SSI hosts free AMD info sessions for clinic patients

Save Sight Institute conducts a number of injection clinics for patients diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Save Sight Institute conducts a number of injection clinics for patients diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

In partnership with Inservio, the clinic will this year introduce a series of free patient-based information sessions, with the first session to be conducted in May.

The information session will be held in the clinic waiting room prior to the AMD injection clinic, and is specifically for patients attending for treatment on that day. Presenters will provide important information to attending patients, encouraging a greater understanding of their condition and emphasising the value and impact of complying fully with their prescribed treatment regime.

Save Sight Institute partners with Sydney Eye Hospital to deliver regular treatment clinics for AMD patients, providing access to sight-saving injections for many who are otherwise unable to access privately funded clinical care. The clinics provide patients and the public health system with both logistical and financial assistance, and have long-term benefits on visual outcomes, quality of life and public health expenditure.

Save Sight Institute is committed to supporting patients at all stages of their journey through life with eye disease, and is proud to deliver such an innovative patient support programme.

 

Medical tourism risking eye sight

The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) , has published a letter to the editor by doctors from the Save Sight Institute, Sydney Eye Hospital and South Western Eye Care highlighting the serious risks encountered by patients who travel overseas for eye treatments.

The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) , has published a letter to the editor by doctors from the Save Sight Institute, Sydney Eye Hospital and South Western Eye Care highlighting the serious risks encountered by patients who travel overseas for eye treatments.

According to Professor John Grigg, head of Discipline at The University of Sydney’s Save Sight Institute “Cosmetic eye treatments in particular, such as iris implants to change eye colour, can have disastrous consequences. This can include severe glaucoma and vision loss. We strongly discourage people from undertaking such a procedure because the risks are unacceptably high”.

Such cosmetic eye treatments are rarely performed in Australia or New Zealand. 

Ophthalmologists warned that medical tourism for any type of eye surgery can present risks to the patient which should be very carefully considered. 

Inadequate controls around sterilisation and infection control can lead to complications after the patient returns home to Australia following laser, cataract or cosmetic eye surgery overseas.

Side effects such as dry eyes, halos and blurry vision can last for six months or longer and all of these symptoms, or more serious issues such as scarring, retinal detachment or corneal detachment, require referral to an ophthalmologist immediately. Overseas medical tourism can place a burden on our local health system. 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has also recently issued a warning to consumers not to undergo cosmetic iris implant surgery to change eye colour because the procedure has the capacity to cause serious eye damage, vision loss and blindness.

According to the research team “Cosmetic iris implants carry a high risk of irreversible visual loss. We highlight this risk for patients considering medical tourism and urge primary care providers to review the current literature before offering advice regarding this procedure”. 

Authors:

  • John Grigg, MD, FRANZCO, FRACS, Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney
  • Dominic McCall MBBS, BSc, Sydney Eye Hospital
  • Alex Hamilton BMed, MPHTM, Sydney Eye Hospital
  • Son Chau-Vo MBBS(Hons), FRANZCO

 

World Glaucoma Week (8-14 March)

It’s World Glaucoma Week and Save Sight Institute is calling on all people of all ages in the community to get the facts and know their risks.

It’s World Glaucoma Week and Save Sight Institute is calling on all people of all ages in the community to get the facts and know their risks.

Glaucoma is an insidious eye disease which can irreversibly steal sight, in many cases before you are even aware that you have the condition.

  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide;
  • Approximately 300,000 people in Australia have glaucoma;
  • One in 200 people aged 40 have glaucoma, rising to one in eight by the age 80;
  • At present, 50% of people with glaucoma in Australia are undiagnosed;
  • Direct (close) relatives of glaucoma patients are particularly at risk with a 10 times higher risk than the general population. Those relatives have an almost one in four chance of developing glaucoma during their lifetime;
  • Elevated intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eye) is an important risk factor for the development of glaucoma, but approximately half of those diagnosed with glaucoma do not have pressure outside the normal range;
  • A diagnosis of glaucoma can only be confirmed by assessing whether there is damage to the optic nerves located inside and at the back of each eye. 
  • Remember to have an optic nerve check every two years or as often as your eye health professional suggests. Early detection and appropriate treatment will save sight. 

Glaucoma Australia has been working hard to raise awareness of the importance of understanding family history of glaucoma, pointing out that the condition negatively impacts Australia’s total healthcare system through direct management costs, and also results in loss of productivity, welfare payments, lost taxation and importantly, a reduced quality of life and well-being for those affected. 

Glaucoma Australia has produced the following community service video which we encourage you to watch.

Source: Glaucoma Australia

Researchers discover new kinds of brain waves

Your sleeping brain is working harder than you think, according to a new study by researchers at the Save Sight Institute.

Your sleeping brain is working harder than you think, according to a new study by researchers at the Save Sight Institute.

Unconscious brain states such as sleep and anaesthesia are characterised by slow changes in brain electrical activity (brain waves). These slow brain waves were thought to indicate low levels of activity, like the slow rise and fall of the ocean on a calm day. But now Save Sight researchers have shown that even sleeping brains may be very active indeed.

In collaboration with researchers from Sydney University School of Physics, neuroscientists from the Save Sight Institute measured the fine detail of brain waves in visual centres of anaesthetised monkeys, and found the slow waves hide a rich variety of micro-patterns that evolve continuously in space and time.

“These patterns were not at all like a calm sea, in fact the pictures we got were more like a series of tropical storms”, explains neuroscientist Professor Paul Martin. 

To make sense of the patterns, the physicists applied methods for analysing turbulent flow in gas and fluids, and found an excellent fit to the data.

“It is good that the turbulence methods worked so well,” adds physicist Pulin Gong, “but the really exciting thing is that we seem to have found a whole new set of patterns of brain activity.”

The researchers think the patterns might even be used by the brain to process information in a distributed and dynamic way, but there is a lot more to discover about them before we know the details.

The Journal of Neuroscience published the team’s research findings this month. 

For details see: Townsend RG et al. (2015) Emergence of complex wave patterns in primate cerebral cortex. J Neurosci 35:4657–4662.

Save Sight Institute celebrates 30 year anniversary

A message from Professor Peter McCluskey, Director of Save Sight Institute: Dear Supporters, This year the Save Sight Institute celebrates its 30 year anniversary.

A message from Professor Peter McCluskey, Director of Save Sight Institute:

 

Dear Supporters,

This year the Save Sight Institute celebrates its 30 year anniversary. 

I am exceptionally proud of what we have all achieved over this period. More than anything I feel profoundly honoured to be part of an organisation that helps so many people by translating the latest research into best practice patient care. 

When I think back to where ophthalmology was 30 years ago, I marvel at how far we have come. I am truly excited by the pace of discovery in medical research and proud to see so many of Australia’s most gifted and dedicated scientists and clinicians choosing to devote their professional lives to saving sight. We have come a long way, but we still have much to do.

The biggest threat to progress right now is not the boundaries of science or human will. We have an exceptional pool of committed researchers, some of the best in the world. Our progress is being hampered by a lack of funding.

Researchers need to pay their bills just like everyone else. Sadly, the constant slashing of investment in research programmes is beginning to discourage the best and brightest minds from building a career in medical science. This is a loss that our ageing and growing population simply cannot afford, and the true impact will be felt in years to come.

Let’s not take medical research for granted. Ultimately, we all benefit from overcoming health challenges.

I urge anyone who cares about this topic, to write to their local member of parliament. Better yet, make an appointment and explain why it’s so important to invest in medical research.

In the meantime, we continue to focus our efforts on finding new and improved ways to avoid blindness, and your support is sincerely appreciated.

Yours sincerely

Professor Peter McCluskey
Director, Save Sight Institute