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Release: Nov. 19, 2001

UI researchers receive grant to create eye device

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa Health Care project to develop an instrument to better diagnose and treat eye diseases that cause vision loss has received another boost in funding.

Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D., UI associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and Young H. Kwon, M.D., Ph.D., UI assistant professor (clinical) in ophthalmology and visual sciences, in conjunction with Kestrel Corporation in Albuquerque, N.M., have received a two-year, $750,000 phase two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from the National Eye Institute (NEI).

This is the second SBIR grant the two UI investigators have received from the NEI. In 2000, the researchers and Kestrel Corporation were awarded a $100,000 phase one SBIR grant.

The eye instrument is designed to provide images and analysis of spectral properties of the retina, which is the nerve layer that lines the inside of the eye. The new grant will help the collaborators modify the device and later test it on human participants at the UI.

The retina converts light into nerve signals that the brain then interprets as images. In certain diseases, such as glaucoma, the optic nerve becomes damaged and leads to blindness.

Kardon is also a researcher with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City.

The National Eye Institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, supports research that addresses the leading causes of blindness and impaired vision in the United States. SBIR awards are designed to help determine the technical merit and feasibility of proposed research and development efforts that may ultimately lead to a commercial product or service.

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