Prizewinning glaucoma breakthrough
5 September 2005
Dr M Francesca Cordeiro (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology) has been awarded the 2005 Lewis Rudin Prize in Glaucoma for her pioneering research on imaging retinal nerve cells.
Established in 1995 and funded by the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, the $50,000 prize is awarded by The New York Academy of Medicine for the most outstanding glaucoma work published during the previous year.
Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases that cause irreversible loss of vision, often without warning or symptoms. This is caused by damage to the optic nerve, which is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain. It is estimated that around 65 million people worldwide have glaucoma.
The Ophthalmology research team, led by Dr Cordeiro, were able for the first time to image changes occurring in retinal nerve cells apoptosing - a process of cell suicide - over hours, days and months. This will potentially provide a new clinical tool with which to diagnose and identify patients with glaucoma before they lose vision. Dr Cordeiro hopes that an apoptotic index of cell degeneration can be created, with which patients can be diagnosed and monitored to assess treatment response or progression rates. This tool may avoid visual loss occurring in the first place.
Dr Cordeiro said: "I am absolutely delighted with the award and really excited that this work has been recognised. The problem with doing something completely different, is that sometimes it is difficult to convince people because it is so new. The award really affirms the fact that glaucoma specialists see this as an advance in the management of this increasingly pervasive blinding disease."