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Epidemiology at the University of Ottawa Eye Institute is divided into clinical epidemiology and public health epidemiology. Dr. Buhrmann is an expert in public health epidemiology.

Clinical epidemiology is the area of clinical medicine that deals with the determinants and distribution of eye diseases and their treatment. Public health epidemiology is concerned with tracking the main causes of blindness in large populations (e.g. all Canadians) and determining the preventable reasons for blindness at the population level.

Early discoveries occur in the laboratory and are tested in animal models. Once research gets to people and beyond we enter the world of epidemiology (the yellow part of the diagram). Clinical research conducted with patients may be:

  1. Observational: where patients are observed in the natural course of their diseases and treatments, such as our excimer laser research, our multiple sclerosis diagnostic research, our genetic testing research, or our AIDS risk factor research, or
  2. Experimental: where patients are randomized to one treatment group or another (our cornea ulcer study, glaucoma laser study, dry eye studies or macular degeneration studies).

Once enough research is done, it is summarized in a formal and rigorous fashion called systematic reviews – Knowledge Synthesis. The area of clinical research that deals with passing valid information on from established research to clinical practice is called Knowledge Transfer.

Public health epidemiology is concerned with tracking the main causes of blindness in large populations (e.g. all Canadians) and determining the preventable reasons for blindness at the population level. At present, the Eye Institute is involved in a study evaluating the current sources of blindness registry data in Canada.