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USC biomedical team to participate in $6 million low vision project
Date:10/5/2007

An interdisciplinary team of biomedical researchers from the USC Viterbi School, the College and the Keck School of Medicine of USC has received a $6-million Bioengineering Research Partnership grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to begin designing visual aids for millions of older adults who suffer from significant vision loss.

The USC team, led by Norberto Grzywacz, professor of biomedical engineering in the Viterbi School and director of the USC Center for Vision Science and Technology, will join other researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Houston School of Optometry to address low vision problems caused by neural pathologies, such as macular degeneration and other diseases affecting the retina. Many of these vision problems are prevalent in older adults and cannot be fully corrected with ordinary lenses, medical treatment or surgery.

"Aging, injuries and diseases can all cause low vision, but the leading causes among older adults and the elderly are impairments such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD)," said Grzywacz, principal investigator on the five-year project, who also directs the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program. Our dream is to build devices like intelligent glasses or intelligent television displays that can improve these peoples lives.

AMD is a condition that usually develops in older adults and the elderly, and gradually destroys the central vision of the eye and an individuals ability to see fine detail. AMD patients quite often lose their ability to read, recognize faces and drive.

With an aging population, the incidence of AMD is on the rise. According to Grzywacz, approximately 3.5 percent of people in industrialized countries over the age of 75 have AMD.

That percentage rises to a staggering 18.5 percent for people over 85 years old, he said. AMD is also responsible for about 50 percent of all cases of registered blindness in indust
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Contact: Diane Ainsworth
dainswor@usce.edu
213-821-5808
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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