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The University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT (Guide Dogs) are two partners in a successful National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) partnership project. The award of $1.1 million will fund research over five years at the Centre for Eye Health (CFEH).
Officially launched in November 2009, CFEH is a joint initiative by Guide Dogs and UNSW to prevent vision loss through the early detection and monitoring of eye disease. The Centre promotes a ‘shared care’ model of eye care, and has provided advanced eye imaging and visual assessment for close to 7,000 people at no-charge thanks to the generosity of Guide Dogs and its supporters.
Various Australian models for managing glaucoma have been proposed, but their effectiveness has been largely unexplored. Using CFEH referral information and clinical data, this research project will determine current glaucoma practices, effectiveness in clinical diagnosis, referral quality, appropriate utilisation of new technologies and integration with complementary facilities and services.
The project involves a multi-disciplinary team of experts from optometry, ophthalmology, visual science and public health, and will utimately lead to more cohesive patient management, with an improvement in the quality of life for patients and a reduction of the the economic burden of eye disease nationally.
According to chief investigator and Centre Director Professor Michael Kalloniatis, “The NHMRC Glaucoma Guidelines highlight the need for appropriate and timely referral of patients at risk of developing glaucoma. In Australia, the primary eye-care provider is usually an optometrist, so this profession is well-placed to minimise the overloading of the health system – especially now they have access to the additional imaging and clinical expertise available at CFEH.”
According to CFEH and Guide Dogs chairperson Barry Stephen, “This grant will enable the broader health community to benefit from the knowledge generated through the Centre’s clinic. Most importantly, it will mean a better outcome for more people in NSW and the ACT.”
The NHMRC Partnerships for Better Health initiative awarded a total of $9.8 million to 13 partnership projects throughoutAustralia. The $1.1 million funding for this research project is the fourth largest partnership project grant, and will be administered by UNSW.