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Kentucky College of Optometry research team selected for national retreat

May 05, 2016 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
Faculty members of the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry participated in the American Academy of Optometry’s Fellows Doing Research 2016 Training Retreat in March. The research team consisted of Eilene Kinzer, O.D., Cliff Caudill, O.D., Ian McWherter, O.D., and Donnie Akers, O.D., and represented one of four teams selected nationally. The mission of the retreat was to advance the ocular health of the public by assisting Fellows of the American Academy of Optometry in conducting multi-centered clinical research.

“Their selection by this prestigious organization is recognition of the impact our Kentucky College of Optometry will have on the citizens of Appalachia,” said Andrew Buzzelli, O.D., M.S., FAAO, vice president for optometric education and founding dean of the Kentucky College of Optometry. “The Center for Disease Control has identified our region as one having the highest concentrations of blindness due to secondary factors such as diabetes and hypertension in America. Our research teams will be the vanguard in reversing this devastating vision loss in our area.”

The team’s proposed research is aimed towards utilizing new technology to determine the likelihood of progression of diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that affects vision in diabetic patients in addition to correlating the findings to known risk factors, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. The impact of this research is to determine predictors for the occurrence and progression of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy in patients with diabetes changing patient care in the aspects of education about risk, referrals to dieticians, better communication with the patient’s primary care provider and informed follow-up protocols. This information will allow for earlier intervention and better clinical outcomes to help improve the quality of life for the patient. Not only will this research further understanding of the anatomical and physiological changes that occur prior to patients developing retinopathy, but also further knowledge of early stages of retinopathy and how it progresses.

The Kentucky College of Optometry is the fourth college under the University of Pikeville banner and reflects the institution’s mission of service and strategic initiatives. The American Council for Optometric Education has granted the Kentucky College of Optometry the pre-accreditation classification of “Preliminary Approval.” The University of Pikeville is the 22nd school in the country to have a college of optometry. Construction has begun on a new educational facility to house the Kentucky College of Optometry. Sixty students will be admitted per class for a total of 240. The university expects to provide for the underserved in Central Appalachia and other rural areas of the country.

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