Bench to Bedside and Back

Preserving and restoring sight for patients suffering blinding eye disease is the core of the Duke Ophthalmology research mission.

Duke Ophthalmology aims to discover important new knowledge about biology of the eye, gain better understanding about the causes, mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders, translate research innovations into new care modalities and to train the next generation of researchers.

Research at Duke Ophthalmology is by no means isolated in a single laboratory or subspecialty - it’s embedded in every patient visit.  Truly “bench to bedside and back.”   The central location of the largest multi-disciplinary Duke Eye Center clinic, the Albert Eye Reserach Institute, which houses research facilities, and proximity to Duke University campus allows a multi-dimensional, approach -- making Duke Eye Center an international leader in ophthalmic research.

There are two types of research which are inter-related and continuously in progress within Duke Ophthalmology.  


Research News

Duke PhD Student Presents Research on Utilizing AR Guidance System in Retinal Laser Therapy

Sarah Eom, PhD student in the Pratt School of Engineering, will present her research on "Edge-based Augmented Reality (AR) Guidance System for Retinal Laser Therapy via Feature Matching" at the 22nd International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks held May 9-12, 2023 in San Antonio, TX. She also presented this research at the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual meeting in April

Duke Vision Scientist Receives Top Honor from ARVO

Daniel R. Saban, PhD is the recipient of the 2024 Cogan Award, presented by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). This prestigious award recognizes young researchers that have made significant contributions to research in ophthalmology or visual science, and that show substantial promise for future contributions in this field.   

A New Era in Dry AMD Treatment

FDA Approves First Treatment for Geographic Atrophy

On February 17, 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a groundbreaking treatment to treat geographic atrophy (GA), an advanced form of dry macular degeneration (AMD). Eleonora Lad, MD, PhD, director of clinical research and associate professor, was a lead investigator in the OAKS trial, a pivotal clinical trial that supported the FDA approval.

Duke Ophthalmology Ranks 10th Nationally in NIH Funding

Duke School of Medicine has received more than $527 million in federal funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2022, ranking ninth nationally, according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. Duke Ophthalmology is one of eight clinical science departments and two basic science departments in the School of Medicine to rank among the top 10 in the country - receiving over $10 million in NIH funding in 2022.

Duke is the Lead Site for Atmosphere and Ascent Trials

Duke Eye Center is participating in two pivotal gene therapy clinical trials, ATMOSPHERE and ASCENT that may become promising treatments for age-related macular degeneration.  The studies, are large multisite trials, and Duke is the lead site for ASCENT and Lejla Vajzovic, MD is the lead PI for the trial. 

The Glaucoma Gene Optineurin Protects Against Viral Infection in the Eye and Brain

Duke glaucoma specialist Henry Tseng, MD, PhD discovered an important novel function for a gene called Optineurin through a collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of virologists at the University of Illinois Chicago over many years.  This gene is associated with glaucoma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and may play a role in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases. This exciting work was reported in two recently published papers in Nature Communications and Journal of Immunology. 

Osteopontin: A Newly Identified Biomarker for Early Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly in the Western World. The dry clinical sub-type of this disease occurs in approximately 85% of patients and is characterized by the accumulation of extracellular deposits in the posterior pole of the eye. The exact mechanisms involved in the growth and development of these deposits, which are similar to those that form in systemic and neurodegenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease, is not known. Additionally, there are no therapies available to patients with dry AMD.