The eyesight of millions may be saved thanks to a Federal government funding injection of more than $9 million into glaucoma research at Flinders University.
The $9.46 million program will be delivered across five-years, which Flinders Professor of Ophthalmology Jamie Craig says will lead to both a direct and indirect change in clinical practice and patient outcomes.
“We are currently monitoring approximately 1,500 patients to investigate how genes and eye tests can be used to predict the risk of developing severe glaucoma in people with early signs of the disease,” he said.
“This will ensure that high risk individuals can access treatment early, while those at low risk can be spared unnecessary treatment and seen less often by vision experts.”
Launching the program today, Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said there was “exciting” potential to personalise treatment options for the estimated 80 million people who will be diagnosed with glaucoma by 2020.
“It’s long been known that a family history of glaucoma means increased risk but there are no symptoms or warning signs in the early stages,” he said.
“Testing is vital and, although there is no cure, with treatment glaucoma can be controlled and further loss of sight either prevented or slowed.”
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. In most people this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye as a result of a build-up of fluid.
Sight loss is usually gradual and a considerable amount of peripheral vision may be gone before people are aware of any problem.
Funding for the grant has been provided through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and continues the Turnbull Government’s commitment to Australia’s world-leading medical researchers.
Since 2007, the NHMRC has provided $29.8 million to glaucoma research.