Pitt and the FDA hope to team up on projects like the development of augmented reality headsets "to help people with low vision 'see' their surrounding environments better."

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are teaming up with the Food and Drug Administration to help those with vision loss.

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The five-year partnership between Pitt School of Medicine’s Ophthalmology Department and the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health will focus on “scientific collaborations, educational initiatives and outreach activities designed to address the epidemic of vision loss.”

In a press release, Pitt’s Dr. José-Alain Sahel said, “It’s really exciting to see this happening. This will put Pitt in a position where we can work with the FDA on the validation of new technological approaches by developing programs and protocols. There is strong expertise at Pitt that is being recognized at an international level. Patients’ voices will nurture our projects and define the successes we all want to deliver.”

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Research shows that the number of individuals with visual impairments is expected to triple by the year 2050, according to Pitt.

Pitt researchers say they are already working on numerous projects to help the visually impaired. Those include: cell therapies, gene therapies, optogenetics, advanced high-resolution imaging, optic nerve regeneration, prosthetic vision and brain stimulation to restore sight, plus more.

They hope partnering with the FDA will allow them research other therapies and technologies like augmented reality headsets “to help people with low vision ‘see’ their surrounding environments better” and get it out to patients sooner.

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The UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Tower at UPMC Mercy is expected to be completed in 2022. It will be the home for the vision research program at Pitt and UPMC.