Hamilton Eye Institute Selected as Macular Degeneration Trial Site

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Following a nationwide competition, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) Hamilton Eye Institute has been selected as one of the sites for conducting the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2).

Following a nationwide competition, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) Hamilton Eye Institute has been selected as one of the sites for conducting the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2). This first-ever trial of age-related macular degeneration to be held on the UTHSC campus has two goals: The first is to assess the effects of oral supplementation of two carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) that accumulate in the macula and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids on the progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As a secondary objective, AREDS2 will also study the effect of these supplements on the development of cataracts. AREDS2 is a multi-center, five-year, randomized trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers plan to enroll about 100 Mid-South subjects in this study, and follow

them on a yearly basis for at least five years. “We are confident that all eye care providers in our community will see this trial as a positive opportunity. We are counting on their continued support to meet and exceed the trial’s recruitment goals,” said Barrett G. Haik, MD, UT Hamilton Professor and chairman of the UTHSC Department of Ophthalmology. “AREDS2 gives all area ophthalmologists and optometrists the unique opportunity to have their patients take part in a carefully designed, standardized study, devoid of biases. The yearly exams planned during the trial will add to, but will not replace, the essential role that the community eye care providers play in the care of these patients,” he noted.

The team of researchers is led by Alessandro Iannaccone, MD, MS, AREDS2 principal investigator at the UTHSC site. “Our selection as a study site is a great success for the entire community. The ability to use the latest technology at the Hamilton Eye Institute surely contributed to our competitiveness in the selection process,” stated Dr. Iannaccone.

“This initiative dovetails very nicely with other research we are already conducting on the role of lutein, zeaxanthin, and inflammation in AMD,” continued Dr. Iannaccone. “Participating in this nationwide trial will allow us to make an active contribution to testing the hypothesis that these carotenoids, with or without specific omega 3 fatty acids, may reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD.”

Dr. Iannaccone is joined in this effort by co-investigators Edward Chaum, MD, PhD, Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI); Karen C. Johnson, MD, MPH, UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine; Barbara Jennings, OD, and April Cantrell, BS, COA, also of HEI. Dr. Jennings and Ms. Cantrell will serve as AREDS2 site coordinator and manager, respectively, overseeing the study protocol, the day-to-day study activities, and the recruitment and retention effort. Lynne C. Lichtermann, RN, BSN, recruitment director with Preventive Medicine, will assist them in the latter endeavor.

Patients who have been diagnosed with AMD and are interested in this study, as well as physicians who would like to refer patients to AREDS 2 can obtain more information by contacting Dr. Barbara Jennings at (901) 448-6445 or April Cantrell at (901) 448-6185.