Eye Health Research Associates to Speak

Eye Health Research Associates to Speak


Two Syracuse University professors who joined multiple teams in a behavioral intervention and clinical trial for treating a common and devastating eye disease in the Egyptian Delta will speak at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, at SUNY Cortland.

Sandra Lane, a specialist in public health, food studies and nutrition, and anthropologist Robert Rubinstein will discuss “Anthropological Contributions to Preventing Blinding Eye Disease in Egypt.”

The talk continues SUNY Cortland’s 2012-13 Rozanne M. Brooks Lecture Series, which this year is on the theme of “Culture and Health.”

All events in the Brooks Lecture Series are free and open to the public, and take place in Moffett Center, Room 2125.

The discussion will feature a reception at 4 p.m. to welcome the speakers. The reception takes place in the Rozanne M. Brooks Museum in Moffett Center, Room 2126.

Trachoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world. Many universal studies on the illness find that 75 percent of children in rural Egypt showed signs of having at least one episode of the disease in the first year of their lives.

During the lecture, Lane and Rubinstein will describe the essential contribution of anthropology to components of the SAFE Strategy, an innovative public health approach designed to treat and prevent trachoma. This approach has been adopted by the World Health Organization and the International Trachoma Initiative as the method for eliminating trachoma by 2020.

In the 1980s, Lane and Rubinstein were research associates in a multinational study of trachoma-caused blindness. To conduct their overseas research, Lane and Rubinstein temporarily relocated to Egypt.

According to Rubinstein, the ailment, which can eventually produce an inverted eyelid and opaque cornea, is extremely infectious.

At the time of Lane and Rubinstein’s work in Egypt, there were simultaneously half a dozen other studies on trachoma. Observations from these studies suggested to Lane that there may be possibilities for a cure.

In the 1990s Lane was one of the first to discover a behavioral intervention that helped to eliminate some of the infection. A team of researchers, including Lane and Rubinstein, conducted a community-based intervention to control the disease.

The intervention was an attempt to prevent disease transmission. The community was introduced to the daily washing of children’s faces with soap and water and the administration of antibiotics as well as an increase in access to water and sanitation.

 After months of this change in behavior, it was discovered that the risk of being infected by trachoma had lowered by a third.

Land and Rubinstein continue to focus on conflict and health, inconsistencies in access to health care and the consequence of those inconsistencies for the health of populations.

Articles by Lane, Rubinstein and their colleagues have been published in various scientific journals including the August 2006 publication in the Anthropology and Medicine interdisciplinary journal.

Lane received her M.A. in anthropology and M.P.H. in epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley. In a joint program between the University of California, Berkeley, and San Francisco, she received a Ph.D. in medical anthropology.

Rubinstein received his M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Binghamton University. He also received an M.S. in community health sciences at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

This series is sponsored by a grant from Auxiliary Services Corporation (A.S.C.) and the Cortland College Foundation.

For more information, contact the lecture series organizer and Brooks Museum director, Sharon R. Steadman at 607-753-2308.