FAQS: Clinical Research

What is clinical research?

Clinical research involves medical research studies in which patients volunteer to participate. A clinical trial is used to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of an “intervention” to prevent, diagnose, or treat an eye disease or disorder. Research widens treatment options for patients, demonstrates our leading edge approach to clinical medicine, and provides our physicians with the opportunity to learn about emerging medical technologies.

What are the types of clinical trials?


Phase I clinical trials test a potential new treatment in a small number of volunteers to determine the best dosage and identify potential side effects.

Phase II clinical trials test a potential new treatment in a larger number of volunteers to learn more about how the body responds to the treatment, the optimal dose of the treatment, and how the treatment affects a certain eye condition.

Phase III and IV clinical trials may include hundreds or thousands of volunteers around the country. These studies compare a new treatment with existing treatments or no treatment to determine if the new treatment works better, the same, or not as well. Phase III clinical trials are conducted to get the new treatment approved by regulatory agencies. Phase IV clinical trials are conducted after approval to understand more about the treatment.

How are clinical trials in vision different from other clinical trials?

Eyes are one of many body parts that come in pairs. This feature gives researchers some additional options when they design the study. If an eye condition affects both of your eyes, one eye might be placed in the treatment group for a study and the other may be in the control group. Generally, the eye that will be treated is randomly assigned.

What are the Potential Benefits of Participating in a Clinical Study?

  • Access to promising new treatments often not available outside the clinical-trial setting
  • Treatment that may be more effective than the standard approach
  • Close monitoring, advice, care, and support by a research team of doctors and other health care professionals who understand your disease or condition
  • The opportunity to be the first to benefit from a new method under study
  • The chance to play an active role in your own health care and gain a greater understanding of your disease or condition
  • The chance to help society by contributing to medical research. Even if you don't directly benefit from the results of the clinical trial you take part in, the information gathered can help others and adds to scientific knowledge. People who take part in clinical trials are vital to the process of improving medical care.