Donald R. Korb, OD, FAAO
Member, Berkeley Optometry Hall of Fame
Donald R. Korb graduated from the Massachusetts College of Optometry. He is an affiliated Clinical Professor at the School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, also having served as a Regent’s Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a trustee at the Schepens Eye Research Institute, and divides his time between his optometric practice and research.
An internationally acclaimed lecturer, researcher, and clinician-scientist, Dr. Korb has made several landmark clinical observations. In 1962, he first described, using what he called a “split limbal technique,” the corneal response of central corneal clouding (CCC). Understanding that CCC was related to inadequate “venting” of the tears, Korb placed small fenestrations in rigid test lenses, which prevented CCC. This important discovery led to years of productive research in areas such as oxygen requirement and hypoxic effects on the cornea, lens oxygen transmissibility, and corneal oxygen uptake.
Dr. Korb and his colleagues were the first to describe 3 to 9 staining (1970), giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC, 1977), meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD, 1980), corneal scarring associated with keratoconus (1982), and lid wiper epitheliopathy (LWE, 2005). An expert in the field of dry eye, Dr. Korb was the co-founder of TearScience, Inc., and Ocular Research of Boston, which introduced Soothe XP, a lipid-based eye-drop treatment for dry eye. He also co-founded Corneal Sciences, Inc. (CSI), which developed over ten years the first thin membrane hydrogel (soft) contact lens, thereby introducing the concept of design architecture to the soft lens field. All modern soft-lens disposables now follow CSI guidelines and patents for thickness and form. Dr. Korb has also engineered the LipiFlow system of pulsating thermal compression of the meibomian glands for the restorative treatment of evaporative dry eye. He has stated that his “best work was in the development of the CSI membrane lens [‘most exciting project I have ever worked on’] and in understanding the obstruction of the meibomian glands and meibomian gland dysfunction.”
Donald Korb has authored over 100 publications in refereed scientific journals. He has been awarded 50 U.S. patents (and corresponding foreign patents), with other patents currently under review, in ocular diagnostic equipment, visual sciences, contact lens polymers, contact lens designs, ocular tests for dry eye, and ocular drugs and formulations. Among his more important professional associations, he has been a Project Manager (Polaroid Corporation); Founder, President, and Director of Clinical Research (Corneal Sciences, Inc—Developer of the CSI hydrogel lens); Director, Corneal Sciences Contact Lens Program (Syntex, Corporation); Founder and Director of Research (Koper Sciences, Inc); Founder, President, and Director of Clinical Research (Ocular Research, Boston); Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer (Corneal Sciences); and Chief Technology Officer (TearScience, Inc.).
In 2000 the Contact Lens Section of the American Optometric Association established the Donald R. Korb Medal for Excellence. He was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2007 and has received many other honors and awards, including Contact Lens Person of the Year, American Optometric Association, 1985; Feinbloom Award for Advancement of Visual Science and Clinical Excellence, American Academy of Optometry, 1986; First Memorial Morton D. Sarver Lecturer, School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, 1987; Founder’s Award, Contact Lens and Cornea Section, American Academy of Optometry, 1994; Montague Ruben Research Medal, International Society for Contact Lens Research, 1995; Regents’ Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley, 1995–96; Dr. Josef Dallos Award, Contact Lens Manufacturers Association, 2001; Bausch & Lomb Visionary Award, 2005; Pioneers’ Lecture, British Contact Lens Association, 2005; University of Houston College of Optometry Award for Distinguished Research on the Cornea and Contact Lenses, 2008; and BCLA Medal, British Contact Lens Association, 2010.