Professor and Chairman
Dr. D'Amico's research includes both basic science and clinical research in ophthalmology. In 1982, he obtained an NIH RO1 grant to examine the retinal toxicity of intravitreal gentamicin (generalized in later RO1 grants to intravitreal antibiotics), and was among the first to study the effects of this route of drug administration on retinal structure using electron microscopy. This work also helped to establish safe dosing regimens for patients with intraocular infections (endophthalmitis) occurring after cataract surgery, and aspects of this work continue in clinical recommendations today. This work with ocular infections led Dr. D'Amico to be the first to successfully treat cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis in patients, a therapy that is nowadays routine. His interest in diabetic retinopathy led him to examine experimental models of this condition, particularly with magnetic resonance techniques, in order to see if early vascular leakage is reversible. His interest in improving the instruments available for vitreoretinal surgery led to the development of the first erbium-YAG laser for clinical use. This laser technology offers exquisite precision and advantages for fine surgery compared to mechanical blades and scissors, but is costly compared to other instruments and consequently this laser has not been introduced for vitreoretinal surgery. Erbium-YAG lasers have demonstrated practical efficacy in cosmetic surgery (unrelated to Dr. D'Amico's laboratory) and Dr. D'Amico continues his work to bring the great precision of this laser in a practical instrument for retinal surgeons. He has also explored the role of transvitreal optic disc surgery for central retinal vein occulsion, as well as arterio-venous sheathotomy for branch retinal vein occlusion. In addition, he continues to innovate and test new technologies for vitreoretinal surgery, such as small gauge instruments and novel methods for improving visualization during retinal surgery. Most recently, Dr. D'Amico's research has focused on the rapidly expanding pharmacology, including anti-VEGF drugs and others, for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other retinal conditions. He has presented patient safety data before the FDA, is a participant in clinical trials and their associated safety and advisory committees, and is highly active in the ongoing development of retinal pharmacology to improve patient outcomes.