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Work to Slow Progression of Nearsightedness in Children Wins AwardEarl Smith Receives Donald Korb Award for Innovation in Contact Lenses

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June 28, 2011-Houston-

Earl L. Smith III, O.D., dean of the College of Optometry at the University of Houston (UH), recently received an award for his work in slowing the progression of nearsightedness in children. Earl Smith 2

Smith, who also holds the endowed Greeman-Petty Professor chair, accepted the Donald Korb Award for Excellence at a ceremony June 17 from the contact lens and cornea section of the American Optometric Association (AOA).

The Korb award is given in recognition of an individual who has been an innovator and leader in the field of contact lenses and anterior segment disease, which include anomalies dealing with the front of the eye involving the cornea, iris and lens. The honor takes into account those who have propelled the profession’s knowledge base through novel research, made a major developmental impact on the profession and positively affected the way practitioners manage their patients.

Smith and his colleagues have proposed a treatment strategy to slow the progression of myopia in children, with the overall goal being to decrease the degree of nearsightedness. The idea came about as a result of their basic research on the effects of vision on eye growth and the optical development of the eye.

His team is partnering with researchers in the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Sydney, Australia, to develop new contact lenses that can be used to implement these strategies in children. They already brought eyeglasses to market in 2010 that demonstrate an ability to slow the progression of myopia in children.

Traditional treatments for correcting both nearsightedness and farsightedness have focused on moving the visual image backward and forward with corrective lenses. Smith and his colleagues, however, have demonstrated that moving the central image onto the retina and leaving the peripheral image behind the retina can drive the eye to elongate, causing myopia to increase. The new technology addresses this problem by bringing the peripheral image forward, onto, or even in front of, the retina, resulting in clear vision.

“Receiving this award is particularly meaningful to me,” Smith said. “I have the greatest respect for Dr. Korb. In my view, he is one of the most creative and insightful clinician scientists of our time, an entrepreneur in every sense of the word and a true visionary. It’s a great honor to receive an award established in his name.”

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Editorial Note: High-resolution photos of Earl Smith are available to media by contacting Lisa Merkl.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation’s fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 38,500 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.

About the UH College of Optometry
Since 1952, the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) has educated and trained optometrists to provide the highest quality vision care. One of only 20 optometry schools in the country, UHCO offers a variety of degree programs, including Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), a combined Doctor of Optometry/Doctor of Philosophy (O.D./Ph.D.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). UHCO serves an average of 36,000 patients a year through The University Eye Institute and its satellite clinics.

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