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December 2010/January 2011

Ask the Doctor

How can I participate in a clinical study at NEI?

Catherine Meyerle, M.D.
Catherine Meyerle, M.D.
Staff Clinician
National Eye Institute

Clinical studies help researchers answer important medical questions with the help of volunteer participants, says NEI ophthalmologist and researcher Catherine Meyerle, M.D. Some clinical studies in vision are designed to test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments. In other observational types of clinical trials, known as natural history studies, researchers track the course of an eye disease over time.

NEI supports dozens of clinical trials per year, for conditions ranging from pediatric eye diseases to aging eye diseases. These studies take place at the NEI in Bethesda, Md., or in clinics, hospitals, universities and eye care offices throughout the country.

Taking part in a clinical study helps scientists, other participants, and society in general. "If you participate in a clinical trial, you can often receive medical care while contributing to research that may ultimately benefit you or others," Dr. Meyerle says.

Each clinical study has different requirements that a person must meet in order to participate. If you think you might be eligible for a particular study, you can schedule an appointment for a medical screening.

"Sometimes when people call about a particular eye condition, we may not have an active clinical study of that disease," Dr. Meyerle says. "However, they should check back a year later because we're always starting new studies."

Check out all the clinical studies that NEI currently supports at, or for more information, call the NEI Patient Recruitment Office at 1-800-411-1222 (for TTY, call 1-866-411-1010 or email

For more information about how you can be part of eye research, visit The Eye Clinic.

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