I had the opportunity to attend the winter study group meeting of PEDIG (Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group).  I recently became a PEDIG investigator, which admittedly is something I should have done a long time ago.  I am one of several investigators at my site (SUNY College of Optometry) and I can participate in the process of identifying, consenting and examining children enrolled in various PEDIG clinical trials.

“PEDIG is a collaborative network dedicated to facilitating multicenter clinical research in strabismus, amblyopia and other eye disorders that affect children.  The network, which was formed in 1997, is funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI).  There are currently over 100 participating sites with over 200 pediatric ophthalmologists and optometrists in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada participating in the network.”

During the meeting, I was engaged in discussions of clinical trials past, present and future.  The eye diseases included amblyopia, intermittent exotropia, optic neuritis, myopia, retinopathy of prematurity, pediatric cataracts and hyperopia.  Everyone at that meeting is dedicated to advancing clinical care by asking the most important clinical questions and answering them via top quality research.  I learned a great deal in a relatively short time, not only about the most current research in pediatric eye disease, but also about the investigative process.  PEDIG is responsible for some of the most important clinical research that has been completed since the network was formed, especially in the areas of strabismus and amblyopia.  The network has conceived and designed  these clinical trials, enrolled eligible patients, monitored their progression through the study, compiled the data, analyzed and disseminated the results and written the manuscripts that have changed clinical practice.

The collaborative efforts of optometrists, ophthalmologists, statisticians, vision scientists and administrative support has really moved the dial in evidence-based practice. It takes a village to move these clinical trials from beginning to end, and PEDIG is one mighty village!