Pitt doctor's team gets vision award

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A team including an ophthalmologist with UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has received the Champalimaud Vision Award from the Champalimaud Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal, for its invention and validation of a revolutionary imaging system that reveals vivid details of eye anatomy.

The team including Joel S. Schuman, director of the UPMC Eye Center and chairman of the Pitt School of Medicine's department of ophthalmology, among numerous other positions, will receive the 1 million euro prize that will help advance future research and development of technology.

The prize-winning technology known as optical coherence tomography quickly and noninvasively produces a 3-D map of the eye, particularly the retina. It currently is the most powerful tool available for early detection of diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. The team invented the technology 20 years ago, and OCT is now a standard part of eye care for patients throughout the world.

Dr. Schuman, one of the nation's top authorities on glaucoma and diagnostic testing for eye disease, worked with engineers and ophthalmology researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California for more than two decades to develop and fulfill OCT's clinical potential.

"I'm delighted by the Champalimaud Foundation's recognition of our efforts," he said in a news release. "We continue to work on improving OCT, and in the next decade it could be as portable and easy to use as a standard ophthalmoscope," which is the hand-held device that doctors use routinely to look inside the eye.

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