Center for Vision Restoration Of UPMC-Pitt Gets $3 Million Gift From Louis J. Fox

Issue Date: 
July 6, 2009
Louis J. FoxLouis J. Fox

The Center for Vision Restoration of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh received a $3 million gift from Louis J. Fox, a Pennsylvania native and Pitt graduate. UPMC has pledged to match Fox’s donation to the center. Fox (A&S ’64), a retired commodity merchant banker and trader, has embraced the center’s mission to discover cures for blindness and vision impairment through a joint program of the UPMC Eye Center and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“His generous gift will aid us in our efforts to pioneer comprehensive, patient-driven research and clinical therapies to treat people who, through disease, accident, or injury, have limited sight. To honor his generosity, the center will now be known as the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration,” said the center’s executive director, Maj. Gen. (retired) Gale Pollock, who, as the former Deputy Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, recognized the need to find ways to restore lost vision.

More than one in 10 of all combat wounds during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been eye injuries and, in some cases, have left service members with impaired vision, Pollock said. Unfortunately, there often is very little that can be done to restore sight after severe eye trauma. In addition, the World Health Organization estimates that about 120 million people worldwide are visually impaired as a result of  cataracts, corneal scarring, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other conditions.

Fox was diagnosed 10 years ago with central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), an incurable condition caused by blood vessel obstruction. It quickly left him with life-changing vision loss, first in his right eye and then in his left three years later. More than 100,000 Americans are believed to have CRVO, estimates show.

“Before my situation, I knew very little about vision loss,” said Fox, who is married with two grown children and currently resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Taconic, Conn. “As an avid pilot and sailor, I had taken my good vision for granted. Losing it has been extremely difficult. I learned of the Center for Vision Restoration at UPMC soon after it was established in September 2008, and of the promising work being done here.

“My heartfelt desire is that my contribution speeds the discovery and development of therapies that will make it possible for people to see again,” he added.

The Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary research and clinical program dedicated to ocular regenerative medicine and improving quality of life for the vision-impaired. A joint program of the UPMC Eye Center and the Pitt-UPMC McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Fox Center’s main focus is discovery and development of new cures for blindness and visual impairment, especially for those with problems affecting the retina, optic nerve, cornea, and lens. Through basic and clinical research, it seeks to provide vision restoration through the augmentation of existing visual pathways or by providing vision through nonvisual means.