Posted by Dr. Rohit Varma
We continue to be excited about our collaboration with Dr. Rohit Varma, who recently joined us to form a new Southern California Eyecare and Vision Research Institute (SCEVRI) to provide specialized and comprehensive eye care to the diverse communities in Southern California, and to conduct world class research in collaboration with CHA Health Systems’s leading edge stem cell research platform.
An accomplished physician-scientist, Dr. Varma is recognized worldwide as a visionary leader in glaucoma and the epidemiology of eye diseases. He is an expert on changes in the optic nerve in glaucoma and is also studying new imaging techniques in the early diagnosis of glaucomatous optic nerve damage. His primary research focuses on epidemiologic studies of eye disease in children and aging populations.
As a founding director of the new research institute, Dr. Varma will lead vision research in diverse communities and vulnerable populations — using big data and artificial intelligence to develop novel therapies, stem cell and regenerative therapies both in the U.S. and overseas — to ultimately improve patients’ eye health.
High Prevalence of Eye Disease in U.S.
According to the most recent research, Southern California has a high incidence of eye disease which is underdiagnosed and undertreated. The number of individuals with visual impairment (VI) and blindness is increasing in California and the United States as a result of shifting demographics, aging populations, and high incidence of diabetes. Research published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) projected African American individuals experience the highest prevalence of visual impairment and blindness. By 2050, the highest prevalence of VI among minorities will shift from African American individuals (15.2% in 2015 to 16.3% in 2050) to Hispanic individuals (9.9% in 2015 to 20.3% in 2050). Multiracial Americans and Hispanic whites in California will remain the largest demographic group with visual impairment between the years 2015-2060.1
Improved Eye Health Outcomes Through research
Eye institute will make rapid advances in science and technology — from stem cells to novel glaucoma devices to artificial retinas. Institute will aim to understand, prevent, and create innovative treatments to manage diseases that lead to vision loss and blindness, making hope visible for our patients through innovative research and evidence-based eye care. Our innovative research and eye care will focus on developing new ways to change the lives of our patients by ending vision loss and blindness.
Varma R, Vajaranant TS, Burkemper B, Wu S, Torres M, Hsu C, Choudhury F, McKean-Cowdin R. Visual Impairment and Blindness in Adults in the United States: Demographic and Geographic Variations from 2015 to 2050. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(7):802-809. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.1284