Imagine a condition resulting in a dark spot in central vision due to a hole in the macula or central vision area of the retina (macular hole). This was an untreatable condition for over a century after its initial discovery. Professor Donald Gass of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute theorized that this was related to tangential traction by the vitreous gel in the center of the eye. Surgeons, such as Drs. Neil Kelly and Rob Wendel, observed that it was possible to close some macular holes with surgery by relieving the vitreous traction and placing a gas bubble to support the central vision area. This led to a national multi-centered clinical trial both to prevent progression of early stage macular holes (Vitrectomy for Prevention of Macular Hole Study) and to close full-thickness macular holes (Vitrectomy for Full Thickness Macular Hole Study). These studies did show significant benefit to vitrectomy surgery, and Dr. Gregg Kokame, the principal investigator of the Hawaii research study site, was the first to direct a Hawaii research center in a major multi-centered national clinical trial.
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