The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences delivers state-of-the art care to patients, participates in clinical research trials, and teaches the next generation of health care providers. Our comprehensive clinical services range from basic exams to specialty diagnosis and care for complex problems, including diabetic retinopathy, ocular melanoma, and blinding eye diseases.
We offer a full–range of ophthalmologic services including specialized adult and pediatric clinics in neuro-ophthalmology and genetics. Affordable genetic testing for inherited and rare eye diseases is available, including offering the most clinically relevant information to physicians, patients and families. We also offer convenient laser vision correction, a vision rehabilitation service as well as a contact lens clinic and optical shop.
UI Leads IIH Treatment Study
The causes and treatment of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) are not well understood, even as this condition afflicts a growing number of Americans. Now, University of Iowa neuro-ophthalmologists are leading a multi-center, National Eye Institute-funded study to establish evidence-based treatment strategies and identify the causes of IIH.
The IIH Treatment Trial is currently enrolling participants with papilledema due to IIH. The study compares the efficacy of the diuretic drug acetazolamide with placebo in reversing vision loss in patients who also receive weight loss counseling. Patients recently diagnosed with IIH who have vision loss are eligible to participate.
The study offers a weight loss and lifestyle counseling program and vision testing to all participants. Investigators will follow patients for up to four years, using cerebrospinal fluid pressure, visual field, and quality of life assessments.
A second aim of the study is to identify genetic and other risk factors for IIH. Investigators will focus particular attention on genes associated with obesity.
IIH typically occurs in women of child-bearing age who experience weight gain. Patients usually experience severe, daily headaches and most also have vision loss. Both medical and surgical treatments are available, but scientific evidence of their effectiveness is lacking. The IIH Treatment Trial addresses this gap in medical knowledge.
The IIH Treatment Trial is an initiative of the Neuro-Ophthalmology Research Disease Investigator Consortium (NORDIC). In addition to the UI, nearly 50 other sites collaborate in the study. The genetic research component is performed by the UI Institute for Vision Research’s Molecular Ophthalmology and Glaucoma Cell Biology Laboratories.
Our broad-based research efforts include collaborative projects with investigators across medicine and in biomedical and electrical engineering, computer science, education, liberal arts, public health, and law. We are home to investigators with world–renowned research programs in macular degeneration and the genetics of blinding eye diseases.
We successfully compete for grant funding from the NIH, Department of Veterans Affairs, private foundations, and individual donors.
Laboratories and Research Facilities
Glaucoma treatment and research have been a part of the Department since the 1950s when Mansour F. Armaly, MD, joined the faculty as the first glaucoma service director. Iowa's glaucoma genetics laboratory continues to investigate the molecular pathogenesis of the disease. Efforts in the lab led to grant funding by the National Institutes of Health to study the genetics and disease processes involved in glaucoma.
More recently, the University of Iowa Institute for Vision Research was created to accelerate the eradication of heritable human blindness through interdisciplinary research, education, and clinical care.
Recent Eye Research Highlights
UI ophthalmology researchers are investigating objective methods of testing visual dysfunction in patients with brain injuries or cognitive impairment. Randy Kardon, MD, PhD, professor and director of neuro-ophthalmology, leads the U.S. Department of Defense-funded study.
A team of researchers from the University of Iowa and Veterans Affairs led by Markus Kuehn, PhD, UI associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, recently published work on infusing stem cells to help restore proper drainage for fluid-clogged eyes at risk of glaucoma in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
James Folk, MD, and Elliott Sohn, MD, have published a study of treatment for intraocular inflammation that may lead to a new clinical trial. The data in this study suggest that peripheral retinal cryoablation therapy is an effective treatment for active pars planitis and may be better than conventional regional corticosteroid injections and oral corticosteroid therapy for induction of remission.
University of Iowa retinal specialists are leading the first randomized, controlled phase 3 gene therapy trial involving patients with RPE65 mutation-associated inherited retinal dystrophies.
Researchers at the University of Iowa Institute for Vision Research announced at the end of 2015 discovery of a gene that controls the development of the human macula. According to the UI's Ed Stone, MD, PhD, this discovery will help researchers learn how nature builds a macula so that future scientists can reconstruct an injured macula. The macula is the central portion of the retina needed for normal reading and driving vision.