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The Cure is in Sight Campaign Priorities

Our Bold Vision: A Future Free from Glaucoma

Vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible. Currently there is no cure and everyone is at risk for developing this blinding disease. With the aging population expanding so rapidly, a worldwide epidemic is looming. It is predicted that 80 million people around the globe will have glaucoma by 2020. If we act now, we have the potential to preserve sight and change lives.

The time for our bold vision is now. For this reason, we launched The Cure is in Sight: The Campaign for Glaucoma Research Foundation in 2014. Thanks to more than 15,000 contributions, we exceeded our campaign goal of $15 million. To keep this incredible momentum going and help raise funds to support the next Catalyst for a Cure consortium, we have extended the Campaign to raise $25 million by 2020.

This important fundraising endeavor will reinforce our mission, strengthen education and awareness efforts, and make possible great strides in scientific discovery. Since this is a comprehensive campaign, each and every gift donated will count toward our new and ambitious goal of $25 million.

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Our Campaign Priorities

  1. Catalyst for a Cure Biomarker Initiative
  2. Shaffer Grants for Innovative Glaucoma Research
  3. Glaucoma Education and Awareness

Catalyst for a Cure Biomarker Initiative

In 2012, Glaucoma Research Foundation formed the Catalyst for a Cure (CFC) Biomarker Initiative with a goal to provide physicians with novel methods to diagnose, monitor, and treat glaucoma. The CFC collaborative research model brings together four laboratories, each with a specific skill, to work together to discover new biomarkers. The CFC principal investigators are Alfredo Dubra, PhD, Andrew G. Huberman, PhD, Jeffery L. Goldberg, MD, PhD, and Vivek Srinivasan, PhD.

Since its establishment, the CFC team has made exceptional progress moving their studies from the laboratory to the clinic for further testing of three potential new biomarkers. A new biomarker may also be a new treatment target for glaucoma to preserve vision. A key element to the team’s success is the development of state-of-the-art imaging systems with the goal of identifying changes in the retinal ganglion cells that are first affected in glaucoma - before vision is irreversibly lost.

What are Biomarkers and Why Are They So Important?

The tools we have today to diagnose and manage glaucoma are good, but we can do better. Measuring eye pressure and giving visual field tests are effective techniques for detecting the disease, but in reality no level of eye pressure defines glaucoma. Catalyst for a Cure researchers believe there is a more effective way to detect glaucoma, before irrevocable vision loss. This belief inspired the search for biomarkers.

The Catalyst of a Cure researchers have already identified cells in the eye that are among the earliest to show changes in glaucoma. These are possible biomarkers and they are important for several reasons:

  • Early detection

Early diagnosis is the key to preventing vision loss. Sensitive biomarkers hold the potential to let doctors detect the disease early, before sight is permanently lost.

  • Faster drug discovery

Glaucoma progresses slowly. An effective biomarker could demonstrate the efficacy of a drug more quickly and accelerate federal approval for new treatments.

  • More effective treatment

Biomarkers could help doctors learn sooner if a treatment is working or not, helping them to treat glaucoma patients more effectively.

  • Closer to a cure

The more we understand about biomarkers the closer we are to discovering the root causes of the disease—and the cure.

The team is continuing their investigations and validating and testing the new biomarkers through clinical testing.

In addition to funding the Catalyst for a Cure Biomarker Initiative, The Cure is in Sight Campaign will also provide funding for the next collaborative research consortium focused on vision restoration.

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Shaffer Grants for Innovative Glaucoma Research

This research initiative provides grants to investigators with novel ideas that might not get funded otherwise. They function as incubator grants and enable scientists to go forward with potentially groundbreaking studies. As a result, more researchers are focusing on solving glaucoma vision loss and more critical investigations are initiated, leading us closer to new therapies and a cure.

Many important breakthroughs have resulted from these studies including the first genetic discovery in glaucoma and the isolation of the TIGR gene - found to be one of those responsible for the onset of some forms of juvenile and adult glaucoma.

To date, we have funded more than 240 individual pilot projects. Each award, on average, has led to follow-on funding from the National Eye Institute and other organizations totaling four times the original grant. This return on investment is unique in medical research and enables promising investigations to advance.

With additional support, our goal is to significantly increase the number of Shaffer Grants over the next three years. Your investment can lead to the next major innovation in glaucoma.

“Dr. Tonia Rex received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Eye Institute. She would not have been able to receive that NEI grant to forward her work on a potential new therapy without the initial funding from Glaucoma Research Foundation.”

— James Wise, MD (GRF donor who funded Dr. Rex's research grant)

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Glaucoma Education and Awareness

A diagnosis of glaucoma can be frightening and living with the disease can be challenging and overwhelming. Through our educational programs such as free publications, free newsletters, a comprehensive website, and engaging social media, we provide critical resources and support for patients and their caregivers. Since glaucoma has no visible symptoms, early detection is critical to preserve vision.

Of the three million Americans and 60 million people who have glaucoma worldwide, it is estimated that half do not even know they have the condition. Among African American, Asian and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent, and a leading cause of blindness.
As a result of this need, raising public awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations—for everyone—is essential.

In addition to patient support and awareness, Glaucoma Research Foundation is a primary catalyst for innovation meetings that bring together national and international thought leaders in order to collaborate, share their latest findings and discuss research priorities.

In 2012, we launched Glaucoma 360, a forum that unites scientists, clinicians and industry for one reason—to speed the development of new clinical advances to benefit patient care. This annual event includes a Continuing Medical Education Symposium for clinicians highlighting the latest advances in glaucoma management, medications and surgical technique.

With your support, we will increase glaucoma awareness, expand outreach and education to clinicians who care for glaucoma patients, and better serve those affected by the disease — patients, families and communities.

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Download The Cure is in Sight Case Statement (PDF) »

We are grateful to our Campaign leadership, Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, and generous supporters who have partnered with us in our goal of raising $25 million to advance glaucoma research and education.

Thank you for joining us in this important mission to preserve vision from glaucoma. Together, the cure is truly in sight.

Honorary Campaign Cabinet

F.T. Barr - Co-Chair
June Behrendt Otto - Co-Chair

Arlene Anthony
John Hetherington, Jr., MD
H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., MD
Michele and Steven Kirsch
Robert C. Nevins
Mona Zander

Campaign Cabinet

Thomas M. Brunner
Timothy J. Dwyer
Rick Halprin, CPA
Andrew Iwach, MD
Linda C. Linck
Paul Schacknow, MD, PhD
Charles Wilmoth
Ruth Williams, MD

Contact Us

For more information, please contact Nancy Graydon, Executive Director of Development at 415-986-3162 or 1-800-826-6693, or email ngraydon@glaucoma.org

This campaign is about you, your grandparents, your children …anyone in your life affected by this blinding disease. If we act now, we have the potential to forever change lives. But we need your partnership in order to move forward.

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Last reviewed on June 20, 2018

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