Press Releases

Press Release-Re-seeing the future: How technology may restore vision loss

22 October 2012



Re-seeing the future: How technology may restore vision

Restoring sight to people with profound vision loss could be closer than we think, according to researchers presenting at a biotechnology conference in Melbourne next month. 

In this free public forum, “Re-seeing the future: How technology may restore vision”, experts from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), Stem Cells Australia and Vision Australia will discuss the latest developments in technology to restore sight, and what this means for the hundreds of thousands of Australians affected by vision loss.

“From stem cells and laser treatments for macular degeneration, to contact lenses and cell transplantation for corneal damage, many different approaches will be required to combat blindness,” said Associate Professor Megan Munsie, Head of Education, Ethics, Law & Community Awareness at Stem Cells Australia. “This forum will showcase the latest research and importantly provide an opportunity for members of the public to have their questions answered by the researchers themselves.”

Hosted by 3AW’s Dr Sally Cockburn, the forum will run from 2.30pm-4.00pm on Friday 2 November 2012 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

It is the only public event associated with the AusBiotech conference, Australia’s pre-eminent biotechnology industry conference, which runs from 31 October to 2 November.

“The ability to restore or improve sight has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for many Australians,” said Professor Jonathan Crowston, Managing Director of CERA and Head of Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne.

By 2020, some 800,000 Australians over 40 are expected to be affected by vision loss.  One hundred thousand of these will be blind.

“Never has there been a more important time to invest in new technologies that offer hope for those affected by vision loss,” said Professor Crowston.

“At the Centre for Eye Research Australia, we are proud to be at the forefront of vision regeneration research and I have every confidence that through our partnerships with organisations such as Stem Cells Australia and the newly established National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia, we can continue to make significant advances in our mission to restore sight.”  

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For more information or to arrange an interview with one for the panel members please contact Emily Woodhams, Communications Advisor at the Centre for Eye Research Australia on (03) 9929 8426, 0408 370 959 or email emily.woodhams@unimelb.edu.au

About us:

Stem Cells Australia is an Australian Government funded Special Research Initiative, bringing together the country’s leading experts in bioengineering, nanotechnology, stem cell biology, advanced molecular analysis and clinical research to tackle the big questions in stem cell science. www.stemcellsaustralia.edu.au

The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) is Australia’s leading eye research institute. CERA conducts basic, clinical and population-based research to understand disease processes, improve diagnosis and treatment of major eye diseases and ensure better health service delivery. www.cera.org.au

Panel members:

Professor Jonathan Crowston - New therapeutic approaches for protecting the optic nerve in glaucoma (CERA).

Professor Robyn Guymer – Update on the Bionic Eye project (CERA & Bionic Vision Australia)

Dr Alice Pébay - Turning stem cells into eye and nerve cells and update on stem cell clinical trials (CERA)

Associate Professor Megan Munsie – To discuss unproven stem cell treatments and challenges of Dr Google (SCA)

Ms Maryanne Diamond - To discuss need but acknowledge existing support and services for Australians who are blind or have low vision (Vision Australia)