Catherine was raised on a cattle farm in Harrisville near Ipswich Queensland, and grew up with six siblings. A proud grandmother to five, beautiful grandchildren, her greatest hope for the future is being able to watch them grow. To do this Catherine needs her eyesight.
Currently, the standard treatment for wet AMD is regular injections into the eye. The treatment does not cure the disease but stabilises and maintains the best vision for as long as possible. The earlier the disease is detected, the more vision you are likely to maintain. Luckily for Catherine, she was diagnosed early.
“The optometrist picked up something in a test that was impacting my vision, and immediately referred me to Associate Professor Anthony Kwan at QEI for further testing.”
“I was only 65. I was terrified that like my grandmother I could be going blind.”
Associate Professor Kwan’s tests confirmed that Catherine had both wet and dry AMD.
Since Catherine started receiving her injections, her vision loss has slowed down, and the wet AMD is under control, however she still has vision loss from her dry AMD.
Currently there is no effective treatment for dry AMD anywhere in the world. However, right at this moment, a huge amount of medical research is being done to find a treatment. Associate Professor Damien Harkin, in a joint appointment between the Queensland Eye Institute and the Queensland University of Technology, has been working on a new treatment for AMD.
The research is focused on developing a cell-based therapy for AMD, based upon the cultivation and implantation of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.
These RPE cells are essential to the health of the normal macula but are lost in AMD, especially the dry form. Therefore replacing these lost cells with healthy ones grown in the laboratory is being attempted in an effort to rescue the retina from further vision loss.
Our scientists have found that the fibroin membrane supports the growth and essential functions of human RPE cells in the laboratory. The goal of this research is to show that RPE cells grown on fibroin membrane can repair the types of damage to the macula.
We believe we are close to unravelling this mystery through medical research. With your help, we believe it will be possible in our lifetime.