WVU Eye Institute Awarded $1.65 Million Grant to Study Childhood Blindness


MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - Childhood blindness affects nearly 1.4 million children below the age of 15, according to the World Health Organization.  Three-quarters of those blind children live in the poorest regions of Africa and Asia. 

Visvanathan Ramamurthy, Ph.D., a researcher at the West Virginia University Eye Institute, has received a five–year, $1.65 million grant from the National Eye Institute to study childhood blindness in hopes of finding treatment options to improve their quality of life.

“A large portion of our focus at WVU is placed on local and national health issues,” said John E. Prescott, M.D., Dean of the School of Medicine.  “However, we hope to be able to have an impact on global health as well.  Researchers like Dr. Ramamurthy are receiving grant money to facilitate research that could have a global impact.”

Ramamurthy received support to fund researchers and create resources related to studying the mechanisms behind childhood blindness.

He created a mouse model for studying childhood blindness and used it to discover the molecular basis behind the disease.

“Our research is fundamental in devising new therapies to prevent childhood blindness,” Dr. Ramamurthy said.  “This research grant will help us test our proposed models and greatly enhance our understanding of debilitating blinding diseases.  We can even broadly apply our findings to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

According to Peter Mathers, Ph.D.,  associate professor of ophthalmology, “this type of research funding is the first step toward improved patient care.  The resources Dr. Ramamurthy’s lab will have available will help with research that could make a difference for children suffering from blindness.”

The WVU Eye Institute offers a full range of routine and complex eye care services, including comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fitting, low vision evaluation and rehabilitation, laser vision correction, and subspecialty medical and surgical treatment.

For more information on the Eye Institute or the Department of Ophthalmology visit www.health.wvu.edu or call (304) 598-4820.

- WVU -

For more information:
Steve Bovino, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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