Glaucoma Research Foundation

The Cure is in Sight.

aka GRF   |   San Francisco, CA   |


The mission of the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) is to cure glaucoma and restore vision through innovative research. Founded in 1978 in San Francisco, GRF funds glaucoma research worldwide and serves as the leading information source for patients and their families. GRF is committed to helping researchers achieve vision restoration for glaucoma patients and find a cure for glaucoma. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, and vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible. Currently there is no cure, and everyone is at risk for developing this blinding disease. It is estimated that by 2020, 80 million people worldwide will have glaucoma. GRF is dedicated to improving the lives of glaucoma patients and funding innovative research to find a cure.

Ruling year info


President and CEO

Mr. Thomas M. Brunner

Main address

251 Post St Ste 600

San Francisco, CA 94108 USA

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NTEE code info

Eye (H41)

Blind/Visually Impaired Centers, Services (P86)

IRS filing requirement

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Currently, vision loss from glaucoma is permanent and irreversible. There is no cure for glaucoma and everyone is at risk for developing this blinding disease. It is estimated that by 2020, 80 million people worldwide will have glaucoma. Glaucoma is a complex disease in which damage to the optic nerve leads to progressive vision loss. It is actually a group of diseases — the two main types are open-angle and angle-closure, which are marked by an increase of intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye. All current glaucoma treatments target lowering the IOP. The most common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, is hereditary. Family history increases risk of glaucoma four to nine times, meaning if members of someone’s immediate family have glaucoma, they are at a higher risk for glaucoma than the rest of the population. Those of African, Latino, and Asian descent are also at higher risk for glaucoma.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Research Funding - Catalyst for a Cure (CFC)

A unique approach to research developed by Glaucoma Research Foundation to accelerate the pace of discovery toward a cure for glaucoma. It involves bringing together scientists from different backgrounds to work collaboratively to understand glaucoma and find ways to cure all types of glaucoma and restore lost vision.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

1-year grants awarded in the amount of $50,000.

We support new high-impact clinical, epidemiological and laboratory research based on our strategic research goals.

Strategic Research Goals
•Protect and restore the optic nerve
•Accurately detect glaucoma and monitor its progress
•Find the genes responsible for glaucoma
•Understand the intraocular pressure system and develop better treatments
•Determine the risk factors for glaucoma damage using systematic outcomes data

Core Values
•Involve people with glaucoma in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs.
•Encourage collaboration among experts in many fields of study to achieve GRF goals.
•Communicate research goals and results to the scientific community and the public.
•Ensure that new glaucoma treatments maintain or improve individuals’ quality of life.
•Encourage innovative clinical trial studies and laboratory research.
•Develop cell and animal models of glaucoma to support research studies.
•Facilitate and support the development of physician-scientists to advance glaucoma research.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Our website,, and printed publications, including our booklet, "Understanding and Living with Glaucoma" and our tri-annual newsletter, "Gleams,"
assist patients and their families in coping with glaucoma by providing general information on the disease as well as updates in current research. The website provides resources for finding eye doctors, glaucoma support networks, financial agencies and medication guides.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Glaucoma Research Foundation's bold vision is a future free from glaucoma. Our mission is to cure glaucoma and restore vision through innovative research. With the dedicated support and involvement of our donors, Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) invests in promising glaucoma research and serves as a primary source of information and education for glaucoma patients and their caregivers. Those affected by glaucoma turn to GRF to understand the disease, learn more about treatments, and receive updates on new medical therapies to help prevent blindness from glaucoma. Through our website, events, lectures, webinars, blog, videos, and social media channels, Glaucoma Research Foundation provides updates on research to find a cure, necessary information about how glaucoma is diagnosed and treated, reports about the development of new types of treatments, and forums for glaucoma innovation to help patients living with glaucoma. In our communications we emphasize the importance of eye exams because early detection and treatment are currently the only ways to preserve vision. Glaucoma Research Foundation provides funding for promising pilot research projects and also funds innovative collaborative research projects aimed at better understand this complex disease and speeding the pace of finding a cure for glaucoma.

Our strategic imperatives begin with research. Our primary strategy is to increase and accelerate innovative research for improved glaucoma therapies, vision restoration, and a cure. We also empower glaucoma patients with the information they need to prevent vision loss and improve quality of life. We serve as a trusted source of comprehensive, compassionate, accessible, unbiased and accurate information for glaucoma patients. We regularly inform and engage our constituents as well as the general public by communicating the Glaucoma Research Foundation mission, programs, and success. We increase awareness of glaucoma nationally and internationally. We strive to continuously improve the effectiveness of our investments in research, education, support, and communications.

Glaucoma Research Foundation provides critical funding for promising pilot research projects. To date, we have awarded more than 250 grants to explore new ideas in glaucoma research. Known as “Shaffer Grants for Innovative Glaucoma Research” in honor of GRF founder Dr. Robert N. Shaffer, the Shaffer Grants continue our longstanding commitment to one-year incubation grants to explore novel and promising ideas in the study of glaucoma. Armed with evidence made possible by our research grants, scientists can often go on to secure the major funding necessary to bring their ideas to fruition. We consider it vital to invest funds in new high-impact research that may lead to major government and philanthropic support. All Glaucoma Research Foundation grants to explore new ideas are in the amount of $50,000. We also fund research through an innovative collaborative research model: Catalyst for a Cure. The Catalyst for a Cure consortium is a team of four principal investigators and their laboratories working together to accelerate the pace of discovery toward a cure for glaucoma. Different from typical research models where scientists work individually and often compete for grant money, Catalyst for a Cure scientists are engaged in a research collaboration that builds on their collective strengths. By design, their multi-disciplinary skills and efforts will enable them to move more quickly toward their goal. The Catalyst for a Cure program recruits investigators from prestigious academic centers across the country to pursue promising leads together. This proven approach to collaborative discovery has attracted specialists not previously researching glaucoma to help accelerate a cure.

We produce, sponsor, and present annual events including the Glaucoma 360 Gala, New Horizons Forum, and Glaucoma Symposium, which unite research, industry, and philanthropy to prevent vision loss from glaucoma and speed the cure; and the annual Glaucoma Patient Summit, an event to highlight advances in treatment options and provide practical information to help patients understand and live with glaucoma. Our free informational newsletters and booklets provide essential glaucoma information for patients.

To maximize our impact, Glaucoma Research Foundation operates efficiently with a small staff and a large group of expert advisors. Since 1978, we've invested more than $75 million to advance essential research and education programs. 83 cents of every dollar donated goes to funding research and patient education. More than half of every donation goes directly to funding innovative glaucoma research. Every donation helps millions of people every year get the critical glaucoma information they need. We receive no government funding and rely primarily on the generosity of individual, private donors to fulfill our mission. Glaucoma Research Foundation is proud to be listed among the charities that meet the 20 standards for charity accountability of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. In addition, we have a 4-star (highest) rating from Charity Navigator, an independent organization that evaluates nonprofits.

In 2020, thanks to more than 27,500 contributions, Glaucoma Research Foundation reached its campaign goal to raise $25 million to advance innovative research and support essential patient education programs. The ambitious campaign was launched six years ago to fund scientific discovery toward a cure and introduce new initiatives to inform and empower patients. This comprehensive campaign supported all research and education programs over the past six years and specifically supported: the launch of the Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative, 48 individual glaucoma research grants, launch of the annual Glaucoma Patient Summit, introduction of new patient education materials, and a new informational webinar and video series.

We work with volunteer glaucoma specialists across the country who author and review content for our newsletters, booklets, website, blogs, and educational videos. In addition, our GRF Ambassadors are a national leadership group of eye doctors dedicated to improving access to educational materials for all glaucoma patients. GRF Ambassadors are advocates for patient education, assist with the development of educational materials, and make patient education a key component within their practice.

Our scientific advisors volunteer their time and expertise, helping to ensure that the Glaucoma Research Foundation invests in the most promising research in the fight against glaucoma. Our Shaffer Grant Advisory Committee evaluates Shaffer Grant applications and determines which projects the Glaucoma Research Foundation will fund each year. The Catalyst for a Cure (CFC) Advisory Board assists in identifying target objectives for the CFC research consortium and monitors the progress of CFC principal investigators. Our Glaucoma 360 Advisors and Program Committee volunteer to assist with preparation and presentation of the annual New Horizons Forum event to unite key clinical, industry, financial, and FDA leaders in a unique exchange on research innovation and advances in glaucoma treatment.

In 2020, scientists exploring the biological building blocks of vision uncovered special retinal ganglion cells that play a role in blood flow and pressure in the eye. Their discovery may lead to the design of artificial cells that, transplanted into eyes damaged by glaucoma, could restore vision. This is just one of many innovations, made possible through the generosity of donors to Glaucoma Research Foundation, that bring us closer to a future free from glaucoma. Catalyst for a Cure research scientists inspired us with their excellent progress this year. During the time their labs were briefly closed due to the pandemic, they were able to continue their work by pivoting to a virtual platform. The team temporarily switched from lab research to studying and collaborating about the experiments they would do when they were able to return to their labs. Two clear paths to vision restoration were identified: protecting and restoring the retinal nerve cells and replacing and reconnecting lost nerve cells. Laboratory experiments funded by Glaucoma Research Foundation are now underway to test their innovative ideas.

Inspired by the research progress and a successful series of Glaucoma 360 events in February 2020, our volunteers and donors helped us not only reach, but surpass our $25 million comprehensive campaign which concluded on June 30, 2020. The largest fundraising effort in our 42-year history enables the Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration collaboration, one-year Shaffer Grant pilot research projects for new investigators and ideas in glaucoma, and education and awareness programs like Glaucoma Patient Summit and our many Webinars.

With their first year of collaborative discovery behind them, members of the Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative in 2020 gained a deeper understanding of sight on a cellular level. Four laboratories with distinctive areas of expertise have now begun their third year of partnership on novel strategies to protect, repair, and replace damaged cells in the retina and optic nerve. This is the third team of investigators to benefit from a unique funding model advanced by Glaucoma Research Foundation. Instead of working independently (often competing for grants), our investigators combine their strengths to accelerate the pace of discovery. Their progress in 2020 could lead to the development of drugs to protect vital retinal ganglion cells as well as new technologies to transplant healthy cells or regrow the axons that connect eye and brain.

From our founding in 1978 up until today, and into the future, we’ve relied on the generous support of the community, and more importantly, on the active involvement of donors and volunteers to raise awareness, spread the word of our mission, and encourage others to aid our goal of curing glaucoma. The heart of our history has been the people who get involved, and our bold vision of a future free from glaucoma is getting closer every day.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person),

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We launched a new annual event, the Glaucoma Patient Summit, to provide ongoing educational and networking opportunities for glaucoma patients and caregivers.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,


Glaucoma Research Foundation

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Glaucoma Research Foundation

Board of directors
as of 10/14/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Andrew Iwach

Glaucoma Center of San Francisco

Term: 2012 - 2023

Thomas Brunner

Glaucoma Research Foundation

Robert Stamper

University of California, San Francisco

Dennis Singleton

Spieker Partners

Fred Brinkmann

No Affiliation

Linda Linck

Delta Gamma Foundation

Adrienne Graves

No Affiliation

Rick Halprin

Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Charles Wilmoth

Morgan Stanley

Ruth Williams

Wheaton Eye Clinic

John Flanagan

University of California, Berkeley

Nancy Forster

No Affiliation

Terri Pickering

Glaucoma Center of San Francisco

Oluwatosin Smith

Glaucoma Associates of Texas

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/14/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/19/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.