|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2003
|CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
World-Renowned Opthalmologists Educate Capitol Hill Staff About the Importance of Eye and Vision Research
(Washington DC). At a briefing held today on Capitol Hill and sponsored by the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR), Peter McDonnell, M.D., and Terrence O'Brien, M.D., educated Congressional staff about the latest developments in LASIK and corneal healing, while leading ophthalmic manufacturer Alcon, Inc. provided LASIK screening.
Dr. McDonnell, Director of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, provided an overview of the various refractive errors that impair vision, including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (blurry focus) and presbyopia (the need for bifocals). He noted that refractive surgery is one of the most frequently performed surgeries in the United States, with more than one million people each year treated using laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK).
Dr. O'Brien, Director of Refractive Surgery and Ocular Infectious Diseases at Wilmer, spoke about the use of wavefront-guided technologies to create a "fingerprint" of the eye, quantifying refractive errors and other aberrations. He expanded on the use of wavefront in custom refractive ablation with LASIK, noting its use in correcting refractive errors, erasing corneal scarring, and improving the shape of the cornea, often obviating the need for risky corneal transplants.
Dr. McDonnell and Dr. O'Brien acknowledged that the National Eye Institute (NEI) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided support for many of the technologies underpinning LASIK, including eye tracking devices, corneal topographic measuring systems, and studies on corneal wound healing. They concluded by cautioning attendees that more Americans than ever are facing the threat of blindness and visual impairment. "Diabetic eye disease, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma affect millions of Americans, and these conditions are growing at a significant rate, especially as the baby boom population ages," reported Dr. McDonnell.
Emphasizing Dr. McDonnell's comments, James Jorkasky, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR), requested that Congress fund the NEI at $711 million in Fiscal Year 2004 , in order to complete the promised doubling of its budget since FY1998 and bring it into proportion with the other Institutes within NIH.
The Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Congress and the public about the importance of federal funding for eye and vision research. AEVR is the first organization of its kind to bring together stakeholders in the research community-including ophthalmic and optometric professionals, consumer advocates, and manufacturers-to speak with a unified voice about the economic and societal value of eye and vision research. Visit AEVR's Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.