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Bausch & Lomb, U Rochester Renew Partnership

Photonics.com
Jul 2006
ROCHESTER, N.Y., July 17, 2006 -- Bausch & Lomb and the University of Rochester, two of Rochester’s biggest employers, have extended their longstanding history of collaboration with an $11 million pact to evaluate treatments for eye disease and to undertake basic research on glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and other leading causes of blindness.

Under two new five-year agreements, Bausch & Lomb will provide approximately $11 million in new research funding to enable university researchers to undertake projects relevant to eye health. Together with previous agreements between them that established the Alliance for Vision Excellence and enabled the university’s Eye Institute to grow dramatically, Bausch & Lomb funding to the University of Rochester Eye Institute and its Center for Visual Science (CVS) from 2000 to 2011 will total more than $19 million, the university said in a statement.

"Rochester has a great number of partners working together to treat eye disease," said Steven Feldon, MD, the founding director of the University of Rochester Eye Institute and professor and chair of its department of ophthalmology. "Rochester is home to the nation’s original optics program, to the company that has revolutionized eye-care technology and to a leading center of research on human vision and eye disease. Together we will develop advanced diagnostic and therapeutic technologies and conduct basic visual science as well as clinical research."

In the late 1990s, Bausch & Lomb licensed research by a CVS team led by David Williams, PhD, director of CVS and a professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, on adaptive optics, which allows astronomers to take crisp images of the heavens through the atmosphere. Williams aimed the technology inward, into the human eye, allowing him to take the clearest images ever obtained of the living inner eye. Williams teamed with Strong Vision refractive surgeon Scott MacRae, who pioneered the effort to use the new technology to actually improve patients’ eyesight. The work helped Bausch & Lomb bring to market a system to enable surgeons performing refractive surgery procedures to improve their patients’ eyesight to extraordinary levels of clarity, the university said in a statement.

More than twice as many patients seek care at the Institute now than five years ago, and the number of doctors who treat complex eye diseases has more than doubled. Patients who formerly traveled to cities like Baltimore or Boston for treatment now stay in Rochester, which attracts patients from around the world for procedures such as implantation of artificial corneas, it said.

Funding from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Rochester Department of Ophthalmology has increased sevenfold since 2002, and the number of scientists doing basic eye-related research has more than doubled, the university said. With current construction; clinical space has tripled.

The $6.3 million agreement will also help to fund a new faculty position, a technician, a resident position and a support staff position. A second agreement will provide approximately $1 million a year to researchers at CVS and the institute who are working on a variety of projects related to eye health. Efforts include studying how glaucoma actually kills nerve cells and damages vision; looking at the earliest changes in patients with diabetic retinopathy; treating presbyopia, where the lens of the eye becomes less flexible as people age, causing them to need reading glasses; and developing new tools to diagnose and monitor dry eye.

For more information, visit: urmc.rochester.edu


GLOSSARY
blindness
The inability to perceive visual images (visible radiant energy). In human beings, blindness is defined as a visual acuity of less than one-tenth normal vision.
ophthalmology
The branch of medicine involved in the study of the anatomy, functions, diseases and treatments of the eye.
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