Research

Macular disease researchers receive government grants

The University of Sydney’s Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath and the Centre for Eye Research Australia’s Dr Lauren Ayton both received Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) grants of $179,118 to support their work on separate age-related macular degeneration projects.Ayton’s work will focus on improving patient managent pathways, specifically the development of new methods for communicating research findings in the field of AMD to optometrists quickly.“One of the biggest challenges facing ophthalmology and optometry is the resourcing of AMD managent. Whilst anti-VEGF injections are efficacious for neovascular AMD (nvAMD), the treatment has to be repeated regularly to maintain a patient’s vision. If the rate of nvAMD continues to grow at its current rate, it is anticipated that there will be issues with access to ophthalmologists for treatment,” Ayton said.{{quote-a:r-w:400-I:2-Q:“Optometrists are often the healthcare practitioners who first detect AMD, and hence it is important that they have the most up-to-date knowledge in the area.”-WHO:Lauren Ayton, Eye Research Australia}}“In addition, recent findings suggest that over 7,000 people with nvAMD miss out on treatment per year, mainly due to a lack of access to primary eyecare health practitioners and living in a rural area. These challenges mean that it is of upmost importance that patients are identified at an early stage of disease, and provided with the best managent.“Optometrists are often the healthcare practitioners who first detect AMD, and hence it is important that they have the most up-to-date knowledge in the area,” Ayton added.The research will also involve considerable collaboration between Ayton, fellow ophthalmologist Professor Robyn Guymer, and others, such as University of Melbourne research specialist Dr Laura Downie. According to Ayton, this collaboration among multiple professions is important not just in research, but also clinical situations as well.“AMD is a perfect example of a healthcare condition that benefits from multi-disciplinary managent. Whilst some people with AMD will require treatment by an ophthalmologist, many require surveillance over prolonged periods. We hope to power optometrists to provide the best possible care for their patients by providing th with the most up-to-date information on AMD,” Ayton said.Meanwhile, Gopinath’s research, supported by a NHMRC TRIP grant, will focus on implenting and evaluating a telephone-delivered dietary intervention for AMD patients.“Dietary modifications are important in preventing AMD and slowing its progression. Yet, patients have inadequate explanation from eyecare clinicians, as well as information and knowledge regarding diet and AMD,” Gopinath explained in an ail.“My NHMRC TRIP Fellowship aims to improve dietary behaviours of AMD patients by implenting and evaluating an evidence-based intervention, which has a two-pronged strategy: 1) ensure the correct information on diet and AMD is passed onto the patient; and 2) provide telephone coaching and support to facilitate and enhance adoption of dietary recommendations specifically for AMD.”