Department of Ophthalmology
HistoryIn 1947, Tsutomu Sato was nominated as the first professor at the Research Institute of Ophthalmology at Juntendo University School of Medicine. Since then, Dr. Sato has been the driving force behind ophthalmology clinical practice and research in Japan. Clinically, he quickly imported and implemented diagnostic and therapeutic techniques from the US and Europe. He also developed Sato's method of posterior keratotomy, which opened the way for today's corneal refractive surgery. While Sato's techniques raised many issues about surgical procedures, they also provided posterity with many of insights, including the importance of corneal endothelial cells and the idea of correcting refraction by using morphological change in the healing of corneal tissue injury. Dr. Sato initially promoted the practical use of the contact lens in Japan. He was committed to research on the etiology of myopia, trachoma, corneal wound healing, and contact lenses.
After 1960, when Akira Nakajima was nominated as a professor and began directing the Institute, it led Japan in the number of patients treated at an ophthalmic institute and in the success of surgery. Research at the Institute covered such diverse subjects as molecular biological, immunological, and electrophysiological studies on chorioretinal degeneration, vitreous diseases, uveitis, and glaucoma. The prevention of blindness was aggressively instituted, with the WHO Pacific West Region Corporation Center for Blindness Control founded in 1980.
Since 1989, when Atsushi Kanai was appointed as a professor at the Institute, histopathological research on corneal dystrophy and genomic research on candidate genes associated with triggering and determining the severity of corneal dystrophy began being intensively conducted.
Since 2003, when Akira Murakami was appointed as a professor at the Institute, research on contributing to clinical diagnostic and therapeutic practice took priority. Currently ongoing research includes the detection of candidate genes associated with hereditary chorioretinopathy, corneal dystrophy, glaucoma, optic nervous diseases, and the development of genetic therapies for these diseases. We have also been working to understand the pathological profiles of ocular inflammatory diseases such as allergy, uveitis, and infections to develop therapeutic modalities for them, to regenerate corneal endothelial cells, and to clarify the development of keratoconus. Another important axis of our Institute is public health approaches for preventing blindness, working with the World Health Organization (WHO), which have been conducted from the time of Dr. Nakajima.