May 25, 2024 | English, Salud

By: PCC/SA Jack Romano

The annual Doctor’s Speak event sponsored by Lions Eye Research Foundation (LERF) is an event where faculty members from the Institute of Visual and Ophthalmological Sciences (IOVS) give their time to speak to the Lions and those zooming in about their work within the Institute.

This took place at Rutgers University Medical Center on Saturday April 27, 2024.

LERF Executive Director PID Mel Bray welcomed all attending. Dr. Marco Zarbin Chair of IOVS thanked the Lions for their support over the years.

The first speaker was Dr. Roger Turbin whose subject was PIOLT PROGRAM UNMET NEEDS QUALITY PROSTETIC SHELLS IN GRENADA. This is a program initiated by Dr. Turbin sponsored by St. Gorges University Medical School in Grenada.

Dr. Turbin described the two-tiered medical care system with clinics, 4 private hospitals and 3 government operated hospitals providing various degrees of care. He also described the situation where importing medical equipment that may be “expired” in the United States, but perfectly useful, with interference from local Customs officials. Surgical instruments are repeatedly sterilized and reused repeatedly based on necessity.

Dr. Turbin also addressed the situation with open globe traumas unrecognized and unrepaired in Grenada. He initiated a program to provide semi-custom ocular shells and molds using a vinyl polysiloxane system.

Dr. Mohammad Dastjerdi was the second speaker. His topic was EXTERNAL DISEASES OF THE CORNEA and KEEPING THE CORNEA HEALTHY. He explained that the cornea is the clear tissue of the eyeball which covers the iris, pupil, and focuses light on the retina. The conjunctiva is the white membrane which covers the eyeball.

Two unique features of the cornea are it is Avascular meaning it contains no blood and is nerve rich containing 300–400-times more nerves than on human skin.

Diseases include infection/ulceration, opacity (cloudy/not clear), swelling and dry eye disease. Corneal blindness is a significant health issue only behind cataracts. Corneal transplants are common in the USA and 90% successful.


Contact lenses can protect the cornea but care must be taken to prevent infection and disease. Never sleep, swim with contact lenses, or wash them with tap water.

Eye trauma cause by either work or sports injuries can be prevented by wearing appropriate eye protection. This includes children playing sports and adults playing pickle ball!

The shingles virus can cause conditions of the eye such as: Corneal scarring, Glaucoma, Vision Loss, Post Therapeutic Neuralgia, and a diminished quality of life. Getting the Shingrix Vaccine is highly recommended for those age 50 and above.

Dr. Zarbin disused the faculty and student involvement at IOVS as part of continuing medical training. For FY 2023 there were 68 Resident and 44 Faculty Intellectual Publications totaling 112 Intellectual Publications. 50% of patients are from outside of Essex County the location of IOVS. There was a total of 45,318 patients serviced for FY 2023.


Neurons (ganglion and bi-polar cells) are connected through synapses. Light through the retina to capture cells are photo receptors. There are two types: Rods and Cones. Photo receptors can be transplanted into residual cells the space between the eyeball and retina. This can have an impact on retinal disease as photo receptors transplants are in clinical trials which can potentially treat retinitis pigmentosa and Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Miller Glia cells can possibly regenerate and connect to cells behaving like photo receptors. This is being tested on mice with retinal disease.

This is basically a material transfer as the hope of the trials is to replace the sick neurons with healthy ones through nanotubes in the eye. Using human STEM ells is also a possibility as this can potentially “grow” into a little retina.


Remember this is being researched and can potentially influence how to treat retinal disease.
Once again, these physicians gave of their time to help educate the lions and others on the latest research into vision issues.

PID Mel thanked all for attending and Lion Lou Lambe and PCC Mahesh Chitnis for providing technical support. He presented Dr Zarbin with a check from LERF for $25,000 to be used for much needed medical equipment. Dr. Zarbin thanked PID Mel for the generous donation and all those who attended the session.

Ruth Molenaar

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