A grant of AUD$3m has enabled the Lions Eye Institute (LEI) to create a perpetual ophthalmology fellowship position for Western Australia. The aim of the fellowship is to train paediatric ophthalmologists and further research into prevention of eye injuries in children.
The prestigious new Joyce Henderson Paediatric Fellowship will be split between research at the Institute and clinical programs at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
LEI Managing Director Professor David Mackey said it will be open to final year ophthalmology trainees or Fellows from around the world who wished to specialise in paediatric ophthalmology.
“There is a clear need to train more paediatric ophthalmologists and this fellowship will help meet that need,” said Prof. Mackey.
The fellowship will allow a final year trainee to conduct clinical work at the hospital, as well as research through LEI
“Princess Margaret Hospital’s ophthalmology training program is the most efficient unit in the country and LEI is one of the leading medical research institutes in WA and a key global player in the prevention of blindness.
“The fellowship will allow a final year trainee to conduct clinical work at the hospital, as well as research through LEI,” he added.
“The donor, who is deceased, stipulated in her will that this money is to be used to promote injury prevention in children,” said Clinical Associate Professor Geoff Lam, who heads the ophthalmology department at the Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital where the Fellows will conduct their clinical work.
“The importance of this is obvious. Eye injuries in children are mostly preventable. The research side of the fellowship is to find ways of reducing injury risks in children; while the clinical side is to train specialist ophthalmologists to promote eye health, to educate the public in injury prevention in children, and also to handle the various eye conditions that may arise,” he said.
Professor Mackey said the research program will break new ground as it will include:
• a trauma audit, making use of linked database resources in Western Australia.
• analysis of UV damage at the eye, particularly among children who participate in high-risk sun exposure sports such as surfing, life-saving, sailing and cricket.
• analysis of the relationship between decreased outdoor activity and rates of myopia (short-sightedness) in children.
• creation of an ongoing prospective study into the link between strabismus (turned eye) in children and mothers smoking during pregnancy.
The donor, Joyce Henderson, was a relative of leading WA paediatric ophthalmologist Mary Bremner. She was strongly committed to supporting research into all causes of injuries and the ongoing health of children’s eyes.