ARPA-H Program Aims to Restore Vision Through Whole Eye Transplantation

Calvin Roberts, MD, announces ophthalmology’s moonshot at Hawaiian Eye and Retina 2024 meetings.

[Thorofare, NJ] January 25, 2024 – The time is now to bring together ophthalmology’s best researchers and leverage genetics, cell-based therapy and emerging microsurgical techniques to restore blindness through whole eye transplantation, according to Calvin Roberts, MD.

Roberts announced the launch of the Transplantation of Human Eye Allografts (THEA) program at Hawaiian Eye and Retina 2024. THEA, an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) initiative, will aim to restore vision in patients who are blind or visually impaired by reconnecting the nerves, muscles and blood vessels of whole donor eyes to the brain.

The research done at THEA will be a critical step toward successfully restoring vision through whole eye transplantation. “With THEA, we aim to revolutionize the reconnection of nerves to the brain and make these advancements accessible in the United States and around the globe, with the ambition to offer an alternative to lifelong blindness,” said Roberts, THEA program manager, in an ARPA-H press release.

“THEA is ophthalmology’s moonshot and Dr. Roberts’ presentation to the Hawaiian Eye and Retina audience is a call to arms to his fellow ophthalmologists,” said Joan-Marie Stiglich, Healio Chief Content Officer.

The program will focus on three key areas of research: retrieval and preservation of donor eyes; optic nerve repair and regeneration; and surgical techniques, immunology, and postoperative monitoring. Roberts invites ophthalmologists who are interested in joining the project to visit for more information. “There’s a lot to be done,” he said. “We are looking to find performers – people who can do this work. Come be a part of our team.”

The annual Hawaiian Eye and Retina meeting kicks off the year for eye care professionals and brings innovations and new projects to the forefront.

“The Hawaiian Eye meeting continues to lead the new year with valuable education and breaking news in the field of ophthalmology. We stand in full support of THEA and are excited for what the team will accomplish,” said Matt Holland, Healio Chief Operating Officer.

Additional information can be found on Healio | Ocular Surgery News, who reported on THEA on Jan. 11 and Jan. 13.


About Calvin Roberts
Calvin W. Roberts, MD, is President and Chief Executive Officer of Lighthouse Guild, the leading organization dedicated to providing exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals. Dr. Roberts is Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Weil Cornell Medical College and former Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Eye Care, at Bausch Health Companies.

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