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$2M Gift Will Support Childhood Eye Research

It comes from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation.

SAN FRANCISCO and CHICAGO -- The American Academy of Ophthalmology announced a $2 million gift from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to establish a permanent research fund to advance the practice of pediatric ophthalmology.

The fund will be used to support the work of researchers investigating both rare and common eye diseases affecting children and to develop new approaches to prevention and treatment, according to a press release. The announcement was made at AAO 2018, the 122nd annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Insights for these projects will be gleaned from the academy's IRIS Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight), the world's largest clinical specialty data registry. The academy developed the IRIS Registry to "provide insights on eye disease and to empower ophthalmologists to effectively improve their practices and their patients' lives," according to the release.

Having amassed data on 50 million patients in just four years, the resource "has already improved the quality of eye care for adult patients," according to the release. KTEF expects the gift to the Academy Foundation to extend the power of the IRIS Registry to serve the needs of children as it has adults.

The fund will enable the Academy's IRIS Registry team to enhance the capture of data collected on pediatric patients to reveal patient characteristics associated with disease and better approaches to their prevention and treatment. The IRIS Registry team will also focus on attracting more pediatric ophthalmologists to contribute to the database, further enhancing the power of its data-driven insights.

The IRIS Registry will also be used to drive individualized learning for pediatric ophthalmologists, providing them with information on their performance, outcomes of treatment, and adherence to best practices. It will also connect ophthalmologists to an online tool offering the best educational resources in pediatric ophthalmology.

"This grant is an extraordinary gift for ophthalmology," said David W. Parke II, MD, CEO for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "It will build upon the strengths of the world's largest clinical data registry to drive insights on children's eye health. I have no doubt that it will improve the care of individual children. The Knights Templar Eye Foundation is a tremendous partner for our profession and our patients."


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