About the Department

The Department of Ophthalmology-Research at Mayo Clinic 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 the Department of Ophthalmology-Research and the next generation of vision scientists.

Physician-scientists in the department engage in extensive research activities and collaborate on investigations with other major ophthalmology research centers.

Research in the Department of Ophthalmology-Research occurs at several levels:

  • Laboratory-based research
  • Eye disease treatment
  • Retrospective studies

Laboratory-based eye research

The research section of the Department of Ophthalmology-Research has laboratory-based research groups that have been funded for decades by the National Institutes of Health and other supporters of eye research, such as Research to Prevent Blindness.

Research work in these laboratories is directed at delineating the physiology, cellular mechanisms and genetic control of both normal ocular functions, such as the maintenance of corneal clarity, and eye and vision diseases, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Research activities translate into better therapies for patients with these diseases and other eye and vision conditions.

Improving treatments for eye disease

Physicians and scientists in the department are also investigating methods to improve surgical and nonsurgical treatment of eye disease.

Researchers are pursuing the development of new drugs for retinal disease and analyzing methods to improve corneal transplantation procedures and the surgical correction of nearsightedness.

Many studies in the Department of Ophthalmology-Research are done within a working partnership with medical industries developing new drugs or devices. Some studies are conducted simultaneously with other leading ophthalmology centers around the United States 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 older adults.

Retrospective studies with medical records

Another level of research leverages Mayo Clinic's extensive medical record-keeping system.

The department's researchers 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 Clinic colleagues specializing in epidemiology and biostatistics, the Department of Ophthalmology-Research has 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.

Department leadership

  • Sanjay V. Patel, M.D., is chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Patel, a corneal specialist and corneal transplant surgeon, is a professor of ophthalmology in the College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota.
  • Michael P. Fautsch, Ph.D., is research chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Fautsch is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and ophthalmology in the College of Medicine and Science in Rochester.