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  • Funding Awarded to Ophthalmologists Using Big Data to Improve Patient Care

    Private practice physicians to use the Academy's IRIS Registry database for eye disease research

    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The American Academy of Ophthalmology today announced recipients of the 2021 Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc. Pediatric Ophthalmology Fund and the H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, Center for Quality Eye Care IRIS® Registry Research Fund, two funds developed to support vision research using big data.

    The Knights Templar Eye Foundation Pediatric Ophthalmology Fund supports research investigating prevention and treatment of both rare and common eye diseases in children. The H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, Fund supports Academy members in private practice who want to answer clinical questions that can help improve patient care. The goal of both funds is to support Academy members in private practice who want to harness the power of the Academy’s IRIS® Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight) to advance patient care.

    The IRIS Registry is the world’s largest clinical specialty data registry, having amassed data on 60 million patients in just over six years. The Academy developed the IRIS Registry to provide insights on eye disease, and to empower ophthalmologists to effectively improve their practices and their patients’ lives.

    Winners of the H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, Center for Quality Eye Care IRIS® Registry Research Fund are:

    Murtaza Adam, MD, Colorado Retina Associates. Two years ago, the FDA approved an alternative treatment to daily medicated eye drops for glaucoma – an implant inserted into the eye that slowly releases medication over a few months. The implant is an exciting option for some patients who have trouble sticking to a daily eye drop routine. But will it result in an increased risk of a rare, but vision-threatening eye infection called endophthalmitis? Dr. Adams will evaluate the endophthalmitis risk in patients who received this implant.

    Ferhina Ali, MD, Sierra Eye Associates. Studies show anti-VEGF injections can stabilize or restore vision in patients with retinal diseases. But clinical trial participants may not reflect the real-world population. Dr. Ali will assess the long-term outcomes, potential risk factors, and treatment burden among people of different demographics.

    Priya Mathews MD, Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute. There are so many new treatments for severe keratoconus and endothelial disease that penetrating keratoplasty is now reserved for the most severe cases. Dr. Mathews will use the IRIS Registry data to identify current treatment patterns for penetrating keratoplasty, as well as the outcomes, and complications surgery.

    Alia Durrani, MD, The Retina Institute of St. Louis. Many studies have evaluated the rate of endophthalmitis after intravitreal injections, but there aren’t any national, multi-center investigations of infection rates. Dr. Durrani will evaluate IRIS Registry data to better define risk factors for endophthalmitis, as well as treatment patterns and visual outcomes.

    Winners of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc. Pediatric Fund are:

    Konstantin Astafurov, MD, New Jersey Retina. Macular holes occur rarely in children. Dr. Astafurov will assess the difference in visual outcomes in patients treated with vitreoretinal surgery compared with observation.

    Peter Belin, MD, VitreoRetinal Surgery PA. The use of anti-VEGF injections for retinal conditions in children’s eyes is not well-studied. Dr. Belin will evaluate outcomes in children with different types of retinal conditions treated with anti-VEGFs. 

    William Johnson, MD, Tift Regional Ophthalmology. Are children living in rural areas at an increased risk of vision loss from amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, because they have less access to timely treatment? Dr. Johnson will evaluate disparities in access to eye care and treatment among children living in rural areas compared with cities.

    About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit