Department of Ophthalmology

Research Accomplishments

(4MD's/PhD's, 17 MD’s; 9 PhD’s; 2 other; 44 publications; 2 book chapters distributed in 2 books)

Significant Scientific Accomplishments
We continue to expand our understanding of how interactions between retinal metabolism, environmental stress and genetic mutations lead to blindness through 3 major research areas.

Area 1:  Early Changes in Mitochondrial Reserve Capacity (MRC):  A Means to Predict Subsequent Photoreceptor Cell Death (Retinal Diseases)

Research:  Under normal conditions, mitochondria neutralize harmful oxidants; however, under environmental or genetic abnormality, oxidative stress may exceed mitochondrial antioxidant capacities, leading to cellular degeneration.  It was hypothesized that loss in MRC plays a causative role in neuronal degeneration.

Results:  Data suggested that loss in MRC is a major contributor in disease pathogenesis.  A novel assay for quantifying real-time cellular metabolism was developed to screen agents that protect against loss of MRC.  

Significance:  Measurement of extracellular flux will be a valuable aide in developing therapeutic treatments for retina and general neurodegenerative pathologies.  

Area 2:  Fluorescence Identification of Aging Marker in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) (AMD)

Research:  Lipofuscin is an aging (fluorescent) marker in the RPE associated with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) development.  MALDI imaging was used to locate potential molecules responsible for lipofuscin fluorescence in RPE.

Results:  Various new, age- and strain-specific targets were found, validating the use of MALDI for specific compound identification and correlation with lipofuscin.

Significance:  Mass spectrometric imaging can be used to identify the molecular substructure of clinically-relevant diagnostic information.

Area 3:  Comparison of Contact Lens and Intraocular Lens Correction of Monocular Aphakia during Infancy (Cataract)

Research:  The efficacy and safety of primary intraocular lens (IOL) implantation during early infancy is unknown.  Visual outcomes of patients optically-corrected with a contact lens (CL) were compared to an IOL following unilateral cataract surgery during early infancy.

Results:  Significantly more adverse events and additional procedures occurred in the IOL group, suggesting leaving the eye aphakic and focusing the eye with a CL, when operating on an infant younger than 7 months-of-age with a unilateral cataract.

Significance:  Primary IOL implantation should be reserved for those infants where the cost and handling of a CL would result in significant periods of uncorrected aphakia. 

 View research photos from 2014

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