Distributed June 4, 2002
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Scott Turner

$5.3-million grant to disseminate best treatments for eyes and vision

Brown University researchers have received a seven-year, $5.3-million contract from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health to systematically review data on the best treatments in the field of eyes and vision and to make that information accessible to practitioners and the public.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown University recently received a seven-year, $5.3-million contract from the National Eye Institute to promote the best treatments for major eye disorders such as cataract and glaucoma.

“Eye doctors, and most physicians, in general, don’t have the time to systematically review medical literature to determine best treatments,” said Kay Dickersin, who received the contract. “We will build a research-based register of all controlled trials related to ophthalmology and optometry. The goal is to get treatments to patients based on the best evidence available in the field of eyes and vision.”

Dickersin and project director Suzanne Brodney will provide and coordinate training and support to eyes and vision practitioners on how to identify and analyze the best available evidence on the effects of interventions and treatments in eye care. They plan to recruit and train eye doctors and vision specialists to systematically review priority areas in the eyes and vision field.

The contract will train practitioners to search U.S.-based eyes and vision journals and conference abstracts for relevant studies. In addition, practitioners involved with the project will learn how to train peers nationwide to conduct and use systematic literature reviews.

The Brown researchers will disseminate the findings to help physicians and consumers make more-informed healthcare choices. The results will be made available in print, on the Internet and in libraries worldwide.

“A regular, systematic review of the literature based on solid medical evidence will provide information to both eye care professionals and consumers, allowing them to make the best decisions concerning treatment choices,” said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., director of the National Eye Institute.

Dickersin is an associate professor of community health. She heads the New England Cochrane Center Providence Office (located at Brown), which is one of 14 international Cochrane Centers. She is also an editor for the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group (CEVG), one of 49 disease-specific review groups in The Cochrane Collaboration.

The Cochrane Collaboration is a global effort involving thousands of collaborators worldwide, who compile and make available systematic reviews of healthcare interventions. It aims to identify all relevant controlled trials, whether published or unpublished, regardless of their country of origin or language of publication. This effort helps identify situations where enough studies have been done and where more are needed. Findings from systematic reviews conducted as part of The Cochrane Collaboration will be updated every two years, or as appropriate.

The project involves an alliance with the National Eye Institute to develop a priority list of chronic eye diseases in the United States. Priority areas will likely include impairments caused by diabetes, cataract, glaucoma, age-related degeneration, myopia, “lazy eye” and low vision. 

Project results will be published in The Cochrane Library, which is a repository of systematic review information, and in the traditional vision research literature. For more information about The Cochrane Collaboration, visit www.cochrane.org. For the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group, visit www.cochraneeyes.org.