A revolution in the vision care industry is set to take place with the extension of the Vision CRC for a further five years. The announcement of the AU$22 million extension will make the CRC one of the great success stories in the CRC program consolidating Australia’s position as a world leader in vision research and technology.
The five-year extension of the Vision CRC presents not only an opportunity to deliver revolutionary products with the capability to solve vision problems for billions but is also an important long-term investment in Australia’s capacity in breakthrough research and our economic future.
The extended Vision CRC will conduct four separate programs to deliver a range of benefits for Australia and the world in the areas of vision correction, understanding of ocular health and vision care delivery to indigenous Australians and developing communities worldwide.
It is estimated that the number of people affected by myopia (short-sightedness) in the world will grow from 1.6 billion now to a staggering 2.5 billion by 2020. It affects 3.5 million Australians, often occurring in childhood, meaning a lifelong need for eye care, and increases the risk of developing serious vision threatening conditions. The Anti-Myopia Program will consolidate Australia’s position as a global research and development centre for understanding and providing products for the control of myopia.
The Ocular Comfort Program is designed to produce products that optimise the comfort of people when they wear contact lenses. Research undertaken by Vision CRC and its predecessor, CRC for Eye Research and Technology, has successfully delivered contact lenses that provide the cornea with all the necessary oxygen it requires to be healthy. More than a quarter of all contact lenses sold in the world today are silicone hydrogel lenses, which had their genesis in Australia through the CRC program partnership with CIBA VISION.
The extension’s third program, NuVision, is developing revolutionary surgical technologies to correct a range of refractive conditions, including presbyopia. In Australia, 6.7 million people have presbyopia. Globally, there are more than 1 billion, a number that is rapidly growing with the ageing population. Presbyopia is a natural part of the ageing process that occurs when the eye’s lens loses its flexibility and its ability to focus and affects almost all people by the age of 45. This typically requires correction by either contact lenses or spectacles for us to be able to read effectively.
The final program of this extension, Vision Care Delivery, aims to develop a new framework that will lead to the provision of equitable, accessible and sustainable primary eye care to Aboriginal Australians. Some 100 Aboriginal health workers will be trained in basic eye care, contributing to increased workforce participation and a reduction in health care and social costs due to improved vision. The creation of a successful service care delivery model can also assist government in Aboriginal health policy development and has potential for use as a model for workforce development in other health sectors.