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UA researcher is making refractive surgery more beneficial to patients

By Jeff Jensen
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 14, 2000
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A UA ophthalmology and optical sciences professor is developing new methods that could improve refractive laser surgery.

Jim Schwiegerling, an assistant ophthalmology and optical sciences professor who received his doctorates from the University of Arizona in 1995, is improving researchers' abilities to measure the optical characteristics of a person's eye in order to create patterns unique to each patient.

"Our goal is to optimize the result of refractive surgery," Schwiegerling said.

Current surgeries are only able to correct most, but not all, of a patient's refractive error.

With these new methods - as well as improved lasers - it may be possible to correct a patient's vision to beyond 20/20. It will also improve a patient's ability to see low-contrast and dim objects.

"Right now, the goal of the surgery is to allow people to see as well without their glasses as they do with," Schwiegerling said.

This research is being funded by a $191,470 grant from the Whitaker Foundation in Rosslyn, Va.

The Whitaker grant, which is available to faculty or research staff who have received a doctorate or residency within the past eight years, awards millions of dollars to research every year.

The Chairman of the Foundation Governing Committee, G. Burtt Holmes, summed up the intentions of the Foundation, saying, "Its ultimate legacy will depend on contributions of biomedical engineering to improvements in health care."

He added that "the foundations Special Opportunity Awards, Development Awards and Leadership Awards all support the creation and expansion of the biomedical engineering departments and programs in universities needed to train biomedical engineers."

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