Christopher Girkin, M.D., and Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D., of the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, along with Torrey DeKeyser, executive director of the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama, participated in a webinar on September 5, 2014, titled “How Our Eyes Age – The Impact on Everyday Life.” The webinar was hosted by Grantmakers in Aging, which is an organization that acts as a catalyst for philanthropy.
Drs. Girkin and Owsley discussed eye disorders that are commonly associated with aging, including glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, as well as how aging-related vision impairment impacts everyday life. They also provided suggestions of healthy behaviors that protect eyesight. DeKeyser explained how her organization is working to address vision issues for older adults in the community.
A unique and dynamic philanthropic collaboration has resulted in a gift commitment to establish the Research to Prevent Blindness/Susan and Dowd Ritter Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology Research in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology. The $3.75-million endowment, one of the largest in UAB history, will enable the department to recruit a world-class scientist to join its existing roster of international experts in the study of blinding diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Carrie Huisingh, M.P.H., statistician in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, was awarded the UAB Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging Research Scholarship in Aging for the 2014-2015 academic year. This scholarship is awarded annually to four UAB graduate students whose proposed research examines an aspect of the aging process that impacts the health and well-being of a significant segment of the elderly population.
The growth of the field of ocular biomechanics was on display at the 7th World Congress of Biomechanics July 6 to July 11, 2014, and the UAB Department of Ophthalmology Program of Ocular Biomechanics and Biotransport was at the forefront of this exciting meeting.
Rafael Grytz, Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology, was invited to co-organize and chair the Biomechanics of the Eye Symposium, which featured 18 presentations and one keynote lecture about the field of ocular biomechanics.
Lindsay A. Rhodes, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham was named to the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Leadership Development Program Class of 2015. This prestigious program represents a commitment by the AAO to develop future leaders.
The group comprises 20 ophthalmologists from across the United States and one international appointee. Rhodes, who joined the faculty in 2013 upon completion of her glaucoma fellowship and residency at UAB, has taken an active role in the ophthalmic community.
Paul D. Gamlin, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been awarded the RPB Walt and Lilly Disney Award for Amblyopia Research by Research to Prevent Blindness.
Amblyopia, commonly referred to as “lazy eye,” is the major cause of monocular blindness in America, affecting up to 3 percent of young children. Gamlin will use the $100,000 award to investigate the role of the brain’s cerebellum in maintaining eye alignment.
“This generous award will allow me to investigate how eyes align and focus,” said Paul D. Gamlin, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “These investigations should provide important insights into how these mechanisms malfunction in amblyopia, which will allow us to suggest new treatments for this common disease.”
J. Crawford Downs, Ph.D., professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology, was named chair-elect of the Animals in Research Committee of ARVO, the Association for Research in Vision Science and Ophthalmology.
“This is a great honor for Dr. Downs and for UAB,” said Christopher Girkin, M.D., MSPH, chair of the UAB Department of Ophthalmology. “ARVO is the most pre-eminent vision research organization in the world. Dr. Downs brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this important facet of our efforts to better understand and treat eye disease.”
Fourth of July 2013: Family members were shooting fireworks in the backyard of Dianne Peterson’s home in Vincent, Alabama, as she walked out of the house.
“As I stepped out the back door, they were saying a firework went off; but they didn’t know which way it went,” Peterson said. “Then it hit my eye.”
The damage to her left eye was severe. Peterson suffered a full laceration of the cornea along with bleeding and debris in the back of the eye and damage to the iris. She had a cataract caused by the trauma of the bottle rocket’s impact.
Songs for Sight, a series of benefit concerts supporting the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation, has been awarded the inaugural Hall Thompson Hero for Sight Award by Sight Savers America.
The award is in honor of Hall W. Thompson, whose legacy of work played an integral role in the expansion of Sight Savers America’s eye-care program, which provides comprehensive eye care for more than 40,000 children each year. His belief that every child in Alabama should have an equal opportunity for good vision led him to join the Sight Savers America Board of Trustees and help make that belief a reality.