The "demise" of diagnostic and research ocular pathology: temporary or forever?
PURPOSE: Several authorities have documented a significant decrease in support for modern eye pathology/pathology research laboratories. Indeed, many laboratories have closed or suffered marked cutbacks. The purpose of this report is to ask why this is so and to seek a possible means for reversing this trend. METHODS: Observations from the senior author's experience and a case from author's facility are analyzed. RESULTS: There are several reasons for ocular pathologists' difficulties, such as financial problems, lack of vision, personality conflicts, and problems with the departmental administration. Until recently, most research and development in several subspecialty fields of ophthalmology, including biodevices research, has been done primarily by engineers and in-house workers in industry. This precludes proper independent, nonbiased control and guidance from academia. Most ocular pathologists have not participated in this relatively new and wide-open field. CONCLUSIONS: We suggest a new realm of activity for today's newly trained ocular pathologists. Based on personal experience of two decades of fruitful collaboration with industry, we believe that ocular pathologists are uniquely trained to apply their expertise to various new fields of research that most pathologists today have not utilized. An important example is research on clinicopathological aspects of implantable biodevices. In addition, support and oversight should be provided by the major ophthalmic societies, such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in order to retain (even regain) control over this field. This is mandatory in order to control the safety and efficacy of new drugs and devices being introduced almost daily. Only then can clear differentiation between profit and patient welfare be achieved as potentially dangerous devices and techniques are let loose on the market. The field of "routine, descriptive" eye pathology is severely wounded and will return only in an attenuated fashion. In general, full-time support for ocular pathologists will not be possible unless they seek extra support from the private sector, engage in a concurrent clinical practice, or are supported by an endowed chair (a wonderful alternative).
Apple, DJ; Werner, L; Mamalis, N; Olson, RJ
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