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Release: March 24, 2000

UI department of ophthalmology celebrates 75 years of patient care, research

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- As part of its 75th anniversary celebration, the University of Iowa department of ophthalmology and visual sciences, in cooperation with the Iowa City Area Science Center, will host the National Eye Institute (NEI) exhibit, "Vision." The free public exhibit will be displayed at the Old Capitol Town Center April 2 through June 25 during regular mall hours.

"Vision" is a 2,000-square-foot interactive science exhibit, appealing to audiences of all ages. Developed by leading vision scientists to honor the NEI on its 25th anniversary, the exhibit highlights the accomplishments of vision research and explores the translation of pioneering research into the treatment of disease. NEI supports more than 75 percent of the vision research in the United States, including research conducted at the UI.

"We are proud to be able to host a nationally-renowned exhibit in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UI department of ophthalmology and visual sciences," said Thomas Weingeist, M.D., professor and head of the department. " 'Vision' provides a terrific opportunity for the public to become more educated about advances in research and treatment of eye diseases, fields in which the University of Iowa has been a leader since the inception of the department."

Visitors to the exhibit will learn how recent discoveries have unlocked some of the mysteries of sight through models and diagrams that show how the human eye receives light images and transmits them to the brain, where we "see" color, motion, form and depth. Visitors also will learn how researchers are developing ways to protect our sight from visual disorders and disease.

Over the past 75 years, the UI department of ophthalmology and visual sciences has built a tradition of excellence in patient care. Today, a renowned faculty, modern facilities and highly skilled nurses and technicians are specially trained to meet the needs of people needing eye care. More than 65,000 patients are treated within the department annually. For six consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has recognized the department among the nation's top six programs.

The UI department of ophthalmology and visual sciences has 15 residents in training who spend three years learning about diseases and surgery of the eye. After residency training, 10 to 12 ophthalmologists spend additional time training in one of several subspecialty areas.

Research maintains a strong presence in the department, resulting in the latest treatment and technology for patients. Currently, research is being conducted in areas such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and eye cancer, vision screenings for infants, and molecular research of hereditary eye diseases.

Employees of the Iowa City Area Science Center will staff the "Vision" exhibit and will provide tours to school groups. The science center is a nonprofit corporation established for the purpose of creating a permanent science and technology center in the Iowa City area.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.