Category: Sight + Sound Blog

Retinal Degenerations Webinar: Light at the End of the Tunnel

Sight + Sound Bites Logo

The Eye & Ear Foundation together with the Department of Ophthalmology proudly presents a lunchtime educational webinar series highlighting the research and clinical innovations at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The webinar, featuring José-Alain Sahel, MD and Leah Byrne, PhD, will cover basic information on retinal degeneration conditions, current treatment options, as well as advances in research and possible treatments. The webinar will conclude with a Q&A where attendees can ask their questions to the panel. We invite you to join us Thursday, August 6th at Noon. Please RSVP at After registering, you will receive a confirmation

Putting the Issue of Obstructive Sleep Apnea to Bed

Person Sleeping

It is an exciting time to be an otolaryngologist in the world of obstructive sleep apnea.  Clinical care pathways are rapidly changing, multidisciplinary collaboration is on the rise, and new treatment options are in development. Consistently ranked as one of the best otolaryngology programs in the country, faculty in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh continues to be at the forefront of these exciting new advances. What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea? In its simplest form, obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the collapse and blockage of the upper airway or breathing passage during sleep.  OSA has many

A New Era in Retinal Research

Retinitis Pigmentosa

The most common hereditary retinal dystrophy in the world is Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Over the past four years, the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, under the leadership of Dr. José -Alain Sahel, who has dedicated his career to the study and development of new treatments for hereditary retinal dystrophies, has placed Pitt at the forefront of research for RP around the world. Now, thanks in part to generous Eye & Ear Foundation donors such as Mr. Martin McGuinn, who established the Martin McGuinn Retina Research Fellowship, incredible progress is being made towards developing new

Gathering the Pieces to Help Solve the Problem of Sino-Nasal Cancers

Eric Wang, MD

The Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is consistently one of the most highly regarded departments in the country. A key component of this long-time success can be attributed to the pioneering efforts that have been made in the field of nose and paranasal sinus cancers. Sino-Nasal Cancers and the University of Pittsburgh Cancers in the nose and paranasal sinus are rare but tend to present at a late stage. The symptoms are very similar to many other common sinus and nasal complaints, including nasal congestion, increased nasal drainage, facial pressure, and nosebleeds. These shared

What is the Guerilla Eye Service?

Evan “Jake” Waxman, MD, PhD

Living up to their motto of “travel light and save sight,” Dr. Evan Waxman, along with ophthalmology residents and medical school students, take their “mobile eye clinic” to underserved communities around Pittsburgh three times a month. Vision loss is debilitating condition that affects millions of people around the world. Exasperating this problem is the fact that in many communities, vision care often takes a backseat to other necessities and responsibilities. While many eye diseases cannot be cured, in some patients, vision loss can be saved if the condition is diagnosed and treated early enough. Fortunately, physicians, residents, and students from

Three Years of the Survivorship Clinic: New Programs and New Research

Jonas Johnson, MD and Marci Nilsen, PhD, RN

In 2016, Jonas Johnson, MD, Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh, and Marci Nilsen, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor in the Department of Acute and Tertiary Care in the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing joined together to establish the UPMC Survivorship Clinic for Head and Neck Cancer. The clinic’s mission is to address the problem that many Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) patients face of fragmented, uncoordinated care while they are undergoing treatment and after they finish treatment. In the three years that the clinic has been open, it has evolved quite a bit. The

Big Data, Big Possibilities

By leveraging scalable computational power, machine learning offers the potential to predict outcomes of a person’s disease from real-world data extracted from electronic medical records. What is a Digital Twin? The Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh has invested time and resources into building an artificial intelligence model that would predict the way that a disease, such as macular degeneration, would progress in a patient and allow clinicians to test therapeutic interventions on a virtual patient or a ‘Digital Twin.’ Making an informed choice in your own treatment! The Digital Twin platform would use big data to show

Q&A with Dr. Andrew McCall, Otologist

Andrew McCall, MD

Sight & Sound launched a new feature with our most recent edition – a Question & Answer (Q&A) session with one of our popular University of Pittsburgh faculty members and UPMC clinicians. This series focuses on questions and concerns that clinicians are asked daily by patients. Additionally, Q&A will offer insight into a diverse mix of clinicians at the UPMC Eye Centers, ENT Clinics, Sleep, Sino-Nasal & Allergy, Swallowing & Balance Disorders, and Voice Centers! For this edition, Andrew McCall, MD, FACS, Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, is our inaugural Q&A subject. An

Restoring Vision with Optogenetics

José-Alain Sahel, MD

Dr. Sahel spoke about pioneering work in optogenetics, where scientists have attempted to, with success, restore the function of the cone cells in the eye that were not completely lost due to disease by utilizing light-sensitive algae. On Thursday, May 21, Department of Ophthalmology Chairman Jose-Alain Sahel, MD gave an honorary lecture (virtually) at Columbia University School of Medicine’s Edward Harkness Eye Institute. Dr. Sahel presented the twenty-third annual Ulrich Ollendorff, MD Lecture, titled ‘Gene Independent Strategies in Retinal Degeneration’ on scientific advances that he and his teams in Paris in Pittsburgh are contributing to the field. The Ulrich Ollendorff,

Reviving Retigabine for Tinnitus Podcast

Thanos Tzounopoulos, PhD

Tinnitus Talk, “a podcast on all things tinnitus,” interviewed Thanos Tzounopoulos, PhD, director of the Pittsburgh Hearing Research Center on his research on developing a drug to treat tinnitus. His work builds on the previously somewhat successful off-label tinnitus drug Retigabine (Trobalt). That drug was taken off the market due to severe side effects. Thanos is now attempting to re-develop it, without the side effects, and better targeted at the source of the neural hyperactivity perceived as tinnitus. In this episode, we speak extensively about Thanos’ theory of how tinnitus is generated in the brain and the role of (broken)