Vision Research Group
A sharp focus on vision research:
Researchers at Dalhousie Medical School are heading Canada’s largest clinical glaucoma study, while studying how the disease develops in one of the world’s leading vision labs. About 10,000 Nova Scotians have glaucoma – a degenerative disease of the optic nerve that causes loss of peripheral vision over time – but as many as half don’t yet know it.
“There are no symptoms in the early stages,” explains Dr. Balwantray Chauhan, Dalhousie Medical School’s Chair of Vision Research and lead researcher of the Canadian Glaucoma Study. “We are trying to identify the risk factors so we can diagnose – and begin treatment to slow progression of the disease – earlier.” The study is revealing a host of risk factors beyond increased eye pressure, which is currently the only risk factor that can be treated. “We want to find new targets for treatment, because not everyone’s glaucoma responds to controlling their eye pressure.”
Meanwhile, the five researchers in the Retina and Optic Nerve Research Lab – Dr. Steven Barnes, Dr. Melanie Kelly, Dr. Francois Tremblay, Dr. Bill Baldridge and Dr. Chauhan – are studying how the retina functions in health and disease. The five seek to identify the underlying causes of a host of low-vision and blinding conditions, including how and why the optic nerve becomes damaged over time in glaucoma.
The Retina and Optic Nerve Research Lab brings together leading vision researchers from across Canada in a unique multi-disciplinary collaboration that ranges from basic science to clinical research. Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation made the first commitment to the new lab in 1998, providing $1.1 million. This cornerstone funding enabled Dalhousie to secure additional funds for infrastructure and capital costs, with individual researcher’s grants providing the operating funds.