Eye Institute - Research Summary

Glaucoma research team: Vikas Gulati, M.D., Sushma Rai, M.D., Carol Toris, Ph.D., and Shan Fan, M.D.

  • The research team is studying the effects of the disease on fluid flow within the eye and how it can be treated with different glaucoma medications and drainage devices.
  • Other studies are focused on the circadian regulation of fluid production and drainage in the eye, pressure lowering mechanisms of new medications and the potential contribution of diabetes to glaucoma damage.
  • Yet other studies are looking at the effects of glaucoma and drug therapy on ocular blood flow, the normal physiological changes in fluid flow in the eye during puberty and adolescence, and comparison of clinical techniques to measure intraocular pressure.

Lens research team: Toshimichi Shinohara, Ph.D., Dhirendra (D.P.) Singh, Ph.D., and Nigar Fatma, Ph.D.

  • Recent studies have found that age-related cataracts, which develop in more than 90 percent of individuals over age 70, are associated with something called the unfolded protein response. Depressed blood circulation can induce this response in elderly patients and may contribute to age-related cataract formation.
  • The researchers have identified a protein, peroxiredoxin, as critical for preventing oxidative damage that can cause cataracts and other degenerative disorders. This protein is a therapeutic target for treating age-associated eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.

Wallace Thoreson, Ph.D.

  • Dr. Thoreson’s lab combines state-of-the-art electrophysiological and imaging techniques to study the physiology of retinal neurons and vision.
  • His research focuses on the essential role calcium channels and glutamate receptors play in sending visual messages to the brain from the rods and cones in the eye. Over-stimulation of these channels and receptors can promote nerve cell damage due to stroke, ischemia and in a number of eye diseases including glaucoma.

Eyal Margalit, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Dr. Margalit is studying ways to improve therapeutic treatment for retinal disease by examining the use of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs as a potential alternative to steroid injections.
  • In collaboration with Dr. Thoreson, Dr. Margalit also is studying the use of retinal prosthetic devices that use electrical stimulation to restore sight in people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration.
  • In conjunction with this research he also is working with investigators at the Naval Research Laboratory on developing a high resolution retinal implant device.

Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine: Iqbal Ahmad, Ph.D.

  • Dr. Ahmad’s lab is focused on understanding and finding new ways to treat retinal degeneration that causes devastating vision loss in diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, retinitis-pigmentosa and glaucoma, using stem cells.
  • His lab is exploring a variety of approaches that might one day be used to treat degenerative changes simply by activating stem cells that exist in retina or by transplanting stem cells from other sources, grown in the lab.
  • They are advancing new ways to treat the wet form of age-related macular degeneration through targeted therapy that has been shown to reduce abnormal blood vessel formation in animal models.

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