AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) –   Every month through the school year, CBS4, along with the Colorado School of Mines and PDC Energy, gives the Future Leaders award to high school students excelling in science, technology, engineering and math. The winner gets $1,000 and a profile on CBS4.

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This month’s winner is Ethan James, a rising senior at DSST Montview. James is fascinated by the eyes.

“The anatomy of the eye is so intricate, and detailed, and unique to any other part of the body,” James told CBS4.

He was drawn into ophthalmology when he was in about third grade, and has done everything he can to learn about it since. He even set up an internship at his own eye doctor’s office.

“Our vision is often taken for granted, but when we lose it, it’s very impactful to our lives,” James explained.

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Dr. Nick Doyle teaches him about clinical eye care – scanning, diagnosing, and treating eye ailments.

“I think that’s the best gift we could give someone is restoring their vision,” James said.

He’s working on doing just that at his internship on the Anschutz Medical Campus. He’s working with researchers to develop a treatment for a common disease.

“It’s an implant that gets implanted into the top surface of your eye, and pretty much what it does is it helps reduce the progression of a retinal disease called age-related macular degeneration,” James said.

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James is passing his love of science and technology on to younger generations. He’s in the process of setting up a 501c3 called STEM for Kids Colorado. The mission of the organization is to send older students into elementary schools to do experiments and coding.

“It can identify and diagnose patients with certain symptoms of eye disease,” James says as he brings up his laptop.

RELATED: Check Out Other Future Leaders Winners

While his school and labs have been closed due to COVID-19, James has been working on his own project, a computer program to help analyze eye scans.

“My most accurate model is at 96-percent,” he said.

It’s the latest step on his path to his own retinal ophthalmology practice, where he can care for and research the eye.

 

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