OCULAR SURFACE REPAIR AND RECONSTRUCTION
Associate Professor Nick Di Girolamo
Stem cell repair
Professor Watson and A/Professor Di Girolamo have developed novel and world first stem cell transplantation techniques that have successfully restored sight to many patients. Stem cells are needed to restore clear vision and comfort to the ocular surface. Current research is focussing on the factors needed to promote stem cell repair of the ocular surface.
Ocular wounds from trauma and ulcers, commonly from infection and inflammation, are considered as ophthalmic emergencies, and can lead to blindness. Sutures are used to seal a wound and for corneal grafts. Sutures however have a number of significant disadvantages, including acting as a nidus for infection.
The team has developed an innovative laser-activated chitosan bioadhesive that can be rapidly applied to the eye and has a high burst pressure. It is also capable of delivering anti-infective and anti-inflammatory agents to wounds.
Dry eye is the commonest eye disorder, affecting 1 in 5 people. It occurs with blepharitis, chronic eyelid inflammation, and many patients continue to suffer despite available therapies. In a clinical trial topical statin was found to be a novel tear film stabiliser. It is the first drop developed to treat all underlying aspects of blepharitis with dry eye.
Optimising health service delivery for patients with Ocular Surface Disease
Diseases affecting the ocular surface threaten vision and produce ocular pain with significant cost to the community and health system. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are needed. However, many patients currently suffer as diagnosis is often delayed, attendance at multiple clinics is needed and many require life-threatening immunosuppressive treatment.
To improve health service delivery, a multidisciplinary clinic will be established at the Save Sight Institute and a data management system developed. A prospective survey of patients attending with Cicatrising conjunctivitis (a severe form of Ocular Surface Disease) in Australia and New Zealand is being carried out at the Save Sight Institute via the Australian and New Zealand Ophthalmic Surveillance Unit.