50+ Years in Ocular Imaging

Wisconsin Reading Center

The Wisconsin Reading Center (WRC) is a core retinal image reading lab within the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. The WRC, formerly known as the Fundus Photograph Reading Center, was founded on the enduring principles of intellectual honesty, quality, relevance, innovation, and staff satisfaction. Incepted in 1970 to support the seminal NIH funded trials of laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy (DR), the WRC has broadened its scope to the evaluation of many retinal diseases, including dry AMD, atrophic AMD, neovascular AMD, DME, retinal vein occlusion, posterior uveitis, inherited retinal disease, AIDS-related ocular disease and cataract.

In addition, the graders are proficient at grading population-based studies as well as safety studies in order to monitor retinal toxicity. The reading center has experience grading a variety of imaging types including color fundus photography, autofluorescence imaging, fluorescein and indocyanine green angiography, optical coherence tomography (OCT), OCT angiography, red reflex, slit lamp lens photographs, optic nerve head evaluations, adaptive optics, and all modes of ultrawide field imaging. Through its collaborations with NIH and NHANES, the WRC has developed the gold standard grading protocols for DR and AMD. These and other grading protocols have been employed in the successful completion of numerous Phase 3 trials for many indications. The WRC has been the reading center for over 300 clinical trials over the last decade.

Our Services

For early phase clinical trials, we offer a streamlined approach tailored to the needs of the study and sponsor.

    • Consultation on protocol design
    • Project management
    • Image analysis
    • Certification and regulatory compliance


2023 WRC Open House

The WRC was the reading center for both AREDS and AREDS2 studies and developed and validated the AMD Severity Scale. The WRC also supports many NIH grants including DPPOS, EDIC, ACCORD, ADVISE, LSOCA, MUST, META MUST, SUN, SCORE2, CAREDS2, and the APGS (ARIS) trial for macular degeneration. WRC also serves as the reading center for the DRCR Retina Network since 2004. The WRC is currently participating in many trials involving novel modalities such as ultrawide field color and angiography, adaptive optics, and OCT angiography. About 100,000 images are graded annually in a spectrum of retinal diseases.

CRO and Sponsor

The WRC PM serves as the primary point of contact for the CRO and Sponsor. There will be ongoing, open communication throughout the life of the project. WRC will attend regular conference calls to review progress and discuss any issues. Initial discussions will center on study start up activities such as site selection and qualification, document generation which includes image acquisition procedures and grading criteria, and timelines. Meetings held towards the end of the study will focus on final updates of grading, updates on remaining visits, and study closeout procedures.

In addition to scheduled zoom/teams calls, the WPC PM will communicate via email with updates on study progress. Throughout the study, the CRO/Sponsor will have 24/7 access to an online dashboard to evaluate progress for both site certifications and visit submissions. The WRC PM or imaging staff will be the first point of contact for the investigative sites regarding the ocular imaging requirements of the protocol.

Scientific Leadership

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Medical Director Barbara Blodi, MD, MALD

Early in her tenure as a UW faculty member, Dr. Blodi was the reading center PI for the seminal anti-VEGF trials for wet AMD (Marina and Anchor) and has recently published a conclusive study on macular atrophy in wet AMD (Ophthal Retina. 2023 Aug;7(8):661-671). In 2014, Dr. Blodi became the medical director of the WRC and has been involved in over 75 clinical trials including 9 NIH grants. Dr. Blodi serves on the Executive Committee of the DRCR Retina Network and has been the DRCR reading center PI for 11 trials. As a facilitator and impartial collaborator (she has no financial conflicts of interest), Dr. Blodi has been invited to participate in consensus groups such as CAM, the Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative, and the FDA Collaborative Community on Ophthalmic Imaging (CCOI); she is currently the AAO Subspecialty Day program chair. This year, Dr. Blodi was awarded the Macular Society’s Lawrence J. Singerman Medal for outstanding contributions to the advancement of science through retinal clinical trials. Dr. Blodi’s knowledge of clinical trials provides a vital bridge between the retina research community and industry stakeholders, facilitating invaluable communication within the field.

Research Director Amitha Domalpally, MD, PhD

Dr. Domalpally is an ophthalmologist with a PhD in Clinical Investigation from the University of Wisconsin. As an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Dr. Domalpally is the Research Director of the Wisconsin Reading Center. Dr. Domalpally is at the forefront of retinal research involving novel imaging outcomes in multicenter retinal trials. One of her primary scientific interests has been in dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Since 2007, Dr. Domalpally has published extensively with the National Eye Institute investigators on the Age Related Eye Disease Study2 (AREDS2). In the last 10 years, Dr. Domalpally has been first author on 4 AREDS2 papers, 3 of which focus on growth rate of geographic atrophy (GA). Many of Dr. Domalpally’s other publications focus on imaging precursors of dry AMD as well as comparing imaging modalities in GA progression. Dr. Domalpally has no financial conflicts of interest and serves as co-chair of the ARVO Retinal Program Committee. In addition, she is an editor of the ARVO journal, Translational Vision Science and Technology, and a frequent member of NEI Study Sections for grant reviews.

Actives Grants

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Michael Altaweel, MD

  • U10EY024531 09/30/14-07/31/20 – National Institute of Health/National Eye Institute

Macular Edema Treatment Trials Associated with MUST (META-MUST)

The major goals of this project are to investigate how uveitis and its association with high rates of visual loss, typically caused by structural complications, of which uveitic macular edema is among the most common. Furthermore, macular edema is the most frequent cause of visual loss among patients with uveitis. The two comparative effectiveness trials will provide an evidence base to guide clinicians in the management of uveitic macular edema.

  • UG1 EY028087 09/30/18-8/31/23 – National Institute of Health/National Eye Institute

Adalimimab vs. conventional Immunosuppression for uveitis (ADVISE) trial

The major goals of this project are to use a randomized, comparative effectiveness trial of adalimumav vs. conventional immunosuppression for the treatment of non-infectious intermediate, posterior and panuveitides.

Barbara Blodi, MD, MALD

  • U01DK094176 08/15/12-06/30/22 – The George Washington University/NIH

Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC)

EDIC is a multi-center, longitudinal, observational study that focuses on nephropathy and macrovascular complications. Dr. Blodi’s team at the Wisconsin Reading Center monitors the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy among study participants, providing training and certification in optical coherence tomography (OCT) for other personnel working on the EDIC grant, as well as grading the OCT images and associated tasks.

  • U10EY023521 09/30/13 – 03/31/20 – National Institute of Health/National Eye Institute

Study of Comparative Treatments for Retinal Vein Occlusion 2 [SCORE2] Comparative Trial

The major goals of this phase III trial is to study patients with central retinal vein occlusion. This comparative effectiveness research proposal aims to support a multicenter, prospective, randomized, phase III clinical trial to compare treatment protocols for decreased vision due to macular edema secondary to central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO).

  • R01EY025292 (Co-Investigator with Dr. Julie Mares) 06/01/15 – 05/31/20 – National Institute of Health/National Eye Institute

Macular Pigment in Aging and Disease

This research provides the first evidence from long-term studies to determine whether having a low density of lutein and zeaxanthin in the retina of the eye, predicts aging of the retina, the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration, and the loss of vision. Simple techniques exist to measure lutein and zeaxanthin density in the macula of the eye, safely and at low cost. Therefore, this research may provide the opportunity to identify individuals at risk for age-related eye disease in middle-age, and the opportunity to lower risk for eventual vision loss by increasing the intake of lutein and zeaxanthin in foods and supplements and adopting other strategies to lower risk, thereby preserving vision as they age.

  • U01DK061230 17-D18 08/01/16-04/30/20 – The George Washington University/NIH

Treatment Options for Type 2 Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth 2 (TODAY2): Phase 2 Long-Term Post-Intervention Follow-Up

The major goals of this project is to address gaps in knowledge about Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) in juveniles by continuing to follow a well-studied group of adolescents with T2D to identify causes and factors related to development of complications in young adulthood. Role: UW Principal Investigator

  • UG1EY023533 04/01/19-03/31/22 – Pennsylvania State University/NIH

The Study of Comparative Treatments for REtinal Vein Occlusion 2 [SCORE2] Long-term Follow up Study

The WRC provides the reading center component of the SCORE2 LTF trial including writing procedures and certification of imaging systems, project management, submission of images, grading of fundus photographs, OCT scans and fluorescein angiograms, data transfer to the coordinating center, quality control, and analysis of data derived from evaluation of fundus images, OCT and angiograms in conjunction with the study chair, co-chair and the coordinating center.

  • UW-Madison 07/01/19-06/30/20

Institute for Clinical and Translational Research $50,000

BIM Polymorphisms Impact on anti-VEGF Therapy for Neovascular AMD

The goal of this project is to determine whether patients that are non-responsive to anti-VEGF therapy have BIM polymorphisms with dysregulated VEGF and key pro-inflammatory mediator expression.

A leader in ophthalmic image evaluation since 1970

Pre-Residency Fellowships

The Wisconsin Reading Center offers Pre-Residency Fellowships to provide hands-on training and experience in ophthalmology. Our fellowships prepare candidates for residency programs by offering exposure to clinical research and advanced imaging techniques.

Learn More

Quick Reference Tutorials

All imaging technicians and equipment participating in any of our studies are required to be certified by the UW Wisconsin Reading Center for each specific study and each specific procedure within that study, prior to submitting study participant images.

Video Tutorials


301 S Westfield Rd, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53717
Phone: (608) 262-1334
Fax: (608) 265-9509

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