Kera Club 2017 continues to support patients with Keratoconus

Following from the success of the inaugural Kera Club event in 2016, Kera Club continues to grow, with over 40 patients and their families meeting to hear the latest research and treatment options for keratoconus.

Fight Corneal Blindness! Chief Investigator, Professor Stephanie Watson led the evening, highlighting the Save Sight Registries Keratoconus Registry, which focuses on outcomes of treatment including corneal cross-linking.

Professor Stephanie Watson presents at Kera Club 2017
Professor Stephanie Watson presents at Kera Club 2017

Optometrists Margaret Lam and Mark Koszek, entertained attendees with their debate on “Small versus Large contact lenses: Which is better?” while providing valuable information on the treatment of keratoconus with contact lenses.

Margaret Lam shares her insight into small contract lenses for patients with keratoconus
Margaret Lam shares her insight into small contract lenses for patients with keratoconus
Mark Koszek speaks about large contact lenses for patients with keratoconus
Mark Koszek speaks about large contact lenses for patients with keratoconus


The evening concluded with a lively Q&A session, highlighting the engagement and knowledge of attendees about their keratoconus, its management and treatment options.


Q&A session


The annual Kera Club, co-founded with Keratoconus Australia, has become an important event on the FCB!’s calendar. The evening provides a unique opportunity for patients and their family and friends to meet and hear updates on research breakthroughs and treatment options. The evening also provides an opportunity to network and share their individual stories of success and difficulties in a safe and supportive environment.


Michelle Urquhart facilitates the evening.
Michelle Urquhart facilitates the evening.


Patients and their families can keep up to date with the latest resources and events on keratoconus by following us on Facebook.

Missed out on Kera Club 2017? You can watch a recording of the event:



Incredible gift means a cure is in sight

Original article

An anonymous donation will have an enormous impact

Most of us walk through life never having to think about the fact that we can see clearly. But for many Australians, loss of vision is a real problem – and it can be especially scary when it comes out of the blue.

Advanced macular disease is the leading cause of legal blindness and vision loss in Australia, affecting one in seven Australians over the age of 50. While there are some treatments available for certain types of macular disease, there are no treatments for dry macular disease, and currently no cure. But researchers at the University of Sydney’s Save Sight Institute are working to change this.

A generous donation of $100,000 to the Save Sight Institute will establish a scholarship for a PhD student to work with the Macular Research Group, directed by Professor Mark Gillies, who are on the frontline of research into new treatments for macular disease. The gift comes as the University celebrates its 24 hour giving day, Pave the Way.

“Advanced macular disease robs people of their central vision. They may lose much of their independence, be unable to read the numbers on buses or train platformsm, and they may not recognise their friends on the street,” says Professor Gillies.

Professor Mark Gillies examines a Patient at SSI Clinic
Professor Mark Gillies


Despite the urgency of research into these issues, all of the research undertaken by the Institute is reliant on grants and the generosity of donors and benefactors who believe in the cause.

This means that gifts like this one will have more than just a personal impact on the academic career of a deserving student – it will have a real and lasting impact on the research being conducted, and the lives that the research affects.

“The donation will support a PhD student working in our lab for three to four years, which would otherwise not have been possible”, says Professor Gillies. The PhD student will engage directly with the testing of new treatments, one of which involves testing compounds like curcumin, an active ingredient in tumeric, to see if they can boost the macula’s defences against oxidative stress.

Everyone working at the Save Sight Institute is passionate about this cause. When you consider this disease affects 1.5 million Australians, it becomes clear that research into this area is incredibly important, and people like this donor make all the difference.

How you can help

If you would like more infomation on how to support the Save Sight Institute, please contact the Planned Giving team on +61 2 8627 8824, or online at

Community Information Day 2018

Registration is now closed.

If you have any questions

please call 02 9382 7272

Monday to Friday 8.30-4.30.

Information Day for young people living with low vision/blindness (and those who care for them).

Saturday 3 November 2018
9:30 am – 4 pm (registration Tea and Coffee from 9am)

University of Sydney Business School, CBD Campus, Level 17 Stockland Building, access via Piccadilly Mall, 210 Pitt St, Sydney CBD.

The Save Sight Institute is pleased to let you know that it will deliver its sixth Annual Information Day on Saturday 3 November 2018.

The Info Day is for young people living with low vision or blindness and those who care for them. The day is designed to meet the needs of teenagers or young adults and their parents/carers, as well as the parents/carers of young children. Teachers are also invited.

The day features a broad range of speakers to address topics of interest and relevance to young people with vision loss or an eye disease.

All day program, lunch provided. Gold coin donation requested to help us cover food




9:30amWelcomeMr Matt O’Kane
9:35amIntroducing SSI: Research, Patient Care & TeachingProfessor Stephanie Watson
9:50amKeynote Address Ms Jan McLeod


10:20amMy life with sport: GoalballMs Brodie Smith
10:40amMy life with musicMs Lara Nakhle


11:30pmTechnology for people with low vision and blindnessMr Greg Alchin
12:10pmHorsing around with low visionMs Renee Godress
12:30pmMy storyMs Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon


2:00pmResearch at SSI: What’s New?Professor John Grigg – Paediatrics
Professor Robyn Jamieson – Genetics
Dr Alexander Ferdi – Keratoconus


2:45pmEMPOWER (Parents)
The journey to adulthood: parents sharing stories and tips.

Facilitated by Dr Ada McCluskey, psychologist and Professor Peter McCluskey, ophthalmologist.

EDUCATE (Teachers and service providers)
Ask a Doctor: Common Childhood Eye Diseases

Dr James Smith, Senior Staff Specialist Ophthalmologist at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Head of Department of Ophthalmology at Royal North Shore Hospital

INSPIRE (Young People)
Presentation and interactive session with Ms Vicki Papageorgopoulos, Community Development and Engagement Officer, Headspace
15:30Navigating the NDISMs Harzita Hashim – RIDBC
Ms Rebecca Kent – Vision Australia
Ms Kelly Prentice – Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
16:00Closing commentsProfessor Peter McCluskey

Sydney CBD location
We will again deliver the day in a central Sydney CBD location, near to public transport and parking.

The event will be held at the University of Sydney School of Business CBD Campus. This is located in the Stockland Building, Level 17, accessed via the Piccadilly Shopping Centre, 210 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Who should attend?

  • Teenagers, or young adults living with an eye condition with their parents
  • Parents and carers of children with an eye condition
  • Teachers and therapists of children and young people who live with an eye condition
  • Organisations that provide services to young people living with an eye condition.

Why attend?
The day is an opportunity for people to connect with each other, share experiences and get up-to-date information. The SSI team will provide an update on research developments, and will be available to answer questions. We also invite a range of service providers and subject matter experts to give attendees a “one stop shop” to find out what’s new in the sector, and to catch up with each other.

Places are limited
As a free event, places are limited. We aim to provide attendees with a valuable and enjoyable day, and so for catering and venue reasons, need to confirm numbers in advance. Please register if you would like to attend, and if you know of anyone else who would benefit from attending, please let them know ASAP so that they don’t miss out.

iFixPen to revolutionise the treatment of corneal ulcers

Researchers at the Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney, NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service and the University of Wollongong are revolutionising the treatment of corneal ulcers with the development of a new iFixPen. Led by Professor Gerard Sutton, the iFixPen is an innovative delivery system for a specially designed “ink” that can treat corneal ulcers by promoting wound healing.

Corneal ulcers are predominantly caused by bacterial infection, which causes an open wound on the front of the eye. These ulcers can become serious and cause vision loss or blindness and early treatment is essential (1). While contact lens wearers are more prone to corneal ulcers, ulcers can also occur as a result of a fungal or viral infection, or injury or trauma (1). Currently the most common form of treatment is topical antibiotic, applied to the affected area (1).

A similar device has been used to treat knee cartilage damage as a result of arthritis, the iFixPen is the first of its kind to be developed to treat injuries or diseases of the eye. The project may still be in the early stages of development, but it is already being recognised, with the team awarded nearly $50,000 in funding from the Sydney Innovation and Research Symposium’s “Big Idea” Award in June this year. “It has captured the imagination of many people…and is actually our second innovation award. We were runners-up in the Innovation Competition within the Local Area Health District as well,” said Professor Gerard Sutton. “It was great to get the award for the whole team…[as] this is very much a team achievement.”

The injection of seed funding ensures the future of the corneal iFixPen looks bright, with the first prototype available for use in 2019. The project also highlights the importance of strong collaboration and partnership, which brings research, technology and innovation to the forefront of ophthalmic practice in the region.

“The iFixPen project is one of the cornerstone projects of the Australian Corneal Bioengineering Centre which has been established on the Sydney Eye Hospital Campus. It was set up to foster the development of corneal bioengineered products to treat corneal disease and makes use of the unique synergies of having the Save Sight Institute, Sydney Eye Hospital, The Lions NSW Eye Bank and The Australian Ocular Biobank in the same location. We are also collaborating with Professor Gordon Wallace from Wollongong University’s Intelligent Polymer Institute,” said Professor Gerard Sutton.

iFixPen researchers receive their Big Idea award for their idea to treat corneal ulcers.
[L to R] Professor Gerard Sutton, Dr Jingjing You, Dr Simon Cooper, PhD student Hannah Frazer and Dr Li Wen. ©The University of Sydney

(1) Vision Eye Institute. Corneal Ulcer. 2016. Available at: [Accessed 12 July 2017]