Grants from Research to Prevent Blindness to support eye researchers surpassed $8 million in 2003


More than 880 published reports cite RPB funding

New York, NY, June 29, 2004 -- Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), the world's leading voluntary health organization supporting eye research, awarded 80 new grants totaling $8,137,000 million in 2003 for research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of all blinding diseases. The RPB awards included research grants to departments of ophthalmology at 44 medical schools throughout the United States. With the addition of the new individual awards, a total of 192 individual ophthalmic scientists conducted research with RPB funds in 2003.

In the same period of time, 883 scientific papers published in 198 professional journals acknowledged RPB for grant support. The organization has posted a complete bibliography of those papers on its web site, , along with its 2003 Annual Report containing highlights of those findings and a listing of the new 2003 grants.

"It is gratifying to find that RPB's strategy is yielding such an abundance of critical information, especially since recent studies indicate that the prevalence of eye disease is on the rise," said Diane S. Swift, President of Research to Prevent Blindness.

Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled more than $220 million to medical institutions throughout the United States. As a result, RPB has been identified with nearly every major breakthrough in eye research in that time, including the development of laser surgery now used to treat diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, myopia, retinal detachment and astigmatism.*

Recently, a number of developments that were supported by grants from RPB have been in the news: the results of a study showing that the use of daily pressure-lowering eye drops can delay or possibly prevent the onset of glaucoma in African Americans at higher risk for developing the disease; the results of a study indicating that long hours spent in the sun increase the risk of blindness later in life due to age-related maculopathy; the preliminary finding that therapy with statins (lipid-lowering medications) or aspirin is associated with decreased rates of abnormal blood vessel formation in patients with age-related macular degeneration; and discoveries about the transfer of nutrients to the eye's lens that could lead to therapies for cataracts.

The wide range of grants approved by RPB in 2003 included research into: how circuits in the retina create vision; the influence of specific genes on various forms of uveitis (inflammation of certain eye structures); protecting eye nerve cells from stress-induced death; new means to prevent virus-induced blindness; the effect of low blood sugar levels on human visual sensitivity and, potentially, macular pathologies such as macular degeneration; the development of a test to predict early-stage glaucoma before the onset of irreversible loss of the visual field; restoring the capacity for visual signaling in the diseased retina; developing markers for pre-symptomatic diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy; reanimating paralyzed eye muscles; and more.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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