Nov 28, 2007

Grant puts field in the public eye

Source: Detroit Free Press
Written by Patricia Ansetett

A little-known field of ophthalmology soon will get work space in Ann Arbor that matches the stature a University of Michigan team has achieved.

A $1.5-million grant awarded in October by the Harry A. and Margaret D. Townsley Foundation will help U-M build a state-of-the-art Ophthalmic Imaging Center in the new Kellogg Eye Center under construction.

Scheduled to open in 2010, it will house six camera rooms, a photo studio, a waiting area and a larger work space.

When ophthalmologists review milestones in their field, they will likely credit Richard Hackel, chief of the U-M ophthalmic photography program, as the person whose digital images helped transform the diagnosis of eye disease.

In 1995, Hackel changed an arduous process of cutting and pasting together dozens of photos of the eye’s interior — much the way a collage is made — into digital photographs that precisely capture its texture and color.

Today, ophthalmic photography is an important adjunct to the diagnosis of eye disease. It also is used to monitor whether patients benefit from certain treatments.

In that way, a computerized photo can spare patients from undergoing possibly risky, invasive procedures and save money by avoiding unnecessary treatments that may cost $2,000 or more.

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