Dr. Yvonne Ou of the University of California, San Francisco explains the importance of glaucoma research in helping save sight for millions around the world.
My name is Yvonne Ou. I am Associate Professor of Ophthalmology in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCSF, where I'm also the Co-Director of the Glaucoma Division and the Vice Chair for Postgraduate Education.
When I was first funded by BrightFocus Foundation, I was really interested in trying to understand the earliest changes in the retina with glaucoma, and one of those changes that I wanted to focus on was at the retinal synapse, which is the connections between two neurons. And I think that at the time, you know, I had some early hints that the synapses might be important — that they might be disconnecting early on in a disease, but I didn't yet have the full story or the full picture yet, and the BrightFocus funding really allowed our lab develop that story, and actually if you look at all of the subsequent projects that our lab has now expanded into, which has gone in a lot of different directions — that kind of first kernel that BrightFocus believed in I think has really blossomed, and you can find that thread throughout all of the work that our lab is doing.
BrightFocus played a major role at a critical point in my career. The foundation provided the resources so that I could develop my research program and generate the preliminary data that was needed in order to compete successfully for National Eye Institute/National Institutes of Health funding. Problems that we identify in the retina and novel strategies for treatment that we identify in the retina could easily potentially be applied to neurodegenerative disease of the brain and vice versa.
Being able to develop better methods to screen and diagnose glaucoma I think could have real impact on our society as the whole. Knowing that I could play a role in saving a patient's sight in the future is really what motivates me both as an ophthalmologist, as a surgeon, and also as a scientist. I'd like to thank all the donors and BrightFocus Foundation because it really just plays such a critical important role in a scientist's career to be able to develop these new ideas that hopefully will have a major impact on patient's lives and on their vision, and it's just I feel honored to be part of this BrightFocus community, and to be feeling like you're part of this really important mission. It's just really inspiring and I am just filled with gratitude.
This content was last updated on: June 18, 2020