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Vision CRC breakthrough technology controls myopia in children PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 01 April 2010

This ground breaking discovery was based on research conducted by Vision CRC partners – the University of Houston College of Optometry and the Brien Holden Vision Institute, located at the University of New South Wales. Myopia affects over 1.6 billion people globally, with two thirds of those affected living in the Asia region. If unchecked, the number is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2020. There are 3.5 million people affected in Australia. Successful basic research on the nature and cause of myopia has led to the discovery that the peripheral retinal image plays a major part in stimulating eye growth and myopia. Large scale clinical trials testing both spectacles and contact lenses designed to control the position of the peripheral image and involving over 500 children in China and Australia, have produced promising results. With myopia, instead of a distant image being focused on the retina, as it needs to be for clear vision, it is focused in front of the retina. Myopia often occurs when children commence school (ages six to seven), and if left undetected the condition progresses and can adversely impact the child’s education and social development.

Professor Brien Holden, CEO of the Vision CRC, explained further, “For hundreds of years focusing defects of the eye have been corrected by simply moving the visual image backwards and forwards with spectacle lenses. Professor Earl Smith from the University of Houston College of Optometry, has demonstrated that if we move the central image onto the retina but leave the peripheral image behind the retina, the peripheral image can drive the eye to elongate, causing myopia to increase.” “The beauty of this new technology is that it addresses this problem by bringing the peripheral image forward, onto or even in front of the retina, and at the same time independently positioning the central image on the retina giving clear vision. “The commercialisation of this technology is a most important outcome for the CRC program because of the potential vision and eye health benefits,” Professor Holden said. Professor Holden announced that the breakthrough technology has been licensed to Carl Zeiss Vision (CZV) and developed into the first spectacle lens of its kind through a joint project with CZV lens designers. This new spectacle lens will be launched under the ZEISS brand name throughout Asia from April of this year.

The Vision CRC has also licensed its myopia control technology to CIBA VISION for contact lens applications. Professor Holden added, “Myopia can be a serious eye condition. High myopia significantly increases the risk of cataract, glaucoma, and retinal detachment, all potentially blinding conditions and the public health risk is significant.” Dr Padmaja Sankaridurg, Head of the Myopia Program at Vision CRC, emphasised the nature of the new technology’s appeal. “Our unique lens designs act to curve or shift the peripheral image forward, thereby removing the stimulus to axial elongation and myopia progression,” she said.

“We are continuing testing in Chinese and Australian children and young adults. So far, the trials have found that the first spectacle lens prototypes based on this new technology slow the rate of progress of myopia by 30% in children six to 12 years of age, where the child has a history of parental myopia,” she said. Professor Smith, from the University of Houston, commented, “Evidence shows that the number of individuals with myopia will dramatically escalate with increasing urbanisation and less outdoor activity”. “As urbanisation has increased in China, the prevalence and average amount of myopia has also increased. Recent evidence indicates that similar trends are occurring in the US and Australia. This ongoing epidemic of vision loss is associated with spiralling health and social costs, especially in many developing countries where over 80% of children have no correcting spectacles or contact lenses,” he said.

“This new technology is not just for children either. Over 25% of myopes in the Western world are adult-onset myopes, which often begins at University. We believe that this technology has potential benefits for all myopes,” Professor Smith said.

Aussie scientists unveil bionic eye prototype PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The bionic eye prototype was unveiled by Bionic Vision Australia, and aims to improve the sight of people suffering age-related macular degeneration, as well as retinitis pigmentosa. The technology will allow them to recognise faces, read large print and see small objects, a statement said.

Last year, the government awarded $42 million to Bionic Vision Australia to develop the bionic eye. The group comprises the Bionic Ear Institute, the Centre for Eye Research Australia, the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales and National Information and Communications Technology Australia.

BVA chairman Professor David Penington, research director Professor Anthony Burkitt and Leighton Boyd, a sufferer of retinitis pigmentosa and president of Retina Australia (Victoria) attended the launch. Researchers hope to achieve an Australian first to implant the prototype into Australia's first bionic eye recipient.

Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital expands Virtual Services into regional areas PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Health Minister Daniel Andrews visited the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital last week to help launch the expansion of Virtual Services between the Eye and Ear Hospital and hospitals in rural Victoria. The technology allows specialists in Melbourne to give advice via videoconferencing, to staff treating patients with eye, ear, nose and throat conditions in the emergency departments of hospitals in Hamilton, Warrnambool, Portland and Colac.

CEO Ann Clark said the technology is good news for rural Victorians who are often forced to travel to Melbourne to receive specialist treatment and advice. The launch of the service – a partnership between the South West Alliance of Rural Health, the Western District Health Service and the Eye and Ear Hospital – featured demonstrations, educations sessions and workshops.

Ms Clark said the technology affirms the Eye and Ear Hospital’s commitment to innovation and support of regional and rural healthcare providers through education and training. The state government committed $2.8 million to Virtual Services technology for rural hospitals in 2005. As part of this project, the four hospitals were awarded $80,000 to purchase the slit lamps, camera and software used to establish the Ophthalmology and ENT Virtual Service.

Vanity stops men from getting eye checks PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Thirteen per cent of Australian men avoid the optometrist because they're afraid they'll be told they need glasses, a poll shows. One in 10 of the 609 men surveyed by Newspoll admitted they'd never been to an optometrist. The poll, conducted for Specsavers, shows tradesmen and men who work outdoors are the worst offenders, with almost half (47%) saying they haven't had the recommended biannual eye check in the past two years.

Specsavers says the findings reveal an alarming level of apathy among Aussie males. Company director and optometrist Dr Harrison Wiesinger says avoiding regular eye tests places men at higher risk of suffering undiagnosed eye conditions that can cause blindness, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Glaucoma is estimated to affect about 300,000 Australians, with half of those people unaware they're affected, the Centre for Eye Research Australia says. It is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. About 200,000 Australians are also estimated to have undiagnosed diabetic retinopathy, a disease caused by damage to the blood vessels that nourish the retina. Early detection through regular eye checks is essential to preventing and managing both these conditions.

Indigenous eye health improving PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A study of eye health across 30 Aboriginal communities has found an improvement in vision loss and blindness compared to 30 years ago. However, Professor Hugh Taylor said it also showed how indigenous Australians continued to trail the rest of the country in the prevention and treatment of eye disease. The research found most indigenous vision loss was caused by unoperated cataracts, diabetes, uncorrected refractive errors or trachoma.

The study took in almost 3,000 indigenous people and it found 9.4 per cent of adults had low vision, while among these 1.9 per cent were blind. This was a major improvement on a study 1980, which found 8.2 per cent of indigenous people aged over 40 were blind.

Despite the improvement, vision loss remained 'much more frequent in indigenous adults than in mainstream Australian adults'. The study showed, overall, an indigenous adult was six times more likely than a non-indigenous adult to be blind and three time more likely to have low vision.

There was a positive aspect to the study, as seen in the eye health of indigenous children. It found 1.5 per cent of indigenous children had vision loss while just 0.2 per cent were blind. An indigenous child was five times less likely to have low vision than a non-indigenous child, and about half as likely to be blind.

The research was also conducted by Professor Jill Keeffe, program manager of vision care delivery at the Vision Co-operative Research Centre in Sydney. The paper is published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Optometry Giving Sight challenges Optometrists globally to Say YEStoday PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Optometry Giving Sight challenges Optometrists globally to Say YEStoday and help establish 10 new vision centres in developing countries in the first half of 2010. Today, more than 670 million people do not have access to the eye exams and glasses they need. Without glasses, children may be unable to learn at school and parents unable to provide for their families.

Training local eye care professionals and establishing community based vision centres and optical labs (where low-cost glasses are made) are the only way to solve this global problem for the long term. Optometry Giving Sight is the only global fundraising initiative that specifically targets the prevention of blindness and impaired vision due to refractive error - simply the need for an eye exam and a pair of glasses.

At Queensland Vision and the SRC Global Founding Corporate Patron CIBA VISION will match donations in support of the Say YEStoday campaign at the conferences. Optometry Giving Sight will have a stand at both conferences and invites you to come along and find out more about our new campaign, ‘Say YEStoday for a better tomorrow’.

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