New nanosecond laser therapy for diabetic eye disease
11 July, 2013
A world-first nanosecond laser therapy developed for the treatment of a range of retinal diseases, including diabetic eye disease, will feature in a free community information session next week, presented by the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA).
Almost 1.1 million Australians have diabetes and this number is expected to rise to 3 million by 2025. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages the blood vessels in the retina, at the back of the eye. If left untreated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness.
CERA researcher and ophthalmologist Associate Professor Wilson Heriot is one of the first practitioners to use this breakthrough technology, referred to as 2RT, on patients with Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO), the most common form of diabetic retinopathy.
"Traditional thermal lasers have been used for decades to treat diabetic eye diseases, but they effectively burn small areas of the retina to control swelling (oedema) or to stop bleeding. This destroys sight giving tissue and also causes pain." explains Associate Professor Heriot.
"This new laser treatment emits a dramatically shorter energy dose that does not damage the retina. It is painless, easy to administer and appears to be as effective as thermal photocoagulation in treating the swelling and poor vision associated with DMO."
Funding boost for Bionic Eye research
12 July, 2013
CERA welcomes the Federal Government's announcement of a much-needed funding extension for Bionic Eye research.
In Australia, over 50,000 people suffer from profound vision impairment, which can have a significant impact on independence and quality of life. It also costs the Australian economy upwards of $2.5 billion annually.
The Bionic Eye being developed by Bionic Vision Australia offers hope for people with two of the most common causes of profound vision impairment; retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.
Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator the Honourable Kim Carr announced on Tuesday 9 July that the Australian Research Council (ARC) would continue to fund the research of the Monash Vision Group and Bionic Vision Australia, which includes CERA.
The announcement follows Australia's first successful patient implants of Bionic Eye prototypes by CERA surgeon Dr Penny Allen and her team in 2012.
CERA researchers responsible for the clinical and surgical components of the project are delighted with the announcement. "This funding will enable us to build on the current patient tests, to help refine the prototypes and develop the next generation devices," said Dr Lauren Ayton, Bionic Eye Clinical Project Coordinator.
The funding extension provides an additional $8 million in 2014 to Bionic Vision Australia and $1.9 million to Monash Vision Group to continue their research programs.
Bionic Vision Australia will seek further financial support from other sources beyond 2014, primarily through the National Health and Medical Research Council, philanthropic organisations and commercial investors. For now, researchers can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with the day to day business of research and development.
The Bionic Eye projects are funded through the ARC's Special Research Initiative in Bionic Vision Science and Technology. The funding announcement extends the original grants awarded in 2010.