JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs

April 27, 2000

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Wilmer Eye Institute Celebrates 75th Anniversary April 28-29

–Former Sen. John Glenn, ABC News' Hugh Downs Help Mark Occasion

The Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins will celebrate its 75th anniversary April 28 and 29 with a two-day international scientific and clinical conference and black tie gala. Former ABC News' "20/20" anchorman Hugh Downs will serve as master of ceremonies, and former astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn will speak. Both are former patients and members of the Wilmer Advisory Council.

Entertainment for the gala, to be held at 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore on April 29, will be provided by the Washington, D.C.-based satirical comedy troupe, "The Capitol Steps." More than 600 guests are expected.

Wilmer has been ranked number one in Ophthalmology by U.S. News and World Report magazine's annual "Best Hospitals" issue for eight of the past 10 years. Ophthalmology Times has given the Institute the same distinction for the past four years.

During the scientific conference, experts from Wilmer and around the world will discuss research and treatments for ailments including glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts, which collectively affect tens of millions. Presentations are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in the auditorium of the Thomas B. Turner Building, 720 Rutland Ave., at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"Wilmer is synonymous with excellence in ophthalmology, research, teaching and patient care," says Morton F. Goldberg, M.D., Institute director. "This anniversary occurs near the end of its most productive year, in which we received more grant money for research than any other ophthalmology department in the world, performed more than more than 11,000 laser operations and saw more than 110,000 patients."

Goldberg predicts the next century in his field will see transplantation of the human retina to treat blindness, the development of gene therapy for common eye diseases, an implantable photo microchip to restore eyesight to some blind people, and drug therapy to control abnormal blood vessel growth that can lead to vision loss.

Named for William Holland Wilmer, M.D., who in 1925 left his Washington, D.C., practice to establish a comprehensive eye center at Johns Hopkins, the Institute is home to faculty who are credited with the development of one of the original argon lasers used to halt vision loss caused by diabetes, age-related macular degeneration and other diseases; showing that blindness in premature infants could be prevented by reducing excess oxygen in incubators; perfecting extended-wear contact lenses and pioneering the specialty of neuro-ophthalmology as well as the country's first centers for genetic eye disease and preventive ophthalmology. Over three-quarters of a century, the Institute has grown from five full-time faculty members at one site in East Baltimore to 118 full-time faculty members at 10 sites around the state, including Rockville and Frederick. The number of major surgeries performed at Wilmer each year has increased from 550 to more than 7,000, and the annual operating budget has skyrocketed from $83,500 to $47.9 million.

For more information or to interview Goldberg or other Wilmer experts, please contact Karen Infeld at 410-955-1534 or kinfeld@jhmi.edu. Related Web sites:

Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins: http://www.wilmer.jhu.edu

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions: http://hopkins.med.jhu.edu

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