The Institute for Eye Research and University of Western Sydney will host an international exchange of leading researchers to progress the development of solutions to the condition ‘dry eye’, from 3–8 August. Dry eye, the most common reason we seek medical help for an eye-related condition, and a major reason why people discontinue contact lens wear, affects around 100 million people worldwide.
Professor Mark Willcox, Chief Scientific Officer at the Institute, said that the gathering of experts from as far afield as Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley Universities in the US, Japan and Scotland, as well as Australia, will be an exciting opportunity to advance the experimental process in research of therapeutic treatments for dry eye.
"This exchange is an important step in reaching agreement on current research priorities as well as coordinating international research efforts in a way that will best advance the development of effective dry eye treatments," Professor Willcox said.
"The multi-disciplinary nature of this exchange, which includes specialists in the area of clinical optometry and ophthalmology, physical chemistry, biochemistry and theoretical mathematics, is a wonderful opportunity to take a giant leap forward in the experimental process by using different resource bases with guidance and knowledge from these experts. Additionally, it will provide the opportunity to broaden possibilities for collaboration and to enhance opportunities to obtain industry linked research funding, particularly through the added funding potential created by this cross fertilisation of research areas", Professor Willcox added.
According to Professor Willcox, a critical component in developing more effective treatments for dry eye is our understanding of the tear film.
"An important outcome of the exchange will be discussion on a number of current controversies regarding how the tear film is stabilised. Researchers will have the chance to decide on priorities for experiments as well as allocating responsibility for those. The enhanced ability to coordinate research activities around the world will be of great benefit to our advances in this area," he said.
The exchange will conclude with an open session on Saturday 8 August where delegates will present on current theories of dry-eye and new treatment options. Limited seats are available for the day, which will be held at the Rupert Myers Theatre, University of New South Wales. Attendance is worth 11 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.
(Source: Institute for Eye Research: June 2009)