Big science prize goes to new approaches on corneal disease

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A Dutch and a Swedish scientist are sharing a €1 million ($1 million) eyesight prize from a Portuguese foundation for their innovative work on corneal diseases.

Gerrit Melles, from the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery in Rotterdam, has revolutionized the surgical treatment of corneal disease, the Champalimaud Foundation said Wednesday in announcing the winners of its annual Vision Award.

The Lisbon, Portugal-based foundation said Claes H. Dohlman, of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology, has reshaped how medicine understands the cornea, developing several innovative treatments.

Their separate work has made it possible to restore the eyesight of millions of people while preventing blindness in others, the Champalimaud Foundation said in its citation.

Corneal injuries or disorders have for years been one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, and the two prizewinners have “decisively changed and accelerated the path to the treatment of these problems,” the foundation said.

The Vision Award was created in 2007 and claims to be one of the world’s largest scientific prizes.

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