents Swami Maheshanand Saraswati, “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali”, 7:30 p.m., CEIT room 1015.

Staff association pension, benefits and compensation subcommittee meets Thursday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1351, association members welcome.

Chemical engineering seminar: Eric Stangland, Dow Chemical, “Alkane Activation over Rare-Earth Oxychloride Catalysts”, Thursday 3:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 2529.

Alumni in London, UK: networking reception Thursday 6:00 p.m., Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill. Details.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel University College, breakfast seminar: “Succession Stories” Friday 7 a.m., Waterloo Inn. Details.

Used book sale sponsored by local chapter of Canadian Federation of University Women, Friday (9:00 to 9:00) and Saturday (9:00 to 1:00), First United Church, King and William Streets; drop off books at the church today or Thursday, or call 519-740-5249.

Health informatics seminar: Pavel Roshanov and Noemi Chanda, UW students, report on their Agfa Healthcare Innovation Award project, “Case-Based Reasoning for Patient Self-Management of Oral Anticoagulant Medications”, Friday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, annual general meeting, Friday 1:00 p.m., University of Guelph Thornbrough building room 1200; seminar, Tong Leung of UW, “Surface Science of Some Nano Stuff”, 3:00; graduate student poster session and awards presentation follow, Peter Clark Hall, U of G.

Chinese competition: Ontario University Students Chinese Proficiency Competition, hosted by Renison University College, Friday 1:30 p.m. Details.

Graduate Student Research Conference April 27-30, Davis Centre. Details. Keynote address: Howard Burton, former executive director of Perimeter Institute, “First Principles: The Crazy Business of Doing Serious Science”, April 28, 1:30 p.m., Davis room 1350, all welcome.

Fee payment deadline for the spring term: April 27 (cheque, money order or fee arrangements), April 30 (bank transfer). Details.

UW-ACE system will be down April 28, 6:30 a.m., to April 29, 12:00 noon.

Renison University College book launch for Bold and Courageous Dreams: A History of Renison University College 1959-2009 by Gail Cuthbert Brandt, hosted by UW bookstore, Tuesday 4:00, Dana Porter Library first floor, RSVP k4king@

Howard Burton, former executive director of Perimeter Institute, speaks about his forthcoming book, Tuesday 7:00 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, free, sponsored by retail services.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Ecology laboratory manager, dean's office, faculty of environment, USG 9
• Undergraduate assistant, Germanic and Slavic studies, USG 5
• Curriculum assistant, arts undergraduate office, USG 5
• Student services assistant, arts undergraduate office, USG 4
• General cafeteria helper, food services
• Research assistant, kinesiology, USG 8
• Information systems technical specialist, information systems and technology, USG 11-13
• Communications officer, principal gifts, development and alumni affairs, USG 10 (one-year contract or secondment)
• Project manager, information systems and technology, USG 13-14 (one-year contract or secondment)

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