The Mayo Clinic Department of Ophthalmology has a rich history of research in eye disease. The mentors of today’s clinicians and scientists were recognized national leaders who established a tradition of quality and integrity in vision research. This tradition continues today among the leaders of our current research staff and the next generation of vision scientists. The Department is involved in extensive ongoing research activities on the Rochester campus and also in investigations in conjunction with other major ophthalmology research centers.

Current research occurs at several levels. The Ophthalmology Department has laboratory-based research groups continually funded for decades by the National Institutes of Health and other supporters of eye research such as Research to Prevent Blindness. Our work in these laboratories is directed at delineating the physiology, cellular mechanisms and genetic control of normal ocular functions, such as the maintenance of corneal clarity, and diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. We expect that our research activities will translate into better therapies for these diseases and other conditions.

Our physicians and scientists are also involved in evaluating and improving the available surgical and non-surgical treatment for eye disease. For example, we are active in our investigations of new drugs for retinal disease. We are investing our efforts into analyzing corneal transplantation procedures and the surgical correction of near-sightedness. Many of our studies are done within a working partnership with medical industries developing new drugs or devices. Other studies are being conducted simultaneously with other leading ophthalmology centers around the country in an effort to define the best treatment of common eye conditions, including those affecting the developing visual system of children and macular degeneration in the elderly.

Another level of research has taken advantage of Mayo Clinic’s extensive medical record keeping system. We have undertaken a variety of comprehensive, retrospective studies in order to better understand the natural course of eye disease, the long-term outcomes of disease treatment and trends in the frequency of eye-related illness. With the involvement of Mayo colleagues specializing in epidemiology and biostatistics, we have added essential information to the core of knowledge required by eye care physicians to understand how eye disease affects patients and how treatment can improve the quality of life.