Uncovering Glaucoma’s Vascular Link in People of African Descent
Alon Harris, MS, PhD, FARVO, has committed 30 years of research to chipping away at the notion that intraocular pressure (IOP) is the predominant risk factor for openangle glaucoma (OAG), particularly in people of African descent. Through his internationally acclaimed work, the Professor of Ophthalmology and Vice Chair of International Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has demonstrated that vascular abnormalities can result in reduced blood flow through the retrobulbar vessels and within the retina, which, in turn, are predictive of worse glaucoma progression in people of African descent.
With the help of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation, Dr. Harris and his team are taking that research to the next level by integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and mathematical modeling with clinical and research data to better understand the role that race—as well as other risk factors, such as structural properties of the eye, ocular blood flow, and systemic conditions—plays as a risk modifier and contributor to OAG pathophysiology. For this purpose, Dr. Harris has assembled a multidisciplinary research team comprising glaucoma specialists, physiologists, mathematicians, and bioengineers.