The Wright Foundation for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus is a not-for-profit 501(c)
(3) Foundation located in Los Angeles. Its mission is to reduce blindness and suffering from eye disorders in infants and children, through research, medical education, and delivering quality eye care to all children without regard to insurance, status, or family income. Dr. Kenneth Wright, medical director of the Wright Foundation, has been a practicing physician and pediatric ophthalmologist for over 20 years. The work of the Foundation is supported by private and institutional grants, with monies going directly to projects. Volunteers manage the Foundationís administration, and no member of the board of directors, or Dr. Wright, receive any financial remuneration for their services.
The National Eye Advisory Council has estimated that 1 out of every 25 children suffers from visual impairment. Strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), undetected refractive errors, congenital cataracts and congenital glaucoma are examples of ocular disorders in infants that can result in permanent visual loss or blindness. An additional factor to consider is the psychological devastation in children and adults with eye misalignment and ocular deformities. Pediatric eye disease is fundamentally different from adult eye disease and should be treated as such. Visual development and nervous system plasticity sharply distinguishes pediatric eye problems from adult eye problems. Something as easy as measuring visual acuity in an adult can be very challenging when working with a child in the “terrible two’s.” As a result, special skills and equipment are required for successfully examining and treating children with eye disease.
Clinical Research: Development of a research program that applies technology and advances from basic science to solve clinical and surgical problems.
Fellowship and Education: Establishing an educational center of excellence for fellows, both national and international.
Patient Care: Provide a caring environment where children from all walks of life can gain access to the highest level, state-of-the-art, medical and surgical care. We support missions in the community and world-wide.
The aim of the research program supported by the Wright Foundation is to apply technology and advances from basic research to solve clinical problems. In many instances, technical advances exist but have not been implemented to improve the clinical care of our children. Clinical tasks that are easy to accomplish in adults are often difficult, or nearly impossible, to perform in infants and young children.
The importance of clinical research is exemplified by our success with premature infants and the prevention of severe Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. ROP is a retinal disease occurring in premature infants and is most severe in Very Low Birth Weight infants (VLBW) under 1,500 grams.
Blindness from ROP occurs in approximately 3% of premature infants born, but much higher in certain neonatal intensive care units throughout the United States and worldwide. At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, data from 1997 showed elevated rates of severe ROP with an increased need for laser treatment, which, unfortunately, often fails. In response to these high rates of severe ROP, we initiated a quality improvement program in 1998 that included a protocol for the strict management of oxygen in all very low birth weight infants. Since instituting the new protocol, we have seen a dramatic reduction in severe ROP. Over the last 3 years, none of the premature infants on the protocol required laser treatment, and no child has gone blind.
Read about our publications and press releases on our ROP research endeavors.
Our goal is to provide a caring environment where all children can gain access to the highest level, medical and surgical care regardless of ability to pay. In this spirit, Dr. Wright and his team have cared for underprivileged children in the Los Angeles area, including those referred from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centerís COACH (Community Outreach Assistance for Childrenís Health) program; a unique service where a specially-equipped van goes to the Los Angeles inner-city community and examines kids who would not otherwise receive care. COACH children identified with eye problems are referred to our office and seen at no charge if they are not covered by state aid. Services include surgery and glasses if indicated. Over 100 disadvantaged children from the Los Angeles area are cared for per month in our pediatric office. Families are served on the basis of medical need, not on ability to pay.
PRK for Amblyopia Caused by Anisometropia in Farsighted Children
A blurred image in a child disrupts normal visual development of the brain and can result in permanent visual loss, which is termed Amblyopia (often called lazy eye by lay people). Children with farsightedness (hypermetropia) in one eye have a constantly blurred image in that eye. The child adapts to this visually disruptive state by the brain turning off the blurred image in preference to using the clear image from the good eye. Over time, constant rejection of the blurred image results in permanent vision loss (ie, amblyopia). The standard treatment has been to correct the farsightedness with glasses or contact lenses, but the treatment often fails since many children refuse to wear the unbalanced, unbecoming glasses or cannot handle contact lenses. Amblyopia is present in approximately 2-3% of the pediatric population, and these children present a special problem for the pediatric ophthalmologist. Correcting the farsightedness with laser refractive surgery represents a new option for these children. Currently, there is very little data known on the use of laser surgery in children with farsightedness and amblyopia.
An important function of the Center is to train clinicians in the field of pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus. Training professionals interested in pediatric vision research will be done through a fellowship program and resident education. Education emphasizes the humanistic practice of medicine, perfecting clinical and surgical skills, and understanding the science behind the ocular problems.
Our fellowship program is one of 35 AAPOS-approved pediatric ophthalmology training programs located throughout the United States. It provides a unique educational experience, state-of-the-art training in pediatric eye surgery and excellence in clinical care, and prepares the fellow for both the clinical practice of pediatric ophthalmology as well as an academic career. This fellowship program directly supports the clinical care of children in the Los Angeles area.
A major aspect of the Foundation is to provide world-class clinical and surgical care to children with ocular disease. A wide range of services are offered, including something as basic as prescribing glasses or contact lenses to performing state-of-the-art, complex surgical procedures. The common threads, regardless of the activity, are excellence and the concept that the needs of the child always come first. If we are not the best for a specific problem or disease, we will find the best and refer the patient.
Special Needs Clinic
Our goal is to provide a caring environment where all children can gain access to the highest level, medical and surgical care regardless of ability to pay. In this spirit, Dr. Wright and his team have cared for underprivileged children in the Los Angeles area, including those referred from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s COACH (Community Outreach Assistance for Children’s Health) program; a unique service where a specially-equipped van goes to the Los Angeles inner-city community and examines kids who would not otherwise receive care. COACH children identified with eye problems are referred to our office and seen at no charge if they are not covered by state aid. Services include surgery and glasses if indicated. Over 100 disadvantaged children from the Los Angeles area are cared for per month in our pediatric office. Families are served on the basis of medical need, not on ability to pay.
Coach for Kids
Venice Free Clinic
Vista Del Mar Child and Family Clinic
Los Angeles community in general
Child Sight Los Angeles - Helen Keller International
Support from the Wright Foundation allows us to perform volunteer work internationally as well as here at home. Dr. Wright has participated in over 7 ORBIS missions to different parts of the world where quality pediatric eye care is often poor and, in some cases, unavailable. In his most recent visit to Philippines, he spent a week in Cebu City caring for pediatric eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and eyelid disorders, as well as operating on children and adults eye with muscle problems. In fact, Dr. Wright operated on a Dr. Loren Ong, a local ophthalmologist with crossed eyes, who later spent a 1-year fellowship with Dr. Wright. He returned to Cebu City to serve the millions of people and train other doctors. Dr. Wright and his Fellows are very proud of the work they participate in through special programs such as ORBIS International.
Dr. Wright has worked with ORBIS administrators to design and set up a Pediatric Eye Center in Trujillo, Peru - an area in great need of qualified pediatric eye care specialists. Dr. Nancy Suarez from Peru, who helps staff the center in Trujillo, came to Los Angeles to train with Dr. Wright in the Fall of 2002 on a grant funded by ORBIS. She spent 3 months observing and assisting in the diagnosis and management of pediatric eye problems. The knowledge and experience she obtained through this program will help her greatly in this new endeavor. Dr. Wright will continue to consult and assist in the Center’s operations and progress.