New treatment for leading cause of blindness in Australia

Professor Robert Casson examines a patient's eyes.

Professor Casson examines the eyes of a patient.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide have developed a new treatment for the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in Australia.

The research team, led by Professor Robert Casson from the University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, has been investigating the effect of a novel low energy retinal laser on a condition called retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which affects approximately 1/3500 people in Australia.

The novel laser, developed by Adelaide-based company Ellex, has been shown to improve cellular energy and the survival of retinal cells in a rodent disease model of RP.

“We translated this research to the clinic and performed a small clinical trial involving patients with the condition and demonstrated a tendency to improve vision in these patients,” said Professor Casson.

“The effect of the laser on retinal tissue is quite extraordinary, however further research is needed to determine the optimal frequency of delivery before undertaking a larger scale clinical trial.”

The research was recently announced as a recipient of a grant of $525,106 under the Australian Government grant to drive better health care through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Development Grant scheme.

The funding will assist researchers in developing optimal frequency parameters for the needle in the lab, an important step before a larger clinical trial can be pursued.

Tagged in news brief, blindness, Professor Robert Casson, NHMRC