The Institute for Eye Research (IER), together with the University of Wollongong and the University of New South Wales (UNSW), has secured an Australian Research Council (ARC) linkage grant to research and hopefully find an answer to the condition known as Dry Eye.
Professor Mark Willcox, Chief Scientific Officer at the Institute and Professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, anticipates some major benefits resulting from the project.
“It is hoped that ultimately this research will lead to new treatments for dry eye and novel technologies that provide greater comfort for contact lens wearers,” he says.
Dry Eye affects around 120,000 Australians and 150 million people around the world. People suffering from dry eye complain of dryness and itchiness in their eyes, which may lead to excessive blinking. Chronic dry eye can produce a serious decline in quality of life. Lipids provide a critical layer in the human tear film that retards evaporation and helps nourish and protect the eye. The project will identify the molecules within this essential ‘oil slick’ to better understand dry eye syndrome and the discomfort associated with contact lens wear. Prof. Wilcox credits Dr. Zhenjun Zhao, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute, as being instrumental in obtaining this ARC funding and has also been responsible for two other ARC-funded projects.
Research Institute Membership
The Dry Eye research funding comes at the same time as the IER recently acquired membership of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI), a relationship that allows new collaborative possibilities with Australia’s leading medical research organisations and enhances the Institute’s status as a leading research institute.
AAMRI contributes to the delivery of new Australian medical breakthroughs by facilitating communication between independent medical research institutes and representing their needs to government, business and the public.
“This membership will allow the Institute to build new, and strengthen existing relationships, with other major medical research institutes within Australia. Working with other leading researchers and organisations allows us to share expertise and participate in the kind of multidisciplinary projects that lead to new discoveries and improved medical treatments”, says Prof. Willcox