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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2011
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

AEVR DEFENSE-RELATED VISION BRIEFING FOCUSES ON RESEARCH TO DIAGNOSE VISUAL DISORDERS RESULTING FROM TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) announced that its Decade of Vision 2010-2020 Initiative is hosting a Congressional Briefing entitled Diagnosing Vision Problems Resulting from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to be held Tuesday, February 22, from 12 Noon Ė 1:15 pm in House Rayburn B-340. RSVP to Dina Beaumont at dinabeau@aol.com.

Traumatic eye injury resulting from penetrating wounds and visual disorders from TBI accounts for upwards of 16 percent of injuries in soldiers wounded/evacuated in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that 43,000 OEF/OIF veterans have been diagnosed with eye disorders, including visual problems as a result of TBI, and that upwards of 75% of all TBI patients experience short- or long-term visual dysfunction, which includes double vision, sensitivity to light, inability to read print, and other cognitive problems. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has identified Restoration of Sight and Eye-Care as one of the top four priorities for Department of Defense (DOD) health research funding, along with TBI, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Prosthetics.

The featured speakers include:

  • Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. is studying objective methods, including natural reflexes such as the pupilís response to light and the ability of a patientís eyes to fix and follow a moving visual target, to develop validated diagnostic tests to determine visual dysfunction in patients who are cognitively impaired.

  • Stacey Choi, Ph.D. is studying the use of retinal imaging, known as adaptive optics, to image extremely small defects in the retina which may be the consequence of blast TBI. High resolution imaging of retinal micro-structural changes can be used as an early biomarker for diagnosis of blast TBI.
Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D., Director of the joint DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence (VCE), will provide opening comments.

The featured speakers are among the twelve researchers who have received grant awards from the DODís Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), which manages the dedicated Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision line in defense appropriations. PRMR-Vision is the only dedicated funding source for extramural vision research into immediate battlefield needs which is not conducted by the VA, elsewhere within the DOD, or at the National Eye Institute (NEI) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since FY2009, TATRC has awarded $11 million to researchers addressing the defense-related vision research gaps, as identified by DOD. These include the diagnosis, treatment, and mitigation of visual dysfunction associated with TBI, along with inadequate treatments for traumatic injuries (e.g., blasts, burns); inadequate vision restoration (regeneration, visual prosthetics); inadequate epidemiological studies on sight-injured patients; inadequate ocular diagnostics; inadequate vision rehabilitation strategies; inadequate computational models of battlefield ocular injuries; and vision care education/training.

Randy Kardon, M.D. Ph.D. serves as the Pomerantz Family Chair in Ophthalmology in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics and is affiliated with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, Iowa. He conducts a broad array of vision research that is funded by the VA, the DOD, the NEI, and private vision research organizations.

Stacey Choi, Ph.D., who has an optometry degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, serves as an Associate Professor of Vision Science at the New England College of Optometry. She studies various retinal and optic nerve diseases to understand retinal physiology and function in both normal and diseased eyes using high resolution adaptive optics imaging technology.

Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D., who will provide a welcome, serves as the Director of the joint DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence (VCE). Although the VCE does not fund extramural vision research, Dr. Gagliano serves as the co-chair of the TATRC Programmatic Panel that manages the PRMR-Vision grants/awards process.

The Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR), a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation, is proud to announce this program associated with its Decade of Vision 2010-2020 Initiative, a sustained educational effort acknowledged by Congress that recognizes the benefits of federally funded vision research. Visit its Web site at www.eyeresearch.org