• IRIS Registry Data Analysis

  • Research to Prevent Blindness and American Academy of Ophthalmology Award for IRIS Registry Research

    Research to Prevent Blindness funded four IRIS® Registry research grants in 2020 in a program co-sponsored by the Academy. 

    The grants support use of the database and its analytic capabilities to further population-based research in ophthalmology and blindness prevention. You can find and submit the grant application online. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31.


    RPB and the Academy announced the four studies that were selected for the fourth round of IRIS Registry Research awards.

    • Prethy Rao, MD, assistant professor, Emory University. Most adults who undergo a pars plana vitrectomy will later develop cataracts, but what about children? Dr. Rao will use the IRIS Registry to evaluate the rate at which children require cataract surgery following vitrectomy. This real-world evidence will help ophthalmologists counsel patients and their families regarding future expectations, as well as help coordinate future care among different subspecialties.
    • Adam Rothman, MD, assistant professor, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami. Evidence shows that cataract surgery alone can significantly reduce intraocular pressure, but which patients best respond to this intervention? Dr. Rothman will leverage the IRIS Registry to conduct a large-scale, population-based study to help understand the IOP-lowering effect of cataract surgery based on a patient’s age, race/ethnicities, co-morbidities, whether they have glaucoma, etc. This research will provide ophthalmologists with critical insight into the best surgical options for their patients with glaucoma or those at-risk of glaucoma.
    • Karen Armbrust, MD, ophthalmologist, University of Minnesota. As a rare disease, there are a lot of unknowns about how best to diagnose and treat scleritis. Dr. Armbrust will use the IRIS Registry to evaluate which treatment options are most effective in patients with different types of scleritis. This research will also help ophthalmologists determine which patients are at higher risk for worse outcomes from this potentially devastating disease and require more treatment and closer monitoring.
    • Fasika Woreta, MD, assistant professor, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University. Cystoid macular edema (CME) is the most common complication following cataract surgery. However, the rate of CME varies widely across clinical studies. Dr. Woreta will use the IRIS Registry to quantify the real-world rate of CME, to identify factors associated with the development of vision loss due to CME, as well as best practices for treating this condition.


    In 2019, four clinical researchers were selected based on the potential of their original research to advance the Academy’s mission of improving patients’ lives through research and innovation:

    Rishi Singh, MD, Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic, assistant professor of ophthalmology, Lerner College of Medicine. Even though there are effective treatments for diabetic macular edema, there remains a disparity in outcomes among minority populations. What can ophthalmologists do to help close that gap? Dr. Singh will use IRIS Registry data to better understand differences in the selection and frequency of treatment among patients of different races, socioeconomic status, and education levels, as well as how visual outcomes differ among those groups.

    Thomas M. Lietman, MD, professor, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Viral conjunctivitis is the most common cause of pink eye. It’s also very contagious. Dr. Lietman will use IRIS Registry data to better detect, track, and predict pink eye epidemics in the United States.

    Jennifer Elizabeth Thorne, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Uveitis can often complicate cataract surgery. Dr. Thorne will investigate whether uveitis patients have worse surgical and visual outcomes compared with cataract patients without uveitis. She will use IRIS Registry data to understand the factors that contribute to better and worse visual outcomes in people who have uveitis, including whether it’s beneficial to use corticosteroids to prevent surgical complications.

    Subhash Aryal, Ph.D., associate professor, biostatistics & epidemiology, UNT Health Science Center. What causes central serous chorioretinopathy and what’s the best treatment? Current research is based on studies that are too small or poorly constructed to provide good answers. While most people regain their vision without treatment, about 5 percent suffer permanent vision loss. Dr. Aryal will use IRIS Registry data to learn which of the three main treatment options offer the best results for this blinding condition.


    In 2018, four clinical researchers were selected based on the potential of their original research to advance the Academy’s mission of improving patients’ lives through research and innovation:

    Xueya Cai, Ph.D., research associate professor, University of Rochester School of Medicine & DentistryNearsightedness and farsightedness in children and young adults is on the rise. Dr. Cai will use the IRIS Registry database to examine what might be behind the increase. Dr. Cai will also look for new factors that could influence how these vision problems progress.

    Sapna Gangaputra, MD, MPH, assistant professor, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Pediatric uveitis is a rare disease in the United States. It would be difficult and expensive to conduct a clinical trial to answer key questions about this potentially blinding disease. Dr. Gangaputra will use the IRIS Registry to learn how best to treat children with uveitis.

    Jay Stewart, MD, professor, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Dr. Stewart will use the IRIS Registry to examine whether a common diabetes medication, metformin, can reduce the incidence or slowdown the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Because inflammation is believed to play a role in AMD, the anti-inflammatory effects of metformin may be beneficial.

    Elizabeth Vanner, Ph.D., scientist/biostatistician, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Ophthalmologists and their patients had hoped the landmark Tube Versus Trabeculectomy trial would settle the question of which surgical option is preferred for glaucoma: trabeculectomy or tubes and shunts. Dr. Vanner will use the IRIS Registry to gain more insight into the best treatment.

    How it Works 

    • Research to Prevent Blindness will fund four studies. Each grant is worth $35,000, with the selected investigators receiving $10,000 each for their institution for direct research funds.
    • Grant recipients will visit the Academy office in San Francisco to learn about IRIS Registry data. This Academy training will be of tremendous value to recipients as they work collaboratively, ask questions and learn alongside and from other awardees, discovering interpretations and analyses of the data. The training will also be useful afterwards, when they continue to work on their own projects.
    • Based on the study design, IRIS Registry staff will provide a subset of data for the grant recipient’s analysis. IRIS Registry staff are available for phone questions, conference calls and support after the training session and throughout the two-year award period.

    Eligibility Requirements 

    • Applicants should be employed by a research institution and must have relevant analytics experience (statistical background, experience with big-data analytics, knowledge of SAS or other statistical program).
    • The research question should be clinically significant and align with the Academy’s mission to protect sight and empower lives.

    Application Process


    • Summary of investigator’s relevant experience (statistical background, experience with big data analytics, knowledge of SAS or other statistical program)
    • Research question / hypothesis
    • Specific aims, background / rationale, and clinical significance
    • Alignment with Academy’s mission: protect sight and empower lives
    • IRIS Registry data elements and time period needed for analysis

    How to apply

    Fill out the brief questionnaire and submit before Jan. 31.

    Evaluation criteria

    • Significance: Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?
    • Investigator: Is the candidate well suited to the project and does the candidate have appropriate experience and training?
    • Innovation: Is this a unique research question for the IRIS Registry?
    • Approach: Are the overall strategy, methodology and analyses well-reasoned, and is the project feasible?
    • Environment: Are the institutional support and other resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed?


    The IRIS Registry Analytics Committee will review applications and select a slate of potential nominees for Research to Prevent Blindness to review and approve. Selected investigators will be notified in July 2020 with studies to begin shortly afterwards.

    For questions or more information about the RPB and Academy grant, contact 415.561.8592.