UTMB ophthalmology chair awarded grant for groundbreaking research

Posted: May 2011

GALVESTON, Texas - Eye doctors may soon administer drugs into patients' eyes using pulsing light instead of needles. Groundbreaking research at UTMB's 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 grant from the OneSight Research Foundation will continue to advance this unique research that could dramatically improve eye care, said Godley, also a retinal specialist. OneSight, a Luxottica Foundation, is a family of charitable vision care programs dedicated to improving vision through outreach, research and education.

Millions of eye patients in the U.S. could benefit from this non-invasive method. As opposed to injecting medicines for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, infections, age-related macular degeneration and other problems, Godley said this method 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 funds the crucial next step to determine what pulse, wavelength and duration are optimal for various drug molecules. The research project is titled "Photokinetic Ocular Drug Delivery."

"This represents an important waypoint in the journey toward human trials and, ultimately, everyday use to treat patients."

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. More information is available at www.UTMBeyecenter.com.