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Innovative Research to Find a Cure

At Glaucoma Research Foundation, we share your sense of urgency to do all we can to speed the pace of discovery for a cure for glaucoma.

We also provide opportunities to make everyone aware that early vision testing and treatment are the only ways to diagnose this disease and preserve vision. Thanks to our generous donors we have invested over $75 million to advance knowledge about how glaucoma steals sight and discover ways vision loss can be prevented and even restored. As the largest non-profit foundation focused exclusively on glaucoma, we work to attract new scientists and ideas to glaucoma research and to create the best opportunities for scientists to work collaboratively to preserve and restore vision.

Shaffer Research Grants

Our Shaffer Grants provide early, seed funding for creative pilot research projects of novel ideas and for scientists beginning their careers in glaucoma research. These one-year awards of $50,000 enable promising scientists to begin a career in glaucoma research and do the experiments to support their hypotheses. Typically, the scientific results allow the researchers to apply for and obtain larger, more competitive funding from the National Eye Institute of the NIH and from their university and other foundations. Many Shaffer Grant awardees have gone on to make significant contributions to improve glaucoma treatments and the quality of life for glaucoma patients. Others have advanced academically to head research and clinical departments of glaucoma and ophthalmology.

Catalyst for a Cure

Since the first Catalyst for a Cure Initiative in 2002, these multi-year, multi-laboratory, collaborative research teams have brought important new ideas to the glaucoma field and have expanded knowledge of the mechanisms by which retinal ganglion cells are damaged and die in glaucoma. These key understandings are the first significant steps toward slowing or preventing vision loss by using targeted interventions to protect the optic nerves from glaucoma damage.

Catalyst for a Cure scientists working together helped to redefine glaucoma as a neurodegenerative disease similar to other age related neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. Building on this research, other Catalyst for a Cure scientists identified new biomarkers of glaucoma for earlier diagnosis and for monitoring the effectiveness of treatment. And most recently a team of Catalyst for a Cure scientists is working to discover new treatments to preserve the retinal nerve cells and even replace lost nerve cells to restore vision.

The investments in research from our donors and others is making a tremendous difference in the treatments available today to prevent vision loss from glaucoma compared to even a few years ago. New drugs and minimally invasive glaucoma surgical devices that lower eye pressure and new clinical trials of drugs to prevent glaucoma damage when lowering pressure isn’t sufficient are helping patients preserve their vision. Together we can continue the scientific progress to discover more effective treatments and ways to restore vision lost to glaucoma. Your generous donations make this research possible.

Fortunately, when glaucoma is discovered early, before loss of vision, excellent, available treatments can normally preserve vision for a patient’s lifetime. For those who learn they have glaucoma after vision has already been lost, treatment can often stop further loss and with new research may someday be able to restore lost vision.

Importance of Vision Testing

In addition to supporting this critical research, please let your family and friends know about the importance of regular vision testing to diagnose glaucoma early and prevent vision loss. Relatives of glaucoma patients are at higher risk of developing glaucoma as are people of color and older adults. Preserve your vision and your family and friends’ vision for a lifetime by encouraging regular vision tests and investing in glaucoma research.

Your contributions make possible all of our research and educational programs. The research that you fund literally saves sight for glaucoma patients around the world.


Posted on May 4, 2022

Thomas M. Brunner

Thomas M. Brunner

Tom Brunner is the President and CEO of Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) in San Francisco, California. He joined GRF in 2003 after a successful 30-year career in the ophthalmic laser business.