January 17, 2019

Two Minnesota sisters help with Mayo research into genetic eye condition

By Karl Oestreich

by Danny Spewak

The symptoms appeared in their fifties. Terri Houle couldn't read street signs on the road until it was too late to turn. Her sister, Sandra, couldn't differentiate one face from another. Both had been diagnosed with Fuchs' dystrophy, a swelling of the cornea that causes blurry and foggy vision. KARE-11 LogoIt got so bad they eventually both needed surgery, since no medication can treat it. What a difference it made… Dr. Keith Baratz, a professor of ophthalmology at Mayo, was among the first researchers in the country to identify the genetic defect that causes the majority of cases. "We've known for a long time that Fuchs runs in families," Baratz said, "but we haven't known the specific genetic defect until the past decade or so."

Reach: KARE 11 is the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul and reaches more than 600,000 people each week in its coverage area.  Its website has more than 1.5 million unique visitors each month.

Context: Keith Baratz, M.D. is a Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist. As a corneal specialist, Dr. Baratz has specific interest in Fuchs' corneal dystrophy and the outcomes of corneal transplantation surgery. Fuchs' corneal dystrophy is a very common inherited condition resulting in vision loss through loss of corneal clarity. Corneal transplantation is currently the only therapeutic option for Fuchs' dystrophy, and it is the most common indication for corneal transplantation. Despite the high frequency of the disease, research into its genetic causes and the biochemical mechanisms are still at a relatively preliminary stage. You can read more about his medical research here.

Contact:  Kelley Luckstein

Tags: Dr Keith Baratz, eye surgery, Fuchs' dystrophy, KARE11, Terri Houle, Uncategorized

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