Weill Cornell Medical College recently received a $287,000 grant from New York City, that will fund improvements in its ophthalmology services — medicine for eye diseases — geared toward diabetic patients.
The grant –– spearheaded by city Council Member Jessica Lappin (D-5th District) –– will allow WCMC to make several new purchases. The new equipment includes an ocular coherence tomography scanner, which helps diagnose diabetes, and a laser diode machine, which is used to treat damaged blood vessels in the eye, according to a WCMC press release.
Funding for the grant was included in the New York City budget for the 2013 Fiscal Year. Lappin said the grant was a reflection of the city’s support for the work of WCMC researchers.
“WCMC is one of our most preeminent medical institutions, so I am always happy to find ways to ensure they are thriving in the city,” Lappin said in an interview with The Sun.
Lappin said the grant’s focus is necessary due to the prevalence of the disease, noting that nearly 26 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes.
“More New Yorkers are suffering from diabetes, and I’m proud to help Weill Cornell purchase innovative equipment to help detect and treat this disease,” Lappin said.
In particular, the city was spurred to action because of the rapidly increasing number of city residents who suffer from diabetic retinopathy, or damage to the retina as a result of diabetes, according to Lappin.
This condition occurs when high blood sugar levels damage ocular blood vessels. Without early detection and treatment, it can eventually lead to vision loss. In adults aged 20 to 74, it is the leading cause of new cases of blindness, according to the press release.
“WCMC is in my district so I have a great relationship with them, but I think this may be the very first time they had asked me for a grant,” Lappin said. “Then, when they explained to me what it was for, it seemed like a very worthy thing to fund.”
Prof. Donald J. D’Amico, chair of WCMC’s ophthalmology department, said the grant will enable researchers to better assist patients who are afflicted with the disease.
“Diabetic retinopathy, although treatable if detected early, remains the number one cause of vision loss in people during their most productive working years,” D’Amico said. “This new equipment will help us prevent that fate for untold numbers of New Yorkers.”
D’Amico expressed his appreciation for the efforts of Lappin and the city council in securing the grant money.
“We extend our deepest gratitude to Councilwoman Lappin and the entire New York City Council for supporting us in the fight against diabetes,” D’Amico said in the press release.