PBO, PBA award grants in celebration of Vision Research Awareness Month

June 15, 2009

Prevent Blindness Ohio (PBO), along with Prevent Blindness America (PBA), has named June as Vision Research Awareness month.

Columbus, OH-Prevent Blindness Ohio (PBO), along with Prevent Blindness America (PBA), has named June as Vision Research Awareness month. Its mission is to advocate for vision research and assist in providing researchers with the resources they need to help find the causes of and cures for blinding eye diseases.

In celebration of Vision Research Month, a $45,000 PBA 2009 Investigator Award was presented to Loretta B. Szczotka-Flynn, OD, MS, and co-investigator Mahmoud Ghannoum, PhD, Case Western Reserve University, for their research project, “Prevention of Soft Contact Lens Associated Fusarium Biofilms.” Their study will utilize a model of soft contact lens biofilms to assess the efficacy of contact lens solutions against infection and test mechanisms of their prevention.

PBO also is awarding fellowship grants to five student fellows through its Young Investigators Student Fellowship Award for Female Scholars in Vision Research. This program encourages female scientists at the beginning of their careers to pursue vision research that can contribute toward the early detection and treatment discoveries that will be needed to curb the growth of vision loss in Ohio.

Among the recipients:

Andrea M. Crabb, The Ohio State University College of Optometry, is conducting research at the Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Her research potentially could identify useful biomarkers for diagnosing age-related macular degeneration before severe vision loss occurs.

Rao Fu, Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, is conducting research, which has the potential for significantly impacting an important, but poorly understood aspect of photoreceptor biology relevant to human retinal disease, including retinitis pigmentosa. Results could lead to the discovery of new approaches for the detection, prevention, and treatment of vision loss.

Kristina M. Haworth, OD, The Ohio State University College of Optometry, is conducting research relevant to identifying underlying causes of dry eye disease by analysis of proteins present. Increased understanding of the cause of dry eye disease may lead to identification of biomarkers and potential new treatments.

Kathryn Richdale , OD, MS, The Ohio State University College of Optometry, is conducting a study using multiple imaging techniques to examine the crystalline lens, ciliary body, and geometric relationship of these structures to further the understanding of presbyopia.

Jennifer Van Grol, Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Ophthalmology and Pathology, is conducting research in immunology that may provide results that eventually might help in design of a vaccine against T. gondii, which is considered the most common cause of infectious retinitis in the world.