August 08, 2016

UAB researcher receives Eye Institute telemedicine grant for glaucoma work

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UAB’s Lindsay Rhodes, M.D., will study telemedicine as a potential strategy to improve eye disease detection and management. 

lindsay rhodes 2016Rhodes will study telemedicine as a potential strategy to improve eye disease detection and management.Lindsay Rhodes, M.D., has received a $1 million National Eye Institute grant to study new care delivery models such as telemedicine to treat glaucoma. Glaucoma is a blinding eye disease increasingly common in older adults and often diagnosed late in the disease course.

Rhodes, an assistant professor in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, says it is essential to develop novel health care models, utilizing telemedicine, to improve the ability of routine eye exams to detect glaucoma at an earlier stage, and to provide a platform to manage this disease in community-based clinics so further vision loss is prevented. 

The grant also includes funding for a training program that will consist of mentored research, conducted under the direction of a team composed of Christopher Girkin, M.D., professor and chairman of the UAB Department of Ophthalmology; Cynthia Owsley, M.D., professor and vice chair for clinical research in the Department; Stephen Mennemeyer, Ph.D., professor in the UAB Department of Health Care Organization and Policy; and Gerald McGwin, Ph.D., professor and vice chair in the UAB Department of Epidemiology. The mentored research plan will evaluate a novel community-based care delivery model for open-angle glaucoma.

In open-angle glaucoma, there is an imbalance in the production and drainage of the clear fluid, called the aqueous humor, that fills the eye’s anterior chamber.

“Telemedicine is a potential strategy to improve eye disease detection and management, as well as to improve effectiveness, access and adherence with routine eye care,” Rhodes said. “Telemedicine is well-suited for the detection and management of certain eye conditions since there have been great strides made in the development of non-invasive ocular imaging devices that provide high levels of diagnostic reliability, ease of training of testing personnel and electronically transmissible results.”

The NEI grant is a five-year K23 grant, which is classified as a career development award. These grants fund young clinician scientists toward becoming independent investigators.

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