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 around 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”, Professor Gillies says. “They may lose much of their independence, be unable to read the numbers on buses or train platforms, and they may not recognise their friends in the street”.
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 not otherwise 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 turmeric, 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 that 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.
(Source: The University of Sydney)