Department of Research

Mission Statement

The Wills Eye Hospital Department of Research seeks to advance knowledge and enhance the quality of vision care. The Department currently works with a multidisciplinary group of researchers and clinicians. They are investigating the effectiveness of prevention strategies to improve access to eye care for people with diabetes.

The Department is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in collaborative efforts with Thomas Jefferson University, Temple University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Miami and University of Alabama at Birmingham. The Wills Eye Hospital Department of Research will continue to work on projects that improve education, research, clinical care, and public service for vision care issues.

For information about Wills Eye clinical trials, visit

Project Summaries

Recruitment is currently in progress for "Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Safety of Transcorneal Electrical Stimulation to Improve Visual Function after Ocular Trauma and NAION." TES is a novel, safe, non-invasive externally applied form of electrical ocular stimulation. This study focuses on restoration and rehabilitation of vision loss resulting from ocular trauma (acute and chronic) and Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (NAION) where no other treatment has proven to be helpful for these diagnoses. The study is a prospective, randomized, SHAM-controlled clinical trial design evaluating the efficacy of treatment. After the 6 weeks of SHAM treatment are completed, those in the SHAM group will be offered TES treatment for an additional 6 weeks. For more information, click here.

Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) Study

Funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Wills Eye Hospital collaborated with Thomas Jefferson University and Temple University on the prevention of disability due to diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye condition among diabetic adults and can lead to severe vision impairment and even blindness.

African-Americans are more likely to have vision loss from diabetic retinopathy due to a variety of factors, including cultural barriers to care. The investigators aim to increase the rates of eye exams in diabetic African-American seniors by providing culturally relevant home-based interventions. These interventions will increase knowledge about diabetes and the eyes, as well as the awareness of ocular risks due to diabetes

The Wills Eye Translational Research Study

Funded by the CDC, the Wills Eye Hospital, in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the University of Miami, seeks to develop a four-year retrospective database to evaluate system- and individual-level factors that impact access to vision care in patients with diabetes. This project will investigate barriers and enablers to cost-effective eye care in people with diabetes. Using information gleaned from the database, the project will test telephone-based educational interventions to improve dilated fundus exam follow-up adherence.

To view the Wills Eye Hospital Financial Conflicts of Interest in Federally Funded Research Policy, please click here.