A major study of Victorians with genetic eye diseases is shedding new light on the causes of blindness and paving the way for new treatments.
The VENTURE study, a collaboration between the Centre for Eye Research Australia and University of Melbourne, is developing a detailed registry of more than 300 Victorians living with Inherited Retinal Diseases (IRD).
On World Sight Day (12 October 2023), study leader Associate Professor Lauren Ayton will be part of a free public lecture at the State Library of Victoria on the latest research efforts to tackle blindness.
IRDs are the leading cause of blindness in working-age Australians and include conditions such as as retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt’s disease, Usher syndrome and choroideremia.
They occur when genetic mistakes damage the light sensing cells in the back of the eye, leading to progressive vision loss.
“Until very recently, Inherited Retinal Diseases were considered untreatable and people diagnosed with these conditions were told to prepare for a life of progressive vision loss,’’ says Associate Professor Ayton.
“However, rapid advances in research – investigating gene and cell therapies and novel anti-oxidant treatments – are creating new hope and many opportunities for people living with IRDs to take part in clinical trials.
“The idea that we would one day have treatments for these conditions was considered science fiction but research is helping it become a reality.’’
Associate Professor Ayton will share details about the VENTURE study, how to get involved and treatments on the horizon at the CERA’s Hope in Sight community forum which will showcase the latest in vision research.
She will be joined by CERA Managing Director Professor Keith Martin, who will speak about research to regenerate the optic nerve in glaucoma, and Dr Sandy Hung who will talk about her lab-based research to find better ways of delivering gene therapy.
The free event coincides with CERA’s annual Hope in Sight Giving Day which will see donations to support eye research tripled up to our target of $150,000.
WHAT: Hope in Sight Community Forum
WHERE: State Library of Victoria
WHEN: Thursday 12 October 2023, 6.30-8pm
REGISTER at cera.org.au
Associate Professor Lauren Ayton is available for interview.
About the Centre for Eye Research Australia
The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) is an independent medical research institute based at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne and affiliated with the University of Melbourne. We’re deeply committed to conducting eye research with real-life impact and finding ways to prevent blindness. As an international leader in eye research, we use our world-class knowledge and expertise to achieve better treatments and faster diagnosis of eye disease. Our goal is to prevent vision loss and, ultimately, find cures to restore sight.
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