Retinal Research

The retina is the thin inner layer of photoreceptor cells that lines the back two-thirds of the eyeball. After light passes through the cornea and lens, it reaches the retina. This stimulates an electrical impulse, which is transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve, resulting in our sensation of vision. The macula is the central portion of the retina responsible for fine, central vision.

The Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute at Columbia University’s Department of Ophthalmology is internationally renowned for the expertise of its vitreoretinal surgeons, and home to the world’s first retina clinic, established by Charles Campbell, MD, PhD in 1958. Columbia physicians and scientists can lay claim to some of ophthalmology’s most significant developments in vitreoretinal surgery and research, including Peter Gouras, MD’s first human retinal cell transplants, Stanley Chang, MD’s use of perfluorocarbons and panoramic viewing systems in vitreoretinal surgery and Rando Allikmets, PhD’s discovery of the age-related macular degeneration (AMD) gene variants (Complement Factor H and Factor B).

Our physicians and scientists work together in comprehensive clinical and basic science research efforts to better understand the genetic and molecular causes of retinal diseases such as AMD, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy, pathologic myopia and other retinal diseases. At the same time, and with an equally intensive focus, Institute faculty are applying the results of that research to develop new treatment approaches that have the potential to halt the disease process and possibly stop vision loss or restore vision.

Our Faculty

Our Studies

  • Scope
  • Horizon
  • Explore
  • 4D Therapeutics
  • Stargazer