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Rare eye disease treatment gets boost from bionic eye

Rare eye disease treatment gets boost from bionic eye

speedBlind people suffering from rare eye disease have been given new hope with the successful trial of a bionic eye which partially restores vision.

A recent 60 Minutes story, in addition to several clinical trials around the world, have profiled the bionic eye in relation to sufferers of rare eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, which is inherited and incurable.

Retinitis pigmentosa causes the gradual degeneration of light receptors in the retina, severely impairing vision and leading to blindness in many cases. The bionic eye is a retinal implant that stimulates electrical impulses within, sending this information to the brain to “trick” it into allowing vision, albeit not normal vision but enough for the patient to make out shapes and perceive shades of light. This allows the patient to resume some of the basic tasks of living not possible before the implant.

The bionic eye is currently not available in Australia, although development is well under way. It is thought such devices will also help in the treatment of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness globally.

The bionic eye, called Argus II, consists of two separate components: a camera and visual processing unit the patient wears, and the surgically-implanted antenna and electrodes. Results are not instantaneous, as it takes time for a patient not used to seeing for a long time to re-learn how to interpret visual information, and to adapt to the data provided by the electrode signals.

Such advances are bringing technology and ophthalmology closer together, while also expanding the field of neuro-ophthalmology into exciting new areas.

Ophthalmology research part of the $120 million for tomorrow’s medical breakthrough

Ophthalmology research part of the $120 million for tomorrow’s medical breakthrough


RANZCO commends yesterday’s government announcement of $123.5 million in grants to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of medical health and research and a world leader in preventing, treating and curing illness and disease.

Ophthalmology research featured in the group of over 100 top Australian researchers and projects to share in the National Health and Medical Research Council grants.

These include:

Dr Hong Zhang, Development Grant, Centre for Eye Research Australia ($584,165)

This research supports the development of a non-invasive treatment for the degenerative eye condition keratoconus. Current treatment involves lifting the protective layer of the cornea to apply riboflavin to the central region of the cornea – a procedure which can be painful and carries many risks of complications. Professor Zhang will work with Seagull Technologies to develop a polymer gel that, combined with a delivery device invented by the company, can release riboflavin into the cornea safely and without the need for any incision

Prof Yogesan Kanagasingam, Development Grant, Australian e-Health Research Centre (516,424)

Low cost smart screening system for sight threatening eye disease: diabetic retinopathy

Dr Queena Qin, Postgraduate Scholarship, Centre for Eye Research Australia

Energy supply in glaucoma: one cell’s trash is another cell’s treasure

Review of Medicines and Medical Device Regulation in Australia

The Australian Government is undertaking an independent review of the regulatory arrangements for medicines and medical devices. RANZCO’s primary concerns in response to the Expert Panel’s discussion paper relate to patient safety; timely patient access to medicines; stable supply to reduce the advent of drug shortages; appropriate red tape for use of unapproved products; and incentives for sponsors to register medicines for niche ophthalmic indications.

RANZCO’s submission is available here.

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