Healthy Vision Lab

Andrew Williams’ research program aims to improve vision health by understanding and addressing barriers to care. This Healthy Vision Lab brings together epidemiology, big data analysis, and health services research to address important public health issues in ophthalmology, such as follow up for chronic eye disease and social determinants of vision health.

He is also leading a project to engage directly with patients who are at high risk of becoming lost to follow up. Patient navigators are healthcare workers or laypersons who help patients with barriers to care and provide coordination and guidance in the health system. Patient navigators have been used extensively to help patients manage chronic diseases, and they may be a valuable resource for glaucoma patients who miss scheduled appointments. He recently received funding from the American Glaucoma Society to launch a pilot project to assess the feasibility of a patient navigator to contact no-show glaucoma patients. This project will be augmented with expertise from Public Health faculty and the Department’s own Patient Champion, who is an expert at providing social work resources to our patients. The results of this feasibility study may inform a future randomized trial and cost analysis to assess the impact and sustainability of patient navigation to help glaucoma patients maintain regular follow up.

The group also has projects underway to assess barriers to vision care in the community and to screen for social determinants of health. We recently surveyed attendees of a free vision screening event about barriers to eye clinic attendance, and these results will deepen our understanding of the needs in our community. Additionally, we are exploring the feasibility of implementing a screening questionnaire for social determinants of health in the electronic health record. Screening questions would help to identify patients’ needs and to connect them with necessary resources. Furthermore, data collection on social factors could also allow for analysis between social determinants and clinical outcomes of eye disease, as these social factors may play an important, and yet under-examined, role in modeling the clinical disease course.

Advanced Mathematics to Advance Patient Care

Machine learning techniques have the potential to provide personalized predictions for individual patients based on their unique medical trajectories. These techniques, combined with big data, to which we are fortunate to have access to here in Pittsburgh, along with the collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and Carnegie Mellon University, can be helpful in areas such as, predicting disease, events like heart failure and epilepsy attacks, and even in situations where patients prepare for end-of-life care. These systems are expected to change medicine, especially in areas of predictive diagnosing.

Low Vision Center for the Advancement of Independence

This center, which will be an integral part of the new Vision Institute, will allow for the assembly of teams of clinicians, researchers, patients, and community partners focused on the following goals:

1. Evaluation of Needs

Identify patients’ needs and barriers to independent living at home, work and community. We will utilize healthcare specialists who are experts in conducting patient interviews and surveys. From this, we can conduct evaluation of function in specific domains and various environments, such the home or the workplace.

2. Evaluate Current Interventions and Assistive Technology

Patients with low vision use a variety of medical therapies and/or visual assistive devices. Another goal of LoV-CAI is to measure the efficacy of these interventions and to develop metrics for evaluating training, new technologies and their impact on a patient’s performance.

3. Develop New and Innovative Solutions

An important part of creating this Center is the platform it allows us to be able to partner with companies to improve, adapt and extend existing interventions based on what we learn from patients and their experiences.

Functional Vision Loss

What is it? How is it diagnosed? What are the challenges? What kind of vision rehabilitation is involved? And what does the future look like? Read this blog post to find out!

The Guerrilla Eye Service

The Guerrilla Eye Service of the UPMC Eye Center is dedicated to eliminating barriers to eye care for patients in the Western Pennsylvania area. The GES is staffed by students, residents and faculty who are dedicated to providing comprehensive eye care to the residents of our area who would otherwise go without.

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