Vitreo-Retinal Research Group

Group Leaders

Dr Andrew Chang (Director)
Dr Meidong Zhu

Staff members

Dr Meidong Zhu (Research Team Manager, Senior Research Fellow)
Mr Thomas Hong (Clinical Trial Manager)
Ms Lily Wong (Clinical Trial Coordinator)
Miss Nichole Joachim (Research Assistant)

Student candidates

Dr Geoff Broadhead (PhD candidate)
Miss Wijeyanthy Wijeyankumar (PhD candidate)
Dr Adil Syed (MPhil candidate)
Dr Jamie Chew (MPhil candidate)

The Vitreo-Retinal Research Group was established in October 2012, and has been connected with the Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney since then. The clinic and research group supervise Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) students through University of Sydney, as well as employing post-doctorate research fellows and ophthalmology registrars. Sydney Vitreo-Retinal Research Group is also connected with Sydney Retina and Day Surgery, which is an ophthalmic practice in central Sydney, primarily focussed on the care of patients with vitreo-retinal conditions.

Sydney Vitreo-Retinal Research Group is committed to ongoing research, and is conducting a range of clinical trials, studies and laboratory research into age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic macular oedema and macular holes and other macular conditions that require surgeries.

Sydney Vireo-Retinal Research Group has collaborations with various research laboratories, university institutes nationally and internationally.

Research Projects


Investigator initiated clinical trials:

Intravitreal Aflibercept for the Treatment of Previous anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) treatment resistant AMD (Eylea study)
The aim of this study is to prospectively evaluate the effectiveness of intravitreal Aflibercept for patients with exudative AMD that have responded poorly to previous anti -VEGF therapies. The study recruited 50 patients for 24 month treatment and follow-up.

The effectiveness of Aflibercept through individualised treatment on exudative AMD patients
This is an observational study of patients receiving aflibercept for AMD. Patients are given three initial loading does, then followed monthly and treated with an “as need” regime based on optical coherence tomography (OCT) and vision criteria. The recruitment is still open.

Saffron and atrophic AMD. A clinical trial investigating the effect of saffron on the progression of atrophic AMD
In conjunction with Sydney Retina and Day Surgery, we are conducting a clinical trial investigating the effect of saffron on the progression of atrophic AMD. This is a 6-month prospective, double blind, placebo controlled crossover study, with a further 12-month extension phase. Outcomes will primarily be measured by visual acuity, flicker perimetry, electrophysiology (mfERG and pERG) and adverse event monitoring. Secondary measures include OCT, fundus autofluorescence (FAF) and retinal examination findings. Currently 100 patients have been enrolled. The recruitment has been closed.

Intravitreal aflibercept for the treatment of treatment resistant diabetic macular oedema
This is a prospective, non randomised clinical trial with 24 month treatment and follow up period. The aim of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of intravitreal Aflibercept in the treatment of macular oedema with central involvement secondary to diabetes that resistant to the previous treatment. The recruitment is still open.

Prospective, Randomised, Controlled, Double Masked, Multi-Centre Clinical Trial Comparing Epiretinal Membrane (ERM) Surgery With And Without Internal Limiting Membrane (ILM) Peeling
This study is a 12 month prospective, randomised clinical trial conducting in Sydney Eye Hospital and Sydney Retinal & Day Surgery to compare the visual, anatomy and functional outcomes in ERM surgery with or without ILM peeling. We expect that the study results will provide further information and will help guide and standardize the surgical treatment of macular ERM; to minimize unnecessary surgical risks, as well as to help economize healthcare cost.

Pharmaceutical company sponsored clinical trials:

Sydney Vitreo-Retinal Research Group conducts a number of pharmaceutical company sponsored clinical trials on wet and dry AMD as well as diabetic macular oedema.

Other research projects

Donor Eye Program: Clinicopathological correlation studies in retinal diseases
A donor eye program has been established at in Sydney Vitreo-Retinal Research Group in collaboration with the Lions NSW Eye Bank, providing a way for patients to bequeath their eyes for both corneal transplantation and ocular disease research purposes. Linking histopathological findings with clinical history of patients with retinal disorders is vital to increase our understanding of these conditions. Over 350 patients have been enrolled in this program. 14 patients had donated their eyes in the past 2 years.

Correlation of Macular Structure and Function Using Macular Integrity Assessment (MAIA) and Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) on patients with macular hole and macular epiretinal membranes
This study is to systematically describe patterns of impairment of macular function in patients with focal macular disease including macular hole and epiretinal macular membrane using MAIA micro perimeter. It will also methodically correlate macular function impairment with structural pathology identified on ocular coherence tomography (OCT) and digital fundus photography.

Laboratory research
The laboratory researches on histology, immunohistochemistry and genetics of AMD and diabetic retinopathy are collaborated with a number of overseas research institute and the laboratory in University of Sydney.