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Massachusetts Eye and Ear to offer advanced, 3D surgical visualization technology to retina patients

Boston, Mass. — Massachusetts Eye and Ear is enhancing the care it brings to adult and pediatric retina patients with a new and innovative vitreoretinal surgical platform, known as the NGENUITY 3D Visualization System. Designed to enhance the operating experience for retina surgeons and their patients, the new “heads up” technology offers surgeons better visualization in surgery, engenders a more collaborative operating room environment and helps reduce surgeon fatigue. Mass. Eye and Ear is the first medical center in New England to acquire the state-of-the-art system, which will be offered at the hospital’s two locations in Boston: 243 Charles Street and 800 Huntington Avenue.

Researchers Identify Mechanism of Retina Damage Following Chemical Eye Burns

Findings may lead to the development of therapies to prevent damage to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Boston, Mass. — Chemical eye burns caused by alkali agents not only injure the front of the eye — the cornea, where the contact takes place — but also cause widespread damage to the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (the retina) as well, often leading to optic nerve damage and glaucoma.

Researchers Identify New Target for Abnormal Blood Vessel Growth in the Eyes

Regulating transcription factor RUNX1 using small molecule drugs a promising novel therapy for diseases of the retina, including advanced diabetic eye disease. Boston, Mass. — A team led by Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers has identified a novel therapeutic target for retinal neovascularization, or abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina, a hallmark of advanced diabetic eye disease (proliferative diabetic retinopathy). According to a report published online today in Diabetes, the transcription factor RUNX1 was found in abnormal retinal blood vessels, and by inhibiting RUNX1 with a small molecule drug, the researchers achieved a 50 percent reduction of retinopathy in preclinical models.

Brain “Rewires” Itself to Enhance Other Senses in Blind People

Boston, Mass. — The brains of those who are born blind make new connections in the absence of visual information, resulting in enhanced, compensatory abilities such as a heightened sense of hearing, smell and touch, as well as cognitive functions (such as memory and language) according to a new study led by Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers. The report, published online today in PLOS ONE, describes for the first time the combined structural, functional and anatomical changes in the brain evident in those born with blindness that are not present in normally sighted people.

MLERF Awards $980,000 in Research Grants

July 21, 2016. New MLERF President Martin Middleton was on hand to present the checks to winners of the 2014-2015 MLERF grants, as previously announced by MLERF Immediate Past President Randall “Randy” Pinch. Through the fund-raising efforts of Lions throughout Massachusetts, MLERF was able to distribute $980,000 to Boston area research institutions. Grants were awarded to the following institutions: Boston University Medical Center($170,000) Boston Children’s Hospital($140,000) Tufts University Medical Center($170,000) Joslin Diabetes Center($160,000) Schepens Eye Research Institute ($170,000) Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary ($170,000) Dr.

Lotfi B. Merabet, Ph.D., O.D., receives Low Vision Research Award

Boston, Mass. — Lotfi B. Merabet, Ph.D., O.D., an optometrist and vision researcher at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, is the 2016 recipient of the Low Vision Research Award from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) and the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). Dr. Merabet (pictured left) will receive $300,000 over three years for his project studying neuroplasticity and cortical/cerebral visual impairment (CVI) – the primary cause of congenital visual impairment in developed countries, including the United States.

Using Retinal Stem Cells to Restore Vision

Here’s a great video explaining how retinal stem cells (aka retinal precursor cells) are used to restore vision: Retinal precursor cells are biological cells that differentiate into the various cell types of the retina during development. In the vertebrate, these retinal cells differentiate into seven cell types, including retinal ganglion cells,amacrine cells, bipolar cells, horizontal cells, rod photoreceptors, cone photoreceptors, and Müller glia cells. This is just one of the #InspiredResearch projects funded by a MLERFi grant that is leading to #SightSavingCures.

Injectable Drug Shows Huge Benefit for Diabetic Eye Disease

A new clinical trial involving more than 300 people has shown that Lucentis, the injectable drug, not only treats macular edema, but also is as effective as laser surgery for proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Treatment for both diseases also can often restore vision. MLERFi began funding the research that ultimately led to this breakthrough more than 10 years ago. More #InspiredResearch. You can read about it here.

Use of Retinal Stem Cells Enters Clinical Trial Stage

For 10 years MLERFi has been funding Dr. Michael Young’s #InspiredResearch on regeneration of the retina. One of his main projects is using retinal stem cells to try to replace lost photo-receptors in the degenerating retina. Dr. Young’s research has now entered the clinical trial stage at Massachusetts Eye and Eye Infirmary. If the clinical trials are successful, the doctors will be able to grow photo-receptors (rods and cones) in the damaged retina.

New Instrument Provides Instant Results

The New England Eye Center sees nearly 10,000 patients diagnosed with corneal disease every year. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to diagnose and begin treatment for corneal infections. The standard diagnostic procedure involves taking a biopsy of corneal tissue. Then waiting for the results from a pathologist. What if you could get the results instantly, without the need for a tissue sample? Thanks to a MLERFi Presidential grant awarded to Tufts Medical Center, that dream is now a reality.