“It’s very, very scary – I don’t want to lose my sight.”
Carrie-Anne will never forget her terrible shock the day she realised her eyesight was failing. On holiday with her daughter and boyfriend, she’d been enjoying the scenery from the car window.
“I said, ‘look at those bunnies’ – but they were actually tree stumps,” says Carrie-Anne. “I was nearly blind when I was urgently referred to the Lions Eye Institute.”
Carrie-Anne has had type 1 diabetes since she was nine. Now 43, diabetic retinopathy is causing bleeding and swelling inside her eyes. She struggles with blurred vision and ‘floaters’ – large shapes obscuring her vision.
Carrie-Anne has also recently suffered a haemorrhage in her left eye. It has created a lot of pressure. If not treated correctly, she could experience permanent and profound vision loss. She will soon undergo urgent surgery to try to save as much of her remaining sight as possible.
Associate Professor Chandra Balaratnasingam, Carrie-Anne’s ophthalmologist at the Lions Eye Institute, has been researching diabetic retinopathy and other eye diseases that cause vision loss and blindness, using tissue deposits retrieved by the Lions Eye Bank.
With consent from donors’ families, donated tissue from the Lions Eye Bank allows researchers like Associate Professor Balaratnasingam to study disease-related changes in the eyes, which couldn’t be observed otherwise.
The goal is to find a new therapeutic strategy to prevent vision loss and blindness caused by common conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. Researchers are also attempting to identify vision problems earlier and intervene in time to save more people’s sight.
The need for new therapies and screening processes is growing as our population ages.
By 2030, as diabetes affects more people, the number of Australians with diabetic retinopathy is projected to increase by over 40%.
Around the world, from 2020 to 2040, the number of people with age-related macular degeneration is projected to rise by 47%.
“The treatment I have received has made a vast difference to my life and I thank the Lions Eye Institute for that. But, to make more progress, their researchers need more funds,” says Carrie-Anne.
Please give today to help our researchers find new and more effective ways to treat people with eye diseases like Carrie-Anne.