The Eye Defects Research Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1994 with the intention of conducting research and providing financial support for a group of children with rare eye defects leading to pediatric blindness. In addition to stimulating research, the Foundation has supported seven international conferences on Genetic Disease and the Eye, in order to educate physicians in the treatment of these rare disorders. Over the past ten years, we have performed pediatric corneal transplants on over 100 children from ten different countries and provided financial support for costly anti-rejection medication. In 2008 we made a ground-breaking surgical advance by supporting an artificial pediatric corneal transplant or keratoprosthesis.
We have also been actively involved in molecular genetic research to uncover molecular defects, in order to ultimately treat corneal diseases using gene therapy. For one such disease, keratoconusѡ disease that starts in the teens and is the most common cause of corneal transplants in the Western worldѯver the past fifteen years we have received over $10 million dollars in research funding from the federal government. Our research group identified the first molecular defect ever described for this disease. This finding could possibly lead to a molecular genetic test for keratoconus, and ultimately gene therapy to prevent the progression of keratoconus. Our research has proved to be so promising that in 2008 we received a commitment of over $3.5 million dollars from the federal government to pursue this line of research.
With exciting new advances and possibilities brought about by innovative progress in stem cell therapy, we are focusing heavily on this avenue of research. Our aim is not only to support stem cell therapy for pediatric blinding eye diseases, but also macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in adults over age seventy.
These are exciting times, and with your help there is hope that treatment for blinding eye diseases can become a reality. Please support our Foundation and help us discover cures that will enhance the quality of the lives of those less fortunate than us.
Yaron S. Rabinowitz M.D.
Founder and Medical Director
The Eye Defects Research Foundation