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The first is that guiding principles accepted for years, even decades, have been tested formally (by scientific research studies) with what could be described as pleasantly surprising results leading to care that’s easier to deliver, easier for the child to tolerate, and yet proves better for restoring normal eye functions. And for all these good things, the new treatments often have also proven to be less expensive.The second is that a group of pediatric ophthalmologists, many in a private-practice setting rather than an academic medical school setting, came together entirely of their own volition in 1997 to form PEDIG (Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group). They conduct research with the simple mission of improving outcomes for children with eye disorders. More than 100 sites and 200 pediatric ophthalmologists and pediatric optometrists in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom now participate in this network.
This spirit of collaboration is crucial to improving the health of children, because most disorders that occur in children are relatively uncommon. Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” for example, occurs in fewer than 2% of children. Research groups can make a huge difference for children, as demonstrated by cooperative research on children’s cancer. We have moved from a near-zero cure rate in the 1950s to a current cure rate of about 85% for childhood cancer, thanks to the organization of an effective, cooperative group committed to learning by conducting research.While the progress in eye disorders made by PEDIG has been rapid, there is much more to be learned and accomplished by this outstanding cooperative group, says Dr. Katherine Lee, St. Luke’s Children’s pediatric ophthalmologist and member of PEDIG. St. Luke’s Health System and the St. Luke’s Children’s are indeed very fortunate to have Dr. Lee and orthoptist Ms. Bonita Schweinler’s contributions to optimizing the vision of our most vulnerable population, the children of our region. I am very proud of their contributions to research through PEDIG that are revolutionizing the care of children with eye disorders.
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