Investiture of optometrist Donald R. Korb as an honorary doctor of the UPC

Investiture of optometrist Donald R. Korb as an honorary doctor of the UPC

Donald R. Korb, honorary doctor of the UPC

A programme to sponsor visual health

'Mirades solidàries' is an eye care programme sponsored by the CUV, the visual health clinic of the UPC's FOOT. Through this programme, companies and individuals can donate money to cover part or all of a specialised treatment to help improve the eyesight of vulnerable people. In addition to glasses, some of these patients need specialised care to solve their sight problems through visual therapy, low-vision aids or special contact lenses, which are provided by the CUV in a learning-service context.

The programme is part of the social action of the CUV, which serves people from the social services of town councils and social organisation all over Catalonia. The patients are treated by FOOT students supervised by teaching staff. When the patients need them, the CUV provides glasses or contact lenses provided free of charge by companies in the sector. Last year the CUV, directed by Professor Núria Tomàs, adapted more than 4,000 ophthalmic lenses. According to the CUV’s researchers, however, 5% of the 2,100 people treated every year need specialised eye care.

The initiative will begin at the end of 2018. A single donation amount of €500 has been set for all specialities, and the surplus from lower-cost services will be accumulated to finance new sponsorships or services with a higher cost.

The UPC awarded an honorary doctorate to the optometrist Donald R. Korb, a pioneer in evaporative dry eye and an authority on contact lenses and the ocular surface. Professor Jaume Pujol of the Terrassa School of Optics and Optometry (FOOT) acted as sponsor during the investiture, which took place at 11:30 a.m. on 30 May at the Lecture Hall of the Vèrtex building, Plaça Eusebi Güell, 6, Barcelona, and in live on UPCtv. The American scientist also became the honorary patron of the programme “Mirades solidàries” promoted by the University Vision Centre (CUV) to foster visual health care for people in situations of vulnerability

May 23, 2018

Donald R. Korb, a graduate of the New England College of Optometry (NECO) in Boston, USA, is an internationally acclaimed professor, researcher, inventor and clinician. He has made a major contribution to the research and development of tools for diagnosing and treating dry eye. He has authored more than 100 publications and about 60 patents, and was the first to discover that dry eye was mainly related to the oil produced on the outermost surface of the tear film. Korb found that this condition, which he called evaporative dry eye, is caused by the dysfunction of the meibomian glands at the rim of the eyelids. The discovery has paved the way for new, specific forms of treatment for evaporative dry eye that have improved the quality of life of a very large number of patients.

Dr. Korb also noticed that the discomfort experienced by many contact lens users is caused by the rubbing of a very small area of the upper eyelid on the surface of the lens, particularly when it is poorly hydrated and when the user does not take sufficient care in cleaning and maintenance. Dr. Korb proposed the term lid wiper epitheliopathy to describe the defects caused by mechanical friction on this area of the eyelid, which he related to symptoms of ocular dryness that led patients to stop using contact lenses.

Dr. Korb’s contributions have helped more than 50 million patients with contact lenses and tens of millions of patients with dry eyes.

A clinical professor at the Berkely School of Optometry in California for 22 years, Korb has also taught at prestigious US institutions such as the Boston University School of Medicine, NECO and the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, which is attached to the Harvard Medical School.

He has also founded or co-founded five research companies, including TearScience, which since 2005 has developed metrics and treatments for evaporative dry eye.

He is an inductee of the National Optometry Hall of Fame and has received over 40 awards, including the annual Donald R. Korb Medal of the American Optometric Association, the Founder’s Award of the American Academy of Optometry, the Montague Ruben Research Medal of the International Society for contact Lens Research, the British Contact Lens Association Medal, the Presidential Medal of NECO and two honorary doctorates.

Dr. Korb has achieved worldwide recognition in the academic and professional spheres, and is an authority on contact lenses, dry eye and the ocular surface. His contributions form part of the syllabus of many subjects in the bachelor’s degree in Optics and Optometry and have been the subject of many bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral theses.

The investiture, on UPCtv

The investiture which took place at 11:30 a.m. on 30 May at the Lecture Hall of the Vèrtex building, Plaça Eusebi Güell, 6, Barcelona, was also followed live on UPCtv.

The proposal to award the honorary doctorate to Dr Korb, approved by the Governing Council on 22 February, was made by the FOOT, with the support of the three professors who have received the School’s Optometrist of the Year Award: James Wolffsohn from Aston University, United Kingdom, Manuel González-Méijome from the University of Minho, Portugal, and Lyndon Jones, from the University of Waterloo, Canada. Jaume Pujol, a FOOT professor and a researcher at the Department of Optics and Optometry, acted as sponsor and presented the merits of Dr Korb during the investiture.

Coinciding with the investiture as an honorary doctor of the UPC, Dr Korb launched the programme “Mirades solidàries” as its honorary patron.

UPC honorary doctorates
So far, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) has awarded 33 honorary doctorates to people who have made contributions in various fields or who have shown a strong social commitment. In the near future the UPC will also award an honorary doctorate to the American computational scientist, mathematician and systems engineer Margaret Hamilton, a pioneer in the use of the term “software engineering” 50 years ago during NASA’s first Apollo missions.

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