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Research refocuses on the ageing eye

June 25, 2013

Research refocuses on the ageing eye Professor Jonathan Crowston presents as part of the Eye and Ear's150th anniversary public lecture series


Senior ophthalmic researcher, Professor Jonathan Crowston presented last week on the unique challenges facing the medical and research community from the world's ageing population.

Challenges of the ageing eye, the second in the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital's 150th anniversary public lecture series, was held on Wednesday at the Eye and Ear's Lucy Jones Hall. The lecture explored how conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration will become more prevalent as a greater percentage of the population falls into the 65 and older age range.

Professor Crowston, currently Professor of Ophthalmology with the University of Melbourne, Senior Clinician at the Eye and Ear hospital and Managing Director for the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), said these conditions are becoming increasingly critical from a research perspective.

“Research and care which focuses on age-related disease will become progressively more important as health and community services struggle to cope with demand from older Australians.

“To deal with the challenges of an ageing population who will be increasingly prone to age-related eye conditions, we must remain at the forefront of eye research. When clinicians and scientists work together, research can be translated into clinical care more quickly,” said Professor Crowston.

In 2009, there were almost 575,000 Australians aged 40 or over with vision loss and of these people, around 66,000 are blind. By the year 2020, these numbers will rise to over 800,000 and 102,750 respectively, according to Vision2020 Australia.

A 2011 report from Deloitte Access Economics & Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2011 found one in seven - or one million Australians over the age of 50 - has some evidence of the disease. The risk of macular degeneration increases significantly with age.

Ophthalmologist Dr Richard Stawell was the evening’s MC and noted, “Eye disease and vision loss present major – and growing – challenges in Australia and around the world for the people affected by them and the health and community services supporting them.”

Professor Stephen O'Leary will host the third lecture in the series, on behalf of Melbourne University's Department of Otolaryngology on July 9. Email to register your interest.