Kellogg Eye Center to grow with aging population

October 1, 2006
Lois A. Bowers, MA

Ann Arbor, MI-An aging population plus the need for more space for clinical care, surgery, and research have led the University of Michigan's (U-M) W.K. Kellogg Eye Center to launch a $121 million expansion that will almost double the size of its existing facility. Kellogg officials expect to open a 222,000-square-foot building adjoining the current structure by 2010 and say the enlarged center could serve as a model for other eye centers confronting similar issues.

The Kellogg Eye Center has seen an 11% growth in patient visits in each of the past 7 years, and officials expect that rate to increase as the baby boomer population-with conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration-peaks in the next 10 to 15 years.

Room to grow

Additionally, the new building will allow the center to devote more space to genetic testing and counseling.

"We have one of the largest, if not the largest, genetic counseling services in ophthalmology in the country," Dr. Lichter said. "We have two full-time genetic counselors on our staff, in addition to a faculty member who runs the medical school's genetic counseling training program."

He also noted that the Kellogg Eye Center was the first in the United States to earn federal certification for eye gene testing through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments program; the center receives samples from around the world for genetic testing.

Construction also will permit growth for research programs, Dr. Lichter said.

"Scientists who were recruited as young scientists are now mid-level or at the peak of their careers. They need additional space for their research," he said, noting the center's research strengths in degenerative retinal diseases, including macular degeneration, as well as glaucoma genetics, eye disease related to diabetes, development of the eye and orbit, and clinical trials.