UMKC vision researchers bring novel approaches, innovative focus to the future of eye care
|Take a virtual tour of the UMKC Vision Research Center with Dr. Nelson Sabates.|
In the United States, more than 9 million people older than age 40 have age-related macular degeneration (AMD). By the year 2030, an estimated 20 million Americans will have been diagnosed with this disease that destroys one’s sharp, central vision that is needed to see objects clearly and perform tasks such as reading and driving.
A leading cause of blindness in Americans ages 60 and older, AMD has become more prominent in recent decades due to Americans living longer. While there is no cure for AMD, there is hope for those who suffer from this disease.
“The Vision Research Center (VRC) at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is pioneering new treatments for AMD through basic and clinical research,” said Nelson Sabates, MD, Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and Director of the Vision Research Center at the UMKC School of Medicine. “Outcomes from recent clinical studies show that zinc and antioxidants play a key role in slowing the progression of AMD, and that conventional laser and photodynamic therapy can reduce the risk of vision loss in patients with certain forms of macular degeneration.”
Basic and translational research at the VRC is led by Peter Koulen, PhD, Professor and Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research at the UMKC School of Medicine, Dr. Koulen and his colleagues are investigating new compounds with the potential to become novel AMD drugs and are developing new drug delivery systems that would eliminate the need for frequent eye injections. They also are developing a medical device that would allow physicians to continuously monitor a patient’s disease progress and therapy success.
“With its continuum of basic, translational, and clinical research efforts, the world-class Vision Research Center at UMKC is poised to change the future of vision care as we know it today,” Dr. Sabates said. “Ophthalmologists will have available various effective research-based treatments to offer patients; patients will experience relief from the adverse effects of eye disease, allowing them to experience life, unrestricted by eye disease.”
For now, the best protection against losing one’s vision is prevention, followed by early detection and treatment. Those at risk for macular degeneration or other eye disease should see an eye doctor at least every one to two years.
March is the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s AMD Awareness Month. Click here to visit their website for more information about AMD.
About the Vision Research Center
The VRC began in 2007 as the research arm of the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology.The Center targets one goal with its interdisciplinary synergy: to better diagnose, prevent, and treat eye diseases and to make a difference in the lives of tens of millions of people through translational research and comprehensive patient care. The center’s nationally recognized excellence in research, patient care and medical education contribute to Kansas City’s strengths in the life sciences.