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First round of research grants awarded by our Future Vision Foundation!


FutureVision Foundation logo

Following significant interest, the Future Vision Foundation is pleased to announce the successful applicants for the first round of grant funding.

Launched in 2021 by Vision Eye Institute, the not-for-profit research foundation encourages and supports the research efforts of staff and associated clinicians. This includes staff with little-to-no formal research experience but who are keen to improve diagnosis, treatments and/or healthcare experiences for patients with eye conditions.

Seventeen applications were reviewed by the Foundation’s advisory committee using criteria based on current NHMRC guidelines. A shortlist was then considered by the distinguished board of directors, including A/Prof Tim Roberts, Ms Fiona Davies, Mr Joe Redner, Mr James Thiedeman and Prof Fiona Stapleton.

The full list of successful applications is available below. All research projects are required to undergo the appropriate ethics approval.

The Future Vision Foundation would also like to acknowledge the contribution made by Mr Richard Grills, not only to the Foundation’s advisory committee but to the ophthalmic industry in general. Mr Grills founded Designs For Vision in 1978, starting with two optical dispensing outlets before switching to become a distributor of ophthalmic products in 1982. Designs For Vision (now a Paragon Care brand) remains one of the leading distributors of ophthalmic and optometric products throughout Australia and New Zealand. Mr Grills passed away on 12 July 2022.

Vale Richard Grills.

Read more about the Future Vision Foundation

Successful grant applications (Round 1, 2022)

Vision-related quality of life of mild glaucoma patients with extended depth of focus IOL at cataract surgery

Dr Jason Cheng,1 Dr Gary Schiller,1 Dr Alex Ioannidis,2 A/Prof Tim Roberts,3 Ms Faten Assaf1

The aim of this research project is to understand the safety and efficacy of using an EDOF IOL in a series of patients with concurrent mild-to-moderate glaucoma (requiring iStent microshunt insertion at cataract surgery).

This study represents a combination retrospective and prospective approach. Files of all patients who have previously undergone cataract surgery with implantation of an EDOF IOL and iStent microshunt at Vision Eye Institute practices will be reviewed.

Data collection will include pre and postoperative variables, including corrected and uncorrected distance and intermediate visual acuity, refraction, target refraction, intraocular pressure, visual field and ocular coherence tomography. Intraoperative and postoperative safety will be assessed by the presence/absence of complications. Patients will be sent a vision-related quality of vision questionnaire to provide a qualitative understanding of surgical outcomes.

1Vision Eye Institute Hurstville
2Vision Eye Institute Blackburn South, Camberwell and Coburg
3Vision Eye Institute Chatswood

The Amazing Amber Project – Pilot Study

Mr Eagle Ngo,1 Mr Jaguar Ngo,1 Dr Jason Cheng,2 Dr Rushmia Karim3

This research project aims to investigate whether the children’s story book, ‘Amazing Amber’, can increase patching treatment compliance as well as improve children’s attitudes towards patching treatment in children with amblyopia.

The researchers will conduct a randomised control trial, comparing a control group to an intervention group. The control group will receive standard informative brochures for patching therapy and colourful eye patches. The intervention group will receive the same standard informative brochures and colourful eye patches, as well as the children’s storybook, ‘Amazing Amber’, which parents will be encouraged to read to their child as a strategy for making the process of patching easier. On recruitment, patients will be randomly allocated to a treatment group and provided with the treatment materials and a patching diary to complete at home.

At the 12-week follow-up, the patching diary will be collected and parents will be asked to complete the Amblyopia Treatment Index (a 19-item questionnaire that has been validated to measure adverse effects of treatment, treatment compliance and social stigma). Information on the child’s sex, age, BCVA in each eye, how long patching therapy has been used, whether and how long atropine therapy has been used and type of amblyopia will be recorded by the research team to be included in statistical analyses.

Cartoon illustration of superhero Amazing Amber

1The University of Queensland
2Vision Eye Institute Hurstville
3Vision Eye Institute Chatswood, Drummoyne, Tuggerah Lakes

Sudden progression in patients following long-term collagen cross-linking for keratoconus: pilot study

Dr Abi Tenen,1 Prof Rasik Vajpayee,2 Prof Colin Chan3

This research project aims to detail a cohort of Vision Eye Institute patients who have described sudden deterioration in vision at long-term follow-up.

The findings will provide the basis for developing additional investigative initiatives in this subset of patients. This study represents a retrospective review of patient records of patients who previously attended VEI for collagen cross-linking to halt progression of keratoconus. Demographic and clinical variables to be collated include (but are not limited to) age, gender, family history of keratoconus, intraoperative parameters and both preoperative and postoperative visual and refractive status.

1Vision Eye Institute Blackburn South, Melbourne
2Vision Eye Institute Blackburn South, Coburg and Melbourne
3Vision Eye Institute Chatswood

OCTA Signal Quality Augmentation using the Isometric Hand-Grip Test to maximise detection of macular neovascularisation in AMD: a double-blind, randomised crossover trial

Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith PhD,1 Mr Matt Trinh,1 Dr Jeff Friedrich,2 Dr Simon Chen,2 Dr David Ng2

This research project aims to determine if the Isometric Hand-Grip Test can improve optical coherence tomography angiography detectability and signal quality of macular neovascularization in patients with treatment-naïve, age-related macular degeneration.

This study will be a single-centre, double-blind, randomized, cross-over clinical trial. Watch Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith and Mr Matt Trinh discuss the project in this short video.

1University of New South Wales, Centre for Eye Health
2Vision Eye Institute Chatswood

Creation of a clinical guide to assist language and neuropsychological assessment in children with visual disorders

Dr Rushmia Karim,1 Dr Chris Hodge PhD,2 Dr Rebecca Sutherland PhD,3 Ms Antoinette Hodge PhD4

The aim of this research project is to develop a practical guide to help clinical and neuropsychologists understand the impact of visual disorders during assessment in patients with language and/or cognitive impairments and how this impact may be ameliorated during the assessment with appropriate protocols.

This project represents the development of an evidence-based practical guide. The guide would further serve as the basis for a review article for submission.

1Vision Eye Institute Chatswood, Drummoyne, Tuggerah Lakes
2Vision Eye Institute
3The University of Sydney
4The Children’s Hospital Westmead

The impact of a faulty tear film on the outcome of IOL surgery

Dr Jim Kokkinakis,1 Prof Gerard Sutton,2,3 A/Prof Michael Lawless,2,3,4 Dr Tess Huynh,2 Dr Gary Schiller,Ms Elena Binios2

The aim of this research project is to establish that a normal tear film prior to cataract surgery will improve surgical outcome and eye surface health; to establish that a low level of skin lipids found in patients will improve surgical outcomes; and to establish that increased levels of skin lipids are associated with signs and symptoms of dry eye.

This is a real-world study, targeting cataract surgery patients from a specific clinic. Demographic data such as age, medical status, and medications will be taken from the general history. Biometry data will be collated from the routine pre-surgical assessment. Part of the pre-surgical exam will be a dry eye evaluation that entails an OSDI score, tear film break-up time, TearView exam and scoring, tear film lipid layer thickness evaluation using Lipiview, and skin lipid quantification with sebumeter on the upper eyelids. If tear film optimisation is required of patients prior to surgery, the treatment will be recorded and considered with postoperative analysis. Following surgery on the second eye, the dry eye tests will be repeated in addition to routine postoperative vision and refractive assessments.

1The Eye Practice, Western Sydney University
2Vision Eye Institute Hurstville
3Vision Eye Institute Chatswood
4Vision Eye Institute Bondi Junction

Understanding the role of music in reducing anxiety in refractive surgery

Ms Shih Shih Ta,1 A/Prof Michael Lawless,1,2,3 Prof Gerard Sutton,1 Prof Colin Chan,1 Dr Tess Huynh,2 Dr Joe Reich,4 Dr Guy Olorenshaw,4 Dr Abi Tenen,4 Ms Nicole Moore4

The aim of this research project is to explore differences in patient anxiety, comfort and satisfaction levels following refractive surgery in patients with and without perioperative/intraoperative music. This study represents a non-randomised, prospective trial and will include patients aged 21 to 65 years of age undergoing primary laser refractive surgery for the treatment of myopia, hyperopia and/or astigmatism.

Participation is voluntary with patients not wearing headphones forming the control group. The test procedures will be performed prior to and following surgery.

1Vision Eye Institute Chatswood
2Vision Eye Institute Hurstville
3Vision Eye Institute Bondi Junction
4Vision Eye Institute Melbourne

Patient-surgeon discussion in phacovitrectomy surgery: an analysis of patient information, comfort and anxiety in the context of concurrent ocular disease, symptoms and vision-related quality of life

Ms Tram Nguyen,1 Ms Opal Mai,1 Dr Simon Chen1

The aim of this research project is to understand the current patient profile and understanding of the patient-surgeon discussion prior to phacovitrectomy surgery, with an emphasis on the patient desire for optical independence following surgery. This is a prospective study.

All patients at Vision Eye Institute Chatswood booked for phacovitrectomy surgery will be provided several questionnaires prior to proceeding and at 3–6 months following surgery. The questionnaires seek to understand patient comfort with the discussion, understanding of key surgery concepts and general comfort with proceeding to surgery and to understand current patient use of optical aids and the desire for optical independence following surgery.

Learn more about this project in the video below.

1Vision Eye Institute Chatswood

Personalising care for keratoconus patients through artificial intelligence

Ms Nicole Hallett,Dr Jingjing You PhD,1 Prof Colin Chan,2 Dr Tess Huynh,3 Dr Peter Kim,2 Dr Athena Roufas,2 Dr Chris Hodge PhD2

The main aims of this research project are to refine our existing model to help understand keratoconus (KC) and the present risk of progression in KC patients, and to provide a supplementary module to identify ectasia risk in laser surgery candidates by rating candidates against the spectrum of keratoconus patients.

This model would be presented in an easy-to-use, freely available, web-based/app platform for ophthalmic clinicians globally, allowing them to more confidently undertake therapeutic intervention at the earliest appropriate time, or in the context of laser refractive surgery, improve recognition of patients at risk of ectasia prior to proceeding to surgery.

The aim is achieving the successful development of an AI-based model to predict the disease progression, the model will need to be further optimised and validated with a large dataset. An interactive web-based tool/program will be developed. Currently, the model is comprised of coding that is not interactive and not useable by broader clinicians. An interactive interface needs to be developed and built for users to access the program. A software development service has been consulted, who have indicated this is a feasible proposition. However, it requires a financial investment for the expertise and time required to develop and implement this part of the project.

1University of Sydney, Save Sight Institute
2Vision Eye Institute Chatswood
3Vision Eye Institute Hurstville


Anaesthesia in cataract surgery: retrospective review of safety and efficacy

Dr Rachel Yeong,1 A/Prof Michael Lawless,2 Dr Liz Feeney3

The main aims of this research project are to understand the patient profile, anaesthetic requirements and the safety of anaesthesia practices used in routine cataract surgery. This study represents a retrospective approach.

Files of all patients who have previously undergone cataract surgery at Vision Eye Institute Chatswood will be reviewed. Data collection will include preoperative anaesthetic assessment, cataract surgery type (manual vs laser-assisted, additional procedures), anaesthesia type (local, regional, general), ASA class, analgesic drugs indicated and presence of anaesthetic-related complications.

General, de-identified patient demographic data including age, gender, general health and previous ocular and ocular surgical history will be collated for analysis and correlation to anaesthesia-related variables.

1Hornsby Hospital
2Vision Eye Institute Chatswood
3Sydney Anaesthetics

Using surgically discarded tissue for the fabrication of optically transparent endothelium for more surgical potentials

Prof Gerard Sutton,1 Dr Chris Hodge PhD,1 Dr Sheng Hua PhD,2 Ms Michelle Phung1

The main aim of this research is to use lens capsule discs from discarded tissue as a platform for the growth of primary corneal endothelial cells that have been acquired from donors. After which, the construct will be compared to a normal corneal endothelium and be tested for its potential as a substrate for corneal endokeratoplasty.

The applicants will develop human type I and IV collagen bioink from discarded stromal and lens capsules using our patented bioink formulae. The combination of this bioink and the novel corneal endothelium will be used to explore advanced cornea prototypes to be tested in vitro.

Due to the source availability, human collagen is rarely used to fabricate bioinks and implants and limited studies have been conducted on analysing human collagen extracted from different tissue sites. The important role collagen plays as basic tissue substrate and its huge potential in tissue repair highlights the importance of being able to extract and ‘recycle’ collagen from banked human tissue.

The study design will include tissue collection, transport and storage at the Save Sight Institute, invention of a novel corneal endothelial construct using lens capsule, and preparation of collagen biolink and potential exploration.

1Vision Eye Institute Chatswood
2University of Sydney, Save Sight Institute

The impact of personality on postoperative subjective outcomes in cataract surgery and the accuracy of surgeon assessment of patient personality profiling

Dr Alex Ioannidis,1,2 Ms Kate Roberts1

The main aim of this research is to (1) understand the influence of patient personality on IOL choice and correlate personality type with postoperative patient satisfaction and (2) assess the difference between the Ten Item Personality Measure (TIPI) and the ‘blinded’ surgeon evaluation to understand the correlation between patient and surgeon evaluation.

This represents a prospective analysis. Patients undergoing cataract surgery will be provided with the TIPI prior to surgery. Following the assessment and patient discussion, the operating surgeon will be provided the TIPI to complete, based on their interpretation of the patient personality profile. The surgeon will not have access to the patient outcomes prior to surgery.

At the final postoperative follow-up visit, clinical outcomes will be collated. Patients will be provided with a further survey to determine satisfaction levels and the presence of optical phenomena, such as glare and halos, and the impact on vision-related quality of life. Clinical and psychometric outcomes will be correlated with preoperative personality assessment.

Dr Ioannidis discusses the research project and research support at Vision Eye Institute below.

1Vision Eye Institute Camberwell
2Vision Eye Institute Blackburn South, Coburg

The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult your ophthalmologist for specific medical advice.

Date last reviewed: 2023-08-04 | Date for next review: 2025-08-04

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