Group Leader

Clinical Professor Stephanie Watson

Group Members

Associate Professor Nick Di Girolamo
Dr. Ken Ooi
Gayani Gunasekara
Maria Cabrera
Dr. Dana Robaei
Associate Professor Alex Hunyor
Dr. Maria Cabrerar Aguas
Dr. Yi Chiao-Li
Associate Professor John Foster
Dr. Jack Tan
Associate Professor Mark Daniell
Dr. Daniel Barthelmes
Dr. Martina Bosch
Dr. John Males
Dr. Yves Kerdraon
Professor Peter McCluskey
Professor Denis Wakefield
Dr. Holly Inglis
Professor Michael Friedlander
Associate Professor Frances Boyle

Research Activity

Stem cell repair

Our novel and world-first stem cell transplantation technique, growing corneal stem cells on a contact lens (the carrier) and then transferring them to the ocular surface of the patient has already successfully restored sight to a number of patients.

Stem cells play an important roll in restoring clear vision and comfort to the surface of the eye.

Our research in this area continues, with a particular focus on the factors required to promote stem cell repair of the ocular surface.

Sutureless surgery

Sutures are used to seal ocular wounds and in corneal surgery, including corneal transplantation.

Sutures, however, have a number of disadvantages, which includes infection.

Our research team has developed an innovative laser-activated chitosan bioadhesive that can be rapidly applied to the eye with high-burst pressure.

It is also capable of delivering anti-infective and anti-inflammatory agents to wounds.

New Treatments for Dry Eye

Dry Eye and Blepharitis (eyelid inflammation) are common eye disorders, affecting up to 40% of people. Many of these people suffer ongoing discomfort despite available therapies, significantly impacting their quality of life.

We have developed a novel new eye drop, which provides relief whilst uniquely addressing all of the underlying aspects.

Clinical trials have found decreased signs and symptoms of blepharitis and dry eye after use, treating both the cause and the symptoms of the conditions, with less side effects.

We are currently in the process of seeking funding for Phase 2 trials.

Serious Ocular Infections Project

Eye infection can irreversibly damage the eye, resulting in vision loss and even blindness.

Prompt and appropriate use of antimicrobials is critical when it comes to saving sight, but antimicrobial resistance is emerging as a significant problem.

Our research aims to determine the pattern of pathogenic microbes and prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in the most common, serious and sight-threatening infections encountered in the field of ophthalmology, namely endophthalmitis (infection of the globe) and microbial keratitis (infection of the cornea).

This project is supported by the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation.

National Keratoconus Registry

This project will utilise a world-leading registry technology platform developed at the Save Sight Institute to collect high quality national data in clinical settings. The purpose of the data collation is to assess keratoconus patient outcomes after receiving corneal cross-linking treatment.

Evidence-based management guidelines, evaluation of new interventions and a true indication of patient related outcomes will be the result, informing the profession’s approach to treating keratoconus in the future.

This project is supported by Keratoconus Australia and the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia.

Link Between Breast Cancer Treatment and Dry Eye

We have conducted the first prospective survey study of breast cancer patients on aromatase inhibitors, and have found an increase in the occurrence of dry eye. We continue to investigate this link.

This project is supported by the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia.

New Treatments for Viral Blindness

Herpes simplex keratitis is a leading cause of infection blindness in developed nations, and is commonly seen by ophthalmologists throughout Australia.

Our research group is currently developing Australian guidelines for anti-viral therapy for this infection, ultimately aiming to preserve vision for those people affected.

This project is supported by the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation.

National Surveillance Studies

In partnership with the Australian and New Zealand Ophthalmic Surveillance Unit, we are investigating the national incidence of scarring disease of the eye surface (ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, Steven Johnson Syndrome) and end-stage limbal stem cell failure.