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New Vision Research Institute Positions MCO as Prominent Entity in Vision Research

Craig NormanThe Vision Research Institute in the Michigan College of Optometry is dedicated to the creation, development and testing of products and procedures for vision correction.

The VRI, established in February, focuses on internal- and external-sponsored research to enhance faculty and student opportunities to learn and be published in the field of optometry.

One of the initial studies undertaken was a 20-patient pilot study on multifocal and bifocal contact lenses. Doctor of Optometry intern Trevor Fosso, of Pennock, Minn., was awarded a Student Research Fellowship by the Office of Academic Research to spend his summer on the project.

Trevor worked closely with MCO’s Dr. Amy Dinardo to recruit subjects whose experience wearing contact lenses had “met their expectations for success” and then evaluated them to document the common factors in that success. The results are expected to be presented at the Global Specialty Lens Symposium in Las Vegas in January.

Other projects center on the use of scleral lenses, which are contact lenses that provide comfortable and accurate vision for individuals with corneal disease and dry eye issues. VRI research optometrists are developing a proprietary lens design in this category, while also designing a method to help novice and student optometrists learn from and improve scleral lens analysis skills.

These research advancements help to position MCO as a new and prominent entity in vision research.

The institute also is involved in industry-sponsored research projects. With a stated goal of “being a partner in product development,” the VRI is working closely with numerous eye care companies to aid their efforts in developing products and getting them to market.

We are looking at some very novel and innovative bifocal contact lens designs for the correction of presbyopia as well as devices for optical correction after ocular injury or disease. These are very promising technologies for patients.

Another area of interest has been the evaluation of Google Glass before it becomes commercially available to the public. Dr. Bruce Morgan and I believed that this technology should be tested by us, so the VRI offered to purchase the unique eyewear for the first optometry student accepted as a Glass Explorer. Subsequently, MCO second-year intern Elyse Kleifgen was chosen for Google’s program, and since then the first eye exam employing Glass was performed here. We are investigating its use for teaching purposes as well.

The Vision Research Institute is a very exciting development for Ferris State University. Dr. David Damari, dean of the Michigan College of Optometry, shared this comment:

“The opportunities that this institute will provide for our faculty, students and staff, its ability to develop our position as a strong center of scientific inquiry in the field of optometry and the partnerships we can establish in the field will continue to build on the excellent reputation of Ferris and the Michigan College of Optometry. I am extremely pleased by the VRI’s efforts to find ways to increase research opportunities here at Ferris.”

If you’re interested in becoming involved in one of the studies or for further information about the VRI, please email me at [email protected].

This story written by Craig Norman, director of the Vision Research Institute in the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University. This story was featured in Fall 2013 edition of "Ferris Magazine."