The Eyes Have It

$10 million grant will help the School of Medicine develop new treatments for retinal disease.

With the help of a $10 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI), researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine will focus on developing new treatments for retinal disease.

healthy retina

A heathly retina. Image courtesy Getty Images

Diseases that impact the retina—the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye that transmits images to the brain via the optic nerve—are a leading cause of blindness in the United States. More than 1.3 million Americans are legally blind, and 8 to 10 million people show signs of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD)-an incurable deterioration of the retina that has emerged as the primary cause of blindness in adults over the age of 55 in the U.S.

The five-year grant from the NEI, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will fund the work of researchers in the departments of pharmacology, ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at the medical school who are working in collaboration with the Retinal Therapeutics Study Group.

The research team's goal is to develop new drugs by evaluating existing drugs' effectiveness in treating AMD and other degenerative retinal diseases.

The team has already examined 24 FDA-approved drugs from antibiotics to cancer-fighting medications and found at least 16 that demonstrated the potential to limit the progression of retinal diseases.

The team includes researchers from the Cincinnati Drug Discovery Center, the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University.