Ocular Cell Biology Group

The Ocular Cell Biology (OCB) group of Prof. Farhad Hafezi works on a number of clinical and experimental research projects. Their aim is to develop new and innovative therapeutic approaches for cornea and sclera. There are the major themes:

Improving current corneal cross-linking technology for progressive keratoconus
• Cross-linking with riboflavin and UV-A (CXL) is a treatment modality that was developed for the treatment of keratoconus, a biomechanical instability of the cornea affecting young people. CXL mechanically stiffens the cornea by photopolymerization: the combination of UV light to deliver energy and riboflavin (Vit B2) as a substance inducing cross-links in collagen has been established clinically in the early 2000. The aim of our laboratory is to optimize the currently used treatment parameters to make the treatment more efficient.

Photoactivated chromophore for the treatment of infectious keratitis (PACK-CXL)
• Our group has modified CXL technology to address one of the major causes of global blindness, corneal infection. We are currently working on irradiation systems that are able to kill more than 99% of pathogens (bacteria, fungi) on the ocular surface in the span of a few minutes, and without using antibiotics or antifungal medication.

Molecular mechanisms of corneal wound healing
• Following trauma or severe infection, a cornea often reacts with an excessive scar. In consequence, visual acuity is often poor in these cases. A better understanding of the molecular events leading to scar formation would enable us to modulate the process for the benefit of corneal transparency.

Improvement of current excimer and femtosecond laser technology
• These laser systems can be used in a multitude of medical conditions like corneal transplantation and in the treatment of diseases like keratoconus. These modes of action exist since less than 10 years and are the subject of continuous improvement.

Scleral cross-linking for the treatment of progressive myopia
• Progressive myopia is most often directly related to an excessive growth of the eye in its axial length. Cross-linking and reinforcing the sclera might be a means to stop this excessive growth, and arrest myopia progression.