Thanks to all who participated in the 50th anniversary of the Ohio LIONS Eye Research Foundation and a special thanks to all the past OLERF trustees that were able to attend the celebrations. Over the past 50 years, through the generous support of every lion member and every LIONS club in Ohio, the research foundation has awarded over $4,000,000 in research grants and fellowships to eye research institutions throughout Ohio.
During the OLERF 50th anniversary celebrations, investigators from several of the OLERF funded institutions discussed major breakthroughs in eye research and in eye care made possible through OLERF funding. One of the first projects funded by OLERF was for the purchase of a piece of equipment for the accurate measurement of oxygen in premature infant bassenettes – work that contributed to better understanding of the role oxygen played in the development of Retrolental Fibroplasia (RLF), a condition now known as Retinopathy of Prematurely (ROP). This work helped in the understanding that too much oxygen can cause blindness in premature infants. By reducing the amount of oxygen delivered to premature infants, the number of blind children was greatly reduced in the late 50s and 1960s.
Pioneering work was undertaken in the development of “RADAR” in ophthalmology during the early 1950s at Case Western University. This work lead to the development of ultrasound – a technique that allows the eye doctor to “see” inside the eye, even if a patient has a dense cataract or hemorrhage in the eye. It is now possible to have ultrasound equipment in almost every eye doctor’s office in the country.
Early pioneering work also contributed to the development of gas permeable contact lenses as well as equipment to measure intraocular pressure in the early 1960s (College of Optometry, OSU), better treatment of diabetic retinopathy and improved procedures for corneal transplant surgery (Dept. of Ophthalmology, OSU), and potential drug therapies for amblyopic children (Department of Ophthalmology, Columbus Children’s Hospital), to name a few.
Research and progress in medicine is slow and, often, progress is measured in small steps. Today, the Ohio LIONS fund studies in a host of diverse fields from molecular biology to functional imaging – the ability to see what parts of the brain are in use at any given time. No one knows when or where the next great breakthroughs in eye care will take place, but one thing is certain – the Ohio LIONS Eye Research Foundation will make such breakthroughs possible through funding pilot studies. Our children and our children’s children will benefit from our hard work as part of being an Ohio LIONS member.