The Retina Research & Development Foundation was established in 1969 to provide a voluntary, nonprofit base of support for research in the field of vitreoretinal disease and surgery.
Over the last 40 years, this fund has been a tremendous resource for medical advancements in a highly specialized area of medicine. For example, RRDF has contributed to the development of new surgical instrumentation such as intraocular picks and forceps for performing surgery under the retina, thereby ushering in a whole new era of submacular surgery and leading to a 7-year NEI-funded national prospective clinical trial aimed at treating age- related macular degeneration. The funds from RRDF have also provided support for a coagulator to control intraocular bleeding, revolutionizing a surgeon’s ability to operate on hemorrhaging diabetic eyes.
More recently RRDF has funded research on a “bloodless” knife for cutting ocular tissue while simultaneously creating hemostasis. This has shown promise in animal studies and has entered FDA phase I clinical trials. The fund has also supported research directed toward reducing complications of vitrectomy surgery, evaluating new therapies for age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, and introducing new diagnostic instrumentation into the new diagnostic instrumentation into the practice of retina.
Finally,funds from the Retina Research & Development Foundation have been used to support the publication of over 100 scientific articles in professional ophthalmology journals, thereby contributing to the dissemination of new
information worldwide. Education of physicians is an ongoing priority for the foundation. RRDF has contributed to the training of nearly 100 Fellows who now practice vitreoretinal surgery throughout the United States and in other countries.
In 1984, the RRDF Lecture Series was established to provide an Annual Visiting Professor Lecture. Over the last 25 years this venture has brought leaders in the field of retinal diseases and surgery to St. Louis for the purpose of educating local doctors. Recent lectures have focused on successful gene therapy for restoring eye sight to blind briard dogs with the hopes of one day providing the same benefit to humans. Another recent lecture was given by a pioneer in artificial vision who hopes to restore some sight to individuals blinded by retinitis pigmentosa using electrodes planted within the eye.
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