University of Iowa working to end blindness with Wynn Institute - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

University of Iowa working to end blindness with Wynn Institute

Curing genetic blindness---it's a goal researchers at the University of Iowa are working towards. Friday, the university celebrated a big donation that will help the cause.

The campus now has a Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research.

Wynn, famous for building casinos, is sharing his fortune with the university. In August he donated $25 million for vision research

Wynn suffers from a degenerative eye disease. He's hoping his donation to the program, which has already made strides in research, will help them become even more successful.

Last year, Brian Walker's teenage son learned he has a disease that will eventually cause him to lose his sight.

"Prior to a year ago, we didn't know the disease existed, so we would have said his vision was actually very normal," said Walker.

The Walkers wanted to help their son in any way they could, and turned to the University of Iowa's Institute for Vision Research.

"Our goal is to leave no one behind in our quest to end blindness," said Robert Mullins, Associate Professor. 

The university studies genes, trying to find the cause of different genetic eye diseases. The goal is to develop effective treatments for all diseases that cause blindness, as rare or common as they may be.

"It makes anything being done in normal business or commerce mundane and flat by comparison," said Wynn.

Because of Wynn's donation, the University has renamed the institute in his honor.

"When you think of the University of Iowa, you think, in fact, of exactly what we're celebrating today," said Sally Mason, President of the University of Iowa.

The donation means the University will be able to continue its work for years to come, which families like the Walkers are glad to hear.

"Ultimately, we know there's going to be a cure," said Walker. "It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."

The Wynn institute has three major focuses: genetic testing, gene therapy, and stem cell research. Scientists at the university hope that many forms of blindness will be treatable in the next 10 years.

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