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New College of Optical Dispensing launched

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


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Cataract patients experience depression and falls

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

New research shows that one in three patients waiting for their first eye cataract surgery suffer from falls, while about 30% show signs of depression.

The George Institute for Global Health conducted a study of 329 patients at eight public hospitals in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

One third of the patients were found to have experienced a fall during their wait for their surgery, with almost half of those falls being serious – including 15 head injuries.

“Cataract surgery is highly successful and can transform lives. It is therefore key that a patient has prompt access to surgery to avoid serious injuries and significant psychological distress,” Associate Professor Lisa Keay of The George Institute said.

Researchers also found depressive symptoms in 28.6% of patients – three times higher than would normally be expected – with older adults having high rates of these symptoms.

Ms Anna Palagyi, a research fellow at The George Institute explained that depression and falls are not only a burden to the individual, they can also be costly to the health system.

“Many people choose to go private to have cataract surgery, but others rely on public hospital services,” Ms Palagyi said. “We need to ensure we provide timely and high quality surgery in our public hospitals.”

Ms Palagyi and Ms Keay are co-authors of “While We Waited: Incidence and Predictors of Falls in Older Adults With Cataract,” published in IOVS in November.

The NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) is currently supporting parallel work looking at outcomes of cataract surgery. Acting chief executive Professor Donald MacLellan said ACI is continually looking at new ways to improve the care of ophthalmology patients. 
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CERA celebrates anniversary, secures new grants

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and announced it has secured several major grants. 

Closely affiliated with the University of Melbourne Department of Ophthalmology and located at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, CERA has more than 155 researchers, staff and postgraduate students. 

Researchers, staff and supporters attended a celebration held in Melbourne on November 17. Describing CERA’s beginnings in the 1990s, Professor Hugh Taylor, its inaugural managing director, said, “There was huge potential, so I thought let’s pull together the hospital, the profession, the college and the associations advocating for the blind with the University and call it the Centre for Eye Research.”

CERA published 192 research papers, conducted 19 clinical trials and won 34 competitive grants totalling over $4.8 million in 2015.

In late November, CERA announced Associate Professor Lyndell Lim, who leads CERA’s Clinical Trials Research Centre, is one of five recipients of the 2016 Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants. 

The grants, worth up to $150,000, are awarded to early career scientists to support translational health or medical research with a path to clinical application within five years. Assoc Prof Lim’s grant supports her research that will improve cataract surgery outcomes in patients with diabetic macular oedema.

In December, CERA announced more than $1.4 million in two project grants has been awarded to CERA Deputy Director, Professor Robyn Guymer, and Associate Professor Alex Hewitt. The grants were part of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2016 funding announcements.

Prof Guymer’s grant supports her research into the underlying mechanisms by which debris accumulates in the retina in age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

“Finding out more about this process is critical for understanding disease pathways and ultimately developing novel treatments targets for early AMD,” said Prof Guymer.

Assoc Prof Hewitt’s grant assists his work on a new generation of gene therapy. “The goal is to build towards therapies that will enable direct gene-editing in the eye,” he said. 
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