University of Minnesota
Minnesota Medical Foundation
Minnesota Medical Foundation

Recent Stories: Special Initiatives: Ophthalmology

Minnesota Lions and University representatives celebrated their 50-year partnership and the Lions’ $3 million pledge with a tour of TCF Stadium and a reception at Eastcliff. From left, Jay Krachmer, M.D., head of the Department of Ophthalmology; Patty P

Six-year-old Kira Rogers doesn't know much about the Minnesota Lions, but the Lions' 50-year partnership with the University was intended to help children just like her.

A month after Kira was born, her mother, Michele, noticed something wrong with Kira's right eye. "Her eyelid looked red. The next day it looked puffier. Each day it looked a little puffier," she says.

A grateful patient's mission

Published October 2, 2009


In 1991, Arne Divine began losing his sight because of ischemic optic neuropathy (ION), caused by an obstruction of the blood flowing to his optic nerve. The condition ultimately robbed him of nearly half of his vision and has had a profound impact on his life.

"You lose your independence when you have impaired vision," says Divine, who is 80 years old.

Congratulations, graduates!

Published April 1, 2009

Renzo Zaldivar, M.D. | Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Ophthalmology residents Ophthalmology fellows...

Blindness is second only to cancer when it comes to health conditions people fear most, according to a Gallup poll.

So it may come as a surprise that funding for eye research was practically nonexistent until the organization Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) was founded in 1960. Before that,ophthalmology was a second-tier medical specialty in the United States. Eye care was relegated to the division of surgery in most medical schools, and few basic scientists conducted research on eyes and vision.

Research by Linda McLoon, Ph.D., has shown that retinal ganglion cells previously thought to be beyond rescue might be repairable.

Research by Linda McLoon, Ph.D., has shown that retinal ganglion cells previously thought to be beyond rescue might be repairable.

Many types of eye injuries can cause irreversible damage and vision loss. For example, when the eye's retina and optic nerve are deprived of oxygen, the consensus among clinicians is that nothing can be done to restore the patient's vision if lost.


Resident education in the Department of Ophthalmology made a huge leap forward in March with the opening of a new microsurgery practice lab.

The lab is now equipped with four stations, each outfitted with an operating microscope that is wired to its own video monitor. Each resident also receives a set of microsurgical instruments to use at practice sessions throughout his or her training.

Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D., talks with Linda Block about her improved vision after receiving an artificial cornea.

Treatments that are effective in 90 percent of patients are greeted with great acclaim, as they should be. But what happens when you're in the remaining 10 percent who can't be helped?

Welcome to Linda Block's world. Block has keratoconus, a degenerative disease of the cornea that can cause blurring, distorted vision, and sensitivity to light. In its early stages, the condition can be treated with glasses or special contact lenses. But in more severe cases, like Block's, a corneal transplant may be needed to fix the problem.


Suzanne Mundhenke's first few years of life were ripe with drama.

She was born 12 weeks premature. Under her right eye, she had a large growth called a capillary hemangioma--a fast-growing noncancerous tumor, also known as a strawberry hemangioma. Very soon it began to grow over her eye, obstructing her vision and affecting the eye's development.

Chuck Semrow

Chuck Semrow joined the Department of Ophthalmology's team in December as a senior development officer with the Minnesota Medical Foundation (MMF), which raises money for healthrelated research, education, and service at the University of Minnesota.

Taylor Kahnke, here at his college graduation, is now a medical student. When Taylor Kahnke’s parents gave him a microscope for his eighth birthday, a whole new world was revealed to him. He used his microscope to look at everything he could lay his hands on— rocks, hair, even a drop of his dad’s blood. Kahnke has always had to look at things more carefully than most people. Diagnosed with ocular albinism as a baby, he has 20/80 vision and also nystagmus...
Erika Shane is grateful for the team approach to care at the University’s Center for Thyroid Eye Disease. People with thyroid eye disease can experience many troubling complications, including protruding eyes, eye pressure or pain, and eyelids that are swollen or don’t close completely. Left untreated, a person with this disease could suffer permanent vision loss. To prevent that from happening, some people with thyroid eye disease have orbital decompression surgery to improve their vision and allow their eyes to return to a more normal position, followed by...
As she determines the best treatment for patient Lauren Proffitt, Jill Anderson, M.D., draws upon her own experience and the experience of ophthalmologists across the continent through the PEDIG database. Treating children with eye diseases is a rewarding experience for pediatric ophthalmologists. But depending on the disease, it can be difficult to know exactly which treatment will be most successful. At times like this, it helps to know which treatments have worked best for other children with the same condition. This is why the pediatric team in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Ophthalmology— which regularly collaborates with colleagues within...
Deborah Ferrington, Ph.D. (foreground), reviews research results with graduate students Stacy Hussong (left) and Pabalu Karunadharma. Are we on the verge of an epidemic of vision loss? Considering the large number of baby boomers and the prevalence of macular degeneration among older adults‚ it’s possible. As a result‚ a sense of urgency propels research in the lab headed by Deborah Ferrington, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Minnesota Departments of Ophthalmology and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics. Ferrington studies the cellular mechanisms involved in...
At the Visual Rehabilitation Center, occupational therapist Mary Ruff helps people adapt to their reduced vision. Limited peripheral vision, which often occurs in people with glaucoma, makes it difficult to see someone approaching from the side or objects such as keys on a table. But often before noticing a difference in their eyesight, people with reduced peripheral vision may begin to feel anxious in unfamiliar places, seem to be misplacing things more frequently, and feel more forgetful in general. Experts at the Visual Rehabilitation Center at...
Ophthalmologist Erick Bothun, M.D., examines pediatric glaucoma patient Benjamin Kempf’s eyes. Researchers at the University of Minnesota are working to improve that statistic. The University’s Department of Ophthalmology has a large team of specialists who treat people with glaucoma and conduct research involving the many types of glaucoma. Associate professor Martha Wright, M.D., is director of the department’s glaucoma service.Wright works with professor Alana Grajewski, M.D., and associate professor Mary Lawrence, M.D., M.P.H., to diagnose and manage glaucoma in adults. Many...
Ruth Hanold Ruth Hanold has many reasons for supporting eye research at the University of Minnesota. She has had macular degeneration in both eyes for a decade and more recently was diagnosed with glaucoma and cataracts. The active 93-year-old moved to a retirement community four years ago when her eyesight became so poor that she could no longer drive. But with some adaptive tools, Hanold still does many of the things she...

What is glaucoma?

Published April 1, 2008

Glaucoma is a group of diseases affecting the eye’s optic nerve, a cable that transmits visual information from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure inside the eye that damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and blindness. With early detection and treatment, most people with glaucoma can be protected against serious vision loss. Without treatment, peripheral vision decreases until only tunnel vision remains. In...
Mildred Giordano It was 40 years ago when Mildred Giordano first made the 320-mile drive from her home in South Dakota to the University of Minnesota. She repeated the trip countless times over the years, by car and by plane, seeking treatment at the University’s Department of Ophthalmology for her deteriorating vision. Giordano had been plagued by cold sores, an affliction caused by the herpes simplex virus, since her high school days....
Todd Klesert, M.D., Ph.D., says the department’s new technology will help physicians better understand and treat eye conditions. The Department of Ophthalmology recently acquired two new pieces of equipment. Both are state-of-the-art‚ providing information that is light years beyond what previous tools could provide. The confocal microscope and the Spectralis™ HRA+OCT‚ also known as the Heidelberg Spectralis‚ are currently being used in only a few ophthalmology centers around the country‚ and the University of Minnesota is one of them. One type of medical confocal microscope was developed for...
Image of the Eye The 90 percent to 95 percent success rate for corneal transplantation in the United States might sound impressive, but Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D., isn’t satisfied. Certain high-risk patients still face transplant rejection and related problems, and Kaufman hopes his research can help these patients. Kaufman, who is regarded as an innovative leader in corneal transplantation research, joined the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota in June as a...

Results with research

Published October 1, 2007

Linda McLoon, Ph.D., and Michael Lee, M.D., are experimenting with intranasal delivery of medication directly to an injured optic nerve. When they’re not seeing patients or teaching tomorrow’s ophthalmologists, our faculty members are involved in research aimed at reducing the impact eye diseases and disorders will have on future generations. Here are a few highlights of their current research. Deborah A. Ferrington, Ph.D. Associate professor Ferrington and her colleagues are investigating the role proteins play in indicating diseases of the retina such as macular degeneration and diabetic neuropathy. The retina...
University of Minnesota ophthalmology residents and faculty work closely together. Here, resident Peter Mellema, M.D. (right), consults with attending physician Joseph Terry, M.D. Motivated. Professional. Intelligent. Team players. These are the qualities that University of Minnesota ophthalmology residency program director Martha Wright, M.D., looks for in prospective residents. “We want people whom you would want for your doctor,” she says. The University’s ophthalmology residency program continues to attract a talented group of applicants. “There is stiff competition,” says Wright, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology. “We get more...
Sunscreen and sunglasses help protect Sara and Riley Wheaton’s skin and eyes when they’re outside. Their parents, Michele Moylan and David Wheaton, are grateful for the information and empathetic care University experts have given them. The morning after their son was born nine years ago, Michele Moylan and David Wheaton learned that little Riley had albinism. It wasn’t apparent to them right away. In fact, they had no idea Riley had albinism until their pediatrician came to the hospital to do a standard baby check the next day and noticed that Riley had white eyelashes and no pigment in his eyes. After the initial shock,...
pond.jpg Upgrades to an ophthalmology practice laboratory will have both personal and professional meaning to residents in the Department of Ophthalmology. Over the last several months, the department has received donations in memory of David P. Pond, M.D., a first-year ophthalmology resident. At the time of his death last June, many friends and colleagues in the ophthalmic community expressed interest in contributing to a memorial fund for David. Department leaders have...
It’s clear that longtime ophthalmology professor Donald Doughman, M.D., has made a difference in many of your lives. Since we first contacted many of you about contributing to the Doughman Cornea Research and Education Fund in February, the Minnesota Medical Foundation has received more than 90 gifts totaling $16,000 in his honor. We’d like to thank you for recognizing Doughman’s contributions to the Department of Ophthalmology in this way. If...
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