UIC researcher gets grant to develop artificial cornea

Cornea specialist, Dr. Charles Yu, receives funding to take the artificial cornea to the next level

Charles Yu, MDEversight, a global non-profit network of eye banks, awarded a $15,000 Eye and Vision Research Grant on July 1 to the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary’s Dr. Charles Yu.

Yu was among nine recipients who received grants from Eversight for projects that aligned with the organization’s mission to restore sight and prevent blindness. The awards were determined by an independent review panel composed of distinguished scientists, ophthalmologists and health services researchers.

Yu, assistant professor of ophthalmology in the UIC College of Medicine, is working to develop an advanced artificial cornea, a keratoprosthesis, often used when a corneal transplant is not possible because of a prior rejection, or excessive ocular damage.

Currently, a keratoprosthesis operation requires a three-piece plastic device sandwiched around a donor cornea and sutured into the eye of the patient. While it offers short term visual improvements, patients often lose vision due to complications like membrane formation around the device.

Yu’s one-piece keratoprosthesis requires a smaller incision resulting in faster patient recovery and does not require the use of donor tissue like existing devices. If successful, this artificial cornea could become available for human clinical trials and eventually used for curing corneal blindness.

The Eye and Vision Research Grant program has awarded more than $3 million to stimulate new and pioneering research since 1980. Several of these grants have led to larger studies and significant financial support from the National Institutes of Health.

“There is a real and profound void when it comes to funding the initial investigative work that can yield important discoveries,” said Eversight Research Director Gregory Grossman. “Today’s advances in ocular health are the result of institutions like Eversight who are willing to support new but often untested inquiry. We are committed to providing preliminary funding to launch new and potentially ground-breaking research.”

The grants are part of the Eversight Center for Eye and Vision Research, one of the only eye bank-led programs focused on providing scientists with innovative resources they need to find new cures and treatments for blinding eye conditions. For more information, visit eversightvision.org/research.

[from the UIC Science Blog]