Cornea Research


The Cornea, External Disease, and Refractive Surgery Division is constantly striving to pioneer new approaches to improving patient care through its basic science, translational, and clinical research programs.

There are three primary focus areas of the Cornea Division’s research program:


The development and testing of optical coherence tomography (OCT) technology to create digital images of the eye for clinical use. The division is currently exploring telemedicine and intraoperative capabilities for OCT. In addition, they are developing a “Whole Eye” scanner and complementary software to improve measurements of the eye in preparation for surgery and to study how the back of the eye changes with myopia (near-sightedness).

Stem Cell Research

Investigation into the use of stem cells’ restorative properties to prohibit degenerative diseases of the cornea.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD Disease)

Exploration of novel approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of MGD Disease, a leading cause of dry eye which affects over 70% of Americans over the age of 60.

Pre-clinical and Clinical Research

Several recent Principal Investigator initiated and industry-initiated clinical trials that the division have either conducted or participated in have resulted in the introduction of new medications and therapeutics to the public, such as:

  • Ultrasert (Alcon) was industry sponsored device which was already on market.
  • Kala was a phase III drop which is at the last step of approval before clinic

Our faculty participate in very early pre-clinical research, population studies and research for the development of diagnostic devices, such as:

  • serum tears for GVHD
  • next generation OCT guided ophthalmic surgery
  • corneal neurotization
  • acyclovir for zoster eye disease
  • Avellino (industry)
  • Duke ocular tumor registry
  • Multiphoton imaging of conjunctival lesions
  • epigenetics of ocular tumors
  • immune contribution to MGD
  • dendritic cells and retinoic acid in conjunctival scarring
  • macrophages in maintenance of corneal nerve physiology
  • innate lymphoid cell network in ocular surface tissues