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American Academy of Ophthalmology Announces $1 Million Donation from Dr. Charles R. and Judith G. Munnerlyn to Advance Eye Care

08/21/2012   08:00:00 AM

Gift will support laser-surgery education to assist ophthalmologists in improving global eye care

SAN FRANCISCO – The American Academy of Ophthalmology today announced a $1 million donation from Dr. Charles R. and Judith G. Munnerlyn that will be used in the Academy's efforts to advance laser surgery education for ophthalmologists around the world. This gift, which is one of the largest individual donations in the Academy's history, will establish the Dr. Charles R. and Judith G. Munnerlyn Laser Surgery Education Center and the Munnerlyn Endowment Fund that will be used to maintain it.

The goal of the web-based center that will be funded through the generosity of the Munnerlyns is to provide ophthalmologists with a central location for the most up-to-date and accurate information on advances in ophthalmic laser surgery. It will serve as a virtual skills transfer center that ophthalmologists can access anytime and anywhere. The center will focus on providing educational resources in basic science principles, advances in laser surgery technology, systems-based patient safety programs, and pre- and post-operative care and management.

Charles R. Munnerlyn, Ph.D. is recognized as a pioneer in translating laser science into ophthalmic applications. His work and dedication to ophthalmology, ophthalmologists and the patients they serve has transformed the profession. Dr. Munnerlyn's contributions are responsible for preserving the sight of millions of people around the world who have taken advantage of laser procedures in order to achieve dramatic improvements to their sight.

In order to ensure accessibility to the resources available through the Munnerlyn Center, its programs will be embedded within the Academy's Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE®) Network, a global learning enterprise that makes available the most critical, clinically relevant educational content to nearly all ophthalmologists in the United States and to ophthalmologists in over 140 countries around the world. Funded by the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the ONE Network currently serves more than 70,000 ophthalmologists worldwide, including 30,000 in developing countries.

The ONE Network educational platform provides the most up-to-date information within ophthalmology including standards of care, reviews of challenging clinical cases, videos of procedures and tools to assist eye medical doctors in achieving continuing medical education and maintenance of certification goals. The addition of the Munnerlyn Laser Surgery Education Center will complement the ONE Network's ophthalmic content with its focus on all aspects of the application of laser technology to ophthalmic surgery and procedures. It is expected to launch in 2013.

"The profession of ophthalmology will benefit significantly by the generosity of Charles and Judith Munnerlyn in providing the funding to advance laser science within eye care," said David W. Parke II, M.D, CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "The knowledge that will be created from these funds, combined with the technology to dispense it to ophthalmologists around the world will have a direct and immediate impact on the quality of care received by patients on a global basis."

Among Dr. Munnerlyn's contributions to ophthalmology is his work in developing the first autorefractor, a digital device used to automatically determine refractive errors in the eye. He also designed the first excimer laser for vision correction, and introduced what is now known as the Munnerlyn Formula. This mathematical formula, used by ophthalmologists all over the world, dictates the amount of corneal tissue to be removed by the laser to correct vision disorders such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Dr. Munnerlyn's contributions also include early work in the development of photocoagulation and pulse YAG laser systems for vision correction.

"The American Academy of Ophthalmology plays a critical, global role in the advancement of ophthalmic knowledge," said Dr. Munnerlyn. "This gift to the Academy supports our personal and lifelong commitment to improve the quality of life for people who suffer from visual impairment."

Dr. Munnerlyn currently serves on the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Advisory Board and the Optical Society of America Board. Previously, he founded and held the position of CEO at VISX, Incorporated (now Abbott Medical Optics). Dr. Munnerlyn received his Ph.D. in Optical Engineering from the University of Rochester, NY, which has honored him with a Distinguished Scholar Award. He is also a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M University.

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About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org. The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve their healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trustworthy and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.

About the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
Established in 1980, the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology raises financial support and implements programs that advance ophthalmic education resulting in the best possible eye care for the public. Funds raised by the Academy Foundation are used to develop new Academy educational products and services and to preserve the history of ophthalmology and that of the Academy. Since its inception, the Foundation has worked to advance ophthalmic education and provide better care for the public. More information can be found at www.faao.org.

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