Grant Recipient’s Research Explores Faster, Safer Recovery from PRK

Xiangjun Chen MD, a 2015 ASCRS Foundation Research Grant recipient, is involved in a study that may lead to quicker visual recovery and lower infection risk for patients undergoing PRK. While PRK has proven to be an effective treatment to correct vision (reducing dependency on glasses or contact lenses) it does have its drawbacks—namely slow visual recovery and discomfort in the immediate postoperative period.

“The epithelial removal during the surgery and the postoperative re-epithelialization process are assumed to be the key factors related to these issues,” said Dr. Chen. “Our research aims to find a way to reduce the postoperative discomfort and to facilitate the re-epithelialization process in order to speed up the visual recovery period.”

Dr. Chen’s work will benefit both patients and surgeons.

“If the results lead to an effective refinement of the PRK protocol, patients may benefit from a safer procedure without the current disadvantages of uncomfortable, lengthy recoveries,” she said. “At the same time, the modified procedure may also appeal to surgeons because it will lead to fewer patient complaints.”

Dr. Chen plans to finish the project by the summer of 2016.

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Ashley Brissette BSc, MD
2015 Resident Excellence Winner

Residency: PGY-4 Ophthalmology, Queen’s University

While some of the ASCRS Foundation’s Resident Excellence winners are drawn to ophthalmology by mentors or moments from medical school, Ashley Brissette BSc, MD was attracted by the field’s surgical advances.

“I loved the variety of procedures and was excited about new techniques on the horizon. Even today I am always looking forward to new innovations in this field,” she said.

Her residency has lived up to her expectations “It has been a wonderful experience. My current work is a mix of clinical and basic sciences research in topics such as dry eye, corneal transplant techniques, and ergonomics for injury prevention. I also have an interest in global eye health and have worked with ORBIS on two separate programs in Peru and Vietnam.”

While Dr. Brissette enjoys the diversity of her work, her greatest satisfaction is seeing its impact. “The best reward is seeing the change in practice due to your research. One of my first studies looked at the need for close follow-up after removal of a corneal foreign body. I’m happy to say our center now practices based on the guidelines we set forth.”

Even with those rewards, Dr. Brissette acknowledges the challenges. “The biggest challenge is balancing my residency with my research aspirations,” she pointed out.  “However, my program is extremely supportive, whether for funding to travel to conferences or dedicated research time for clinical studies. Their help has been absolutely essential.”

While meeting the demands of her busy schedule, Dr. Brissette is also looking ahead to a future fellowship.  “I will be applying for a cornea fellowship to start in 2016, and have just started my applications. When finished with training, I would love to continue my research in corneal transplants in the hopes of further refining my technique and improving outcomes.”