“Often referred to as the most valued of our senses, sight is a gift to be treasured.” Professor Bill Morgan
Your continued support ensures patients like Bruce, Jill, Eamon and Yelaina will continue to receive the most up-to-date treatment available, saving their sight for as long as possible. Read more about how the Lions Eye Institute is helping to provide the best possible vision to our patients.
Bruce, patient of Lions Outback Vision
Blindness is three times higher in Aboriginal Australians.
Bruce is a senior Bardi man and artist in residence at the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm. He is a traditional pearl shell carver and a cultural guide. Good vision is imperative to Bruce for his craft, and he shows no signs of wanting to slow down. Bruce lives remotely from Broome and his cataracts were affecting his vision. Thanks to the Lions Outback Vision Kimberley Eye Hub, he was able to access cataract surgery in his left eye without having to make the trip to Perth, some 2,200 km away. He was able to have his pre and post operation visits close to home as well.
It is not feasible for most residents living in regional and remote Western Australia to make the trip to Perth as it often includes a lengthy stay and is costly.
“The XEN Gel Stent changed my life.” Jill, 75-year-old patient of the Lions Eye Institute
In 2002 Jill’s ophthalmologist confirmed she had glaucoma and advised her to see Professor Bill Morgan at the Lions Eye Institute. Jill commenced treatment with eye drops, but they didn’t work. At 54 years old, Jill was concerned she might have to retire early. In 2009 Jill learned that Professor Morgan had co-invented a microfistula tube, now known as the XEN Gel Stent, which required minimally invasive surgery, and jumped at the chance to be involved in the clinical trials.
“I feel so much better since having the XEN Gel Stents,” said Jill. “They cannot restore my lost vision, but they retain existing vision. This means I can still do my research and drive during the day. I cannot help reflecting on how things might have been if I had not had the benefit of the XEN Gel Stent.”
The fight to save Eamon’s sight
Usher syndrome is exceptionally rare and cruel. Babies are born deaf, and towards their teens they develop retinitis pigmentosa which causes night-blindness, loss of peripheral vision and eventually blindness.
Eamon and his younger brother Kealan were diagnosed with Usher syndrome at the ages of five and three, and are regularly monitored at the Lions Eye Institute by Associate Professor Fred Chen.
To stop the deterioration of their vision, Associate Professor Chen and his team are developing new gene editing techniques to fix the mutations causing vision loss in patients with retinitis pigmentosa. “Gene editing therapies could potentially be used to treat all of our patients with Usher syndrome,” said Associate Professor Chen.
Providing hope for Yelaina
15-year-old Yelaina was diagnosed with Stargardt disease in 2020 after experiencing a dramatic loss in her eyesight.
“It’s kind of scary. I found it frightening and upsetting,” said Yelaina.
Yelaina was given hope thanks to an early-phase clinical trial at the Lions Eye Institute, using a drug called tinlarabent. Children aged 12 to 15 years old from Australia and Taiwan were recruited to the trial. Currently, this is the only hope Yelaina has to save her eyesight.
Yelaina’s mum said that thanks to the clinical trial she is filled with hope. “But without people’s generosity, the work couldn’t continue. Research is expensive,” she said.