News from OHSU Casey Eye Institute

Read more about the latest in patient care, education and research from OHSU Casey Eye Institute.

10,000+ free eye exams to prevent blindness in Oregon

Celebration with mobile clinic volunteers of te 10,000th participant screened by the mobile clinic.

Maria Leonar Garcia Pio, 55, had learned to live with blurred vision because she couldn’t afford to see an eye doctor. She became the 10,000th participant screened by the program and was referred to an eye doctor to address her cataracts, a condition that can lead to blindness if left untreated. Read more about her story.

More than 10,000 people like Garcia Pio have received a free eye exam from an ophthalmologist through the OHSU Casey Community Outreach Program, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

OHSU ophthalmologist to lead National Eye Institute

Michael Chiang, M.D., pediatric ophthalmologist

We are thrilled to share that Casey’s Dr. Michael Chiang has been named the new director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), which is part of the National Institutes of Health. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and is a strong attestation of Mike's superb qualities and skill as a physician, ophthalmologist, researcher, educator and leader. The timing is also an immense opportunity for Mike to apply his expertise in informatics and big data to the benefit of vision science and patient care nationwide. 

Although we are saddened by his departure, we wish him the best in his new role! Read the full article.

OHSU performs first-ever CRISPR gene editing within human body

Photo of the procedure using gene editing CRISPR tool in the human body.

Physicians at OHSU Casey Eye Institute performed the first ever gene editing procedure inside the human body on a patient with a rare form of retinitis pigmentosa. Read the article.

This marks a major advance for all of medicine as we enter an era of repairing inherited genetic diseases. The research is being led by Mark Pennesi, M.D., Ph.D., who leads the Paul H. Casey Genetics Division, and the surgery was performed by Andreas Lauer, M.D., chair of the Casey Eye Institute.

Caption: Mark Pennesi, M.D., Ph.D., who leads OHSU's involvement in the trial, center right, looks on as staff at Oregon Health & Science University's Casey Eye Institute perform the first-ever in vivo CRISPR gene edit procedure for the BRILLIANCE clinical trial. The study uses the gene-editing technology CRISPR to repair mutations in the CEP290 gene that cause a rare form of inherited blindness called Leber congenital amaurosis type 10. The trial is sponsored by Allergan plc. and Editas Medicine. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

Celebrate sight with interactive storytelling project

Participant goes into the booth to record a person story about what vision means to them.
An interactive multimedia art installation called The Eye Love Project, from OHSU Casey Eye Institute, is making a debut at the Portland Winter Light Festival. The project celebrates the power of vision and visitors can record their own thoughts about what vision adds to their lives. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

Vision frames our experiences with the world, but we don’t always take a moment to appreciate everything our eyes do for us. This is that moment.

Powered by Casey, The Eye Love Project is a giant, eye shaped exhibit where people can take a moment to appreciate their vision and share personal stories about how we see the world, together.

Read the full article.

Tech that detects cause of preemie blindness gets federal nod

A father kisses his infant's little fingers as the baby is seed by doctors to treat Retinopathy of Prematurity

Can artificial intelligence detect eye disease? An artificial intelligence algorithm developed by Casey researchers received breakthrough device status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This technology can detect a potentially blinding eye disease in preemie babies better than most experts. Read the full article. 

FDA recommends approval of eye drug tested in Portland

Thyroid eye disease is a rare but serious condition that can cause blindness and bulging eyes.
Judy Bachman of Portland participated in a clinical trial that treated symptoms of thyroid eye disease, a condition that can cause eyes to bulge outward, double vision, and eyelids to retract and not fully close. Bachman testified before the FDA about her experience with the drug teprotumumab and how it allowed her to get her life back. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

The FDA recommended approval of a new thyroid eye disease drug tested at Casey after Dr. Roger Dailey and his patient, Judy Bachman, went to D.C. to testify in support of the drug.

Thyroid eye disease can lead to blindness if untreated. Also known as Graves’ eye disease, the autoimmune condition is often associated with thyroid disorders and is believed to affect up to 75,000 Americans. Until now, there’s been no cure for this disease.

“I stopped reading because I couldn’t track the words. Sewing was torture, and I couldn’t go bicycling. But I don’t have those troubles now,” said Bachman, who testified before the FDA committee about her experience with the drug through the trial. Read the article.

Wonder girl

Aliyah was able to remove her eye patch and wore a Wonder Woman costume to celebrate.

“If Dr. Wilson and the Casey Eye Institute were to completely up and move across the country, I would still fly Aliyah to see them. There is absolutely no one else I would entrust completely to handle her care.”

3 year-old Aliyah was at home when she sustained an eye injury, and when her parents rushed her to their optometrist they were sent immediately to OHSU - three and a half hours away. After two years and over 2,000 hours of using an eye patch, Aliyah wanted to commemorate her last day using the patch by wearing a Wonder Woman costume. Read the full story.

Donor spotlight: Paul Casey

Paul Casey 2019

Paul Casey cares deeply about the OHSU Casey Eye Institute. Not a surprise: His family name is on the building. But you can’t fully understand the “why” of Paul’s generosity toward the institute without learning where he comes from. It’s a story of loss and luck. Inventiveness and determination. Grit and gratitude. Read the full article.

Note: The profile above appeared in the November 2019 issue of Onward Magazine, just prior to Mr. Casey's passing. We are grateful for his generous and steadfast support of the Casey Eye Institute. 

Discovery in monkeys could lead to treatment for blindness causing syndrome

A rhesus macaque monkey has a rare genetic disease that could help researchers develop new treatments for Bardet-Biedel syndrome..

A genetic mutation that leads to a rare, but devastating blindness-causing syndrome has been discovered in monkeys for the first time. The finding offers a promising way to develop gene and cell therapies that could treat the condition in people...Read the full article.

Lewis & Clark student helps advance with Usher’s syndrome research at OHSU

Brendan Cramer interned at OHSU to help scientists learn more about stem cells as a possible treatment for Usher Syndrome, which Creemer has.

“You have that choice to either give up and assume everything is hopeless or choose to take action and not only help yourself but others around you as well.”

Brendan Creemer, a student from Lewis & Clark College, spent much of the summer in the laboratory of Oregon Health and Science University in the lab of neuroscientists Martha Neuringer, Ph.D., and Trevor McGill, Ph.D., working on a method to improve the ability to use stem cells as a possible treatment for Usher syndrome. Creemer has Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes progressive vision loss and deafness.

Read the full article to find out more about Creemer's story and what the personal connection means to OHSU scientists.

Occupational therapist with low vision helps her peers find independence

Kathryn Marxen-Simonson helps a patient learn to navigate with visual aids.
Kathryn Marxen-Simonson is an occupational therapy at Casey Eye Institute's Vision Rehabilitation Center.

Kathryn Marxen-Simonson, 30, of Portland, Oregon, has had limited vision since she was 3 ½ months old, when she developed retinopathy of prematurity as a baby born prematurely at 25 weeks gestation...Read the article.

Local TV station KATU News aired a story featuring the Low Vision Rehabilitation Center's occupational therapist, Kathryn Marxen-Simonson, and one of her cliets, View the video.

Donor spotlight: Glenn and Marilyn Hart

The Harts are valued OHSU donors and great supporters of Casey Eye Institute.

Marilyn Hart likes to joke that her longtime doctor, Casey Eye Institute Director David Wilson, MD, the Paul H. Casey chair in ocular oncology, once told her she could be a “poster child” for successful eye surgeries. Read the full article.

Dr. David Wilson is inaugural recipient of the Paul H. Casey Chair in Ocular Oncology

Dr. David Wilson with donor Paul H. Casey and leaders from OHSU and Casey Eye Institute
Left to right: Michael F. Chiang, M.D. Paul H. Casey, David J. Wilson, M.D., Andreas K. Lauer, M.D., Danny Jacobs, M.D.

David Wilson, M.D., professor of ophthalmology, OHSU School of Medicine, and director, Casey Eye Institute, was appointed the inaugural recipient of the Paul H. Casey Chair in Ocular Oncology....Read more.

A Living Legend

Dr. Robert Watzke reflects on his career as an ophthalmologist at OHSU Casey Eye Institute

Dr. Robert Watzke was a retina specialist at OHSU Casey Eye Institute
Casey's beloved Dr. Robert Watzke reflects on his remarkable career as a "living legend" in ophthalmology in this podcast produced by OHSU News.

Doing work you love is a key ingredient in a long, satisfying career. No one knows this better than Robert Watzke, a professor in the OHSU Casey Eye Institute. Dr. Watzke joined OHSU as a full professor in 1984 after a 30-year career in Iowa. He recently retired but is still involved in teaching residents. Listen to the OHSU Now interview. 

New eye clinic building meets construction milestone

At the beam topping-off ceremony in May 2019, all were welcome to sign the  building's highest beam.

A crowd cheered as it watched the final beam being hoisted onto the highest level of the five-story, 60,000-square-foot building, which will be completed in 2020. Before the beam was erected, they had lined up to make their mark on the new project by signing the 1,437-pound piece...Read the full article.

High hopes for 4-year-old’s vision after gene therapy

A young boy with inherited retinal disease walks with his dad. He was treated with the first FDA approved gene therapy Luxturna.

Throughout his first four years, young Caspian Soto has navigated life differently than most.

He wears a headlamp to brighten the world before him and uses a cane to feel the ground’s surface – and sometimes, for fun, also rides it like a witch on a broom. Without these items, he used to become frustrated as he routinely bumped into objects that were in clear view for others, but hidden to him...Read the full article.

Elks association essential to OHSU’s fight against childhood blindness

The Elks Children's Eye Clinic new building attached to the current Casey Eye Institute

Thanks to a $20 million pledge from the Elks, OHSU is able to break ground June 2 on a $50 million, 60,000 square-foot building that will be named the Oregon Elks Children’s Eye Clinic...Read the full article.

Telemedicine provides accurate diagnosis of rare cause of blindness in preemies

Babies born with retinopathy of prematurity may benefit from telemedicine.

Accurately detecting a rare but devastating cause of blindness in premature babies can be done as effectively with telemedicine as with traditional, in-person eye exams, a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology suggests. This is believed to be the first study to directly compare the two approaches.

The finding could enable more blindness-preventing treatment for infants born in rural and other areas where there are few ophthalmologists trained to detect the condition, called retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP. Musician Stevie Wonder went blind due to this condition...Read the full article.