UTMB ophthalmology chair awarded grant for groundbreaking research

Posted: December 2009

GALVESTON, Texas — Eye doctors may soon administer drugs into patients' eyes using pulsing light instead of needles. Groundbreaking research at The University of Texas Medical Branch department of ophthalmology and visual sciences has yielded promising results in laboratory tests, according to Dr. Bernard Godley, lead researcher and department chair.

A recently awarded $50,000 Texas Ignition Fund grant will help advance this unique research, said Godley, also a retinal specialist. The University of Texas System Board of Regents grant program is meant to accelerate the commercial application of products developed through research at UT campuses.

Millions of eye patients in the U.S. could benefit from the non-invasive method rather than receive shots in their eyes for treatment of infections, age-related macular degeneration and other problems, Godley said. The method also would be safer and more comfortable for eye patients, some of whom must receive monthly injections.

Godley described the procedure: "Drug molecules in a gelatin disk similar to a soft contact are activated using pulsing light. The molecules begin to flutter like a butterfly and move through the eye wall into the eye."

"It would be a breakthrough in the treatment of eye diseases," Godley said, adding that the grant comes at a critical time to advance funding and research discoveries for the project, titled “Photokinetic Ocular Drug Delivery."

The UTMB department of ophthalmology and visual sciences includes multi-specialty eye centers in Galveston and Friendswood, as well as the UTMB Age-related Macular Degeneration Center and the Ophthalmology Clinical Research Center, both located in Galveston.