Kwon, Ph.D., receives prestigious Low Vision Research Award

Kwon will receive $300,000 to support her research.

Kwon2MiYoung Kwon, Ph.D.Research to Prevent Blindness and Lions Clubs International Foundation have granted MiYoung Kwon, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, a $300,000 RPB/LCIF Low Vision Research Award to support her eye research.

“I am very delighted and honored to receive this award. I am also deeply thankful to RPB and LCIF for recognizing the significance of low-vision research and for their generous support,” Kwon said. “Our work aims to translate a patient’s overall eye health information into the patient’s everyday visual function by taking full advantage of cutting-edge data mining and

machine learning techniques in combination with computational retina modeling.”

While structural and functional assessments of a patient’s eye health are routinely performed in a clinic, they are not necessarily a good indicator of the patient’s visual performance in real life, says Kwon. For this reason, eye-care specialists and/or patients lack a clear understanding of how, for example, visual field index of 70 percent or visual acuity of 20/150 corresponds to the visual performance of a patient’s daily activities such as reading, face recognition, driving or navigation.

Despite its clinical significance, there exists no useful metric that translates a patient’s collective eye health information into its functional impacts on real-life visual activities. The existing gap between clinical assessments and everyday visual function imposes difficulties for clinicians in making appropriate referrals for rehabilitation services and in providing recommendations regarding occupational disability. Kwon hopes her research will fill this critical gap.

“I am particularly excited about this research proposal because this work would help advance our understanding of perceptual issues of individuals with low vision and improve the management and rehabilitation of low vision by providing clinicians with useful tools to estimate a patient’s visual limitation in the real world,” she said.

The award was established in 2016 by RPB and LCIF to address urgent needs in understanding and treating low vision, one of the 10 most common causes of disability in the United States, by launching new lines of research that target damage to the visual system.

Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled more than $368 million into eye research. As a result, RPB has been identified with nearly every major breakthrough in vision research in that time. For information on RPB’s grants program, listings of RPB institutional and individual grantees, and findings generated by these awards, please visit

More detailed information about Kwon’s research can be found here.