Christine Wildsoet

Professor of Optometry and Vision Science
School of Optometry
University of California, Berkeley

The focus of research in the Wildsoet lab is refractive development and myopia (short-sightedness). Myopia is a very common ocular disorder, a product of the eye growing too large for its optical power. Myopia has reached epidemic levels in some populations, with >90% in some Asian university student populations, with the rise in prevalence being coupled to an increase in the average amount of myopia. High myopia is a leading cause of blindness, resulting from retinal complications, a byproduct of the abnormal eye enlargement underlying this condition. The central retina is particularly vulnerable, as the outer supporting sclera, which comprises fibrous connective tissue, is naturally thinnest at the posterior pole of the globe, and becomes progressively thinner and weaker as a consequence of extensive remodeling in highly myopic eyes. Among the approaches to therapy for myopia currently being explored in collaboration with the Healy lab is the application of biopolymers to 1) rehabilitate, 2) reinforce the scleral wall, and 3) to deliver drugs to inhibit the scleral remodeling events. Stem cells have potential application in the development of implants to rehabilitate and/or reinforce the myopic sclera.