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November 8, 2023
Amblyopia is a condition characterized by poor vision, usually in one eye, due to a breakdown in the brain-eye connection. Commonly referred to as “lazy eye,” the condition is much more serious than the name suggests—it’s a leading cause of blindness and affects about one million people in Canada. The MUHC’s Dr. Alexandre Reynaud recognizes how challenging it is to live with visual impairments and is pioneering a research project that combines drug therapy and virtual reality in order to combat this disease.
Dr. Reynaud’s innovative work has been recognized by the Trottier Family Foundation and the R. Howard Webster Foundation, who have awarded him with this year’s prestigious Trottier Webster Innovation Award through the MUHC Foundation. Established in 2019, both foundations generously pledged a gift of $3 million to the MUHC Foundation to support outstanding research projects at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). The competition offers a $100,000 annual prize to advance the most innovative research project, recognizing its transformative potential and impact on patient care.
Dr. Reynaud’s pioneering approach combines targeted eye training and drug therapy, offering new hope for adults living with this condition. More specifically, Dr. Reynaud uses dichoptic training, which involves providing different visual stimuli to each eye, effectively retraining the brain to recognize sight and correct amblyopia. The research team simultaneously administers Donepezil, a drug commonly used to treat Alzheimer's disease. The idea is that Donepezil enhances brain plasticity, allowing it to "rewire" and restore normal function to the eye.
To facilitate dichoptic training, the research team will develop virtual reality software, an exciting and revolutionary treatment approach. Embodying the spirit of the Trottier Webster Innovation Award, Dr. Reynaud’s combination of innovative techniques holds immense promise for correcting amblyopia in adults, resulting in a greatly enhanced quality of life. The Trottier and Webster Foundations, along with the MUHC Foundation, are eager to support Dr. Reynaud’s transformative initiative, which has the potential to establish Quebec and the MUHC as global leaders in pioneering eye research.
There is currently no effective treatment for amblyopia, which underscores the urgency of Dr. Reynaud’s work. Visual impairment leads to significant barriers in daily life, especially in education and employment. In many cases, people with amblyopia are less likely to seek out education at all. By supporting Dr. Reynaud’s work, the Trottier Webster Innovation Award is investing in the people’s future, ensuring that all Quebecers have a fair shot at leading a meaningful life.
As we celebrate Dr. Reynaud's success, we invite you to be a part of this remarkable journey by supporting the MUHC Foundation. Your generous donations can help drive innovation and transformative research that will impact the lives of countless individuals. Together, we can make a difference and pave the way for a healthier future.
To donate and learn more about the ways you can help advance patient care, visit the MUHC Foundation.