Anthony M. Norcia, Ph.D., a Senior Scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco has been presented with a Walt and Lilly Disney Award for Amblyopia Research by Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). The Walt and Lilly Disney Award program was created to promote research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of amblyopia, a leading cause of childhood visual impairment.
Dr. Norcia is a pioneer in the fields of visual development, brain imaging and brainwave recording. For this award, he will apply these sophisticated techniques to understand how the competitive interaction between the dominant "normal" eye and the amblyopic eye contributes to suppressing the vision in the amblyopic eye when both eyes are viewing. Assessment of the amblyopic eye while both eyes are viewing instead of testing the amblyopic eye alone is a novel approach. Non-invasive neural recording of brain responses from each eye will reveal the mechanism of amblyopic suppression in the human visual cortex. Using newly developed brain imaging methods, he will track where in the brain and how signals from the amblyopic eye are eliminated through the process of suppression. Understanding amblyopic suppression may be the key to preserving the hard-won benefits of extensive patching therapy -the most common clinical treatment for amblyopia. These non-invasive tools can also be applied to infants with amblyopia.
Dr. Arthur Jampolsky, Founding Director of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute said: "Dr. Norcia has made many outstanding contributions to the field of vision research over his long career. The Walt and Lilly Disney Award for Amblyopia Research will allow him to pursue a novel set of ideas about the critical importance for binocular vision of balancing the input from the two eyes. To complement this award, the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute has set up a new, dedicated laboratory facility where this important research will be conducted."
The RPB Walt and Lilly Disney Award for Amblyopia Research was established in 2002 and will fund research on amblyopia through 2011. RPB is the world's leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions for research into the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding eye diseases.
More information is available on the vision research efforts of Dr. Norcia and others at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute at www.ski.org. For more information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to www.rpbusa.org