“There are approximately 4 billion people in the world who need optimum vision to maximise their opportunities and quality of life. Nine percent of the world’s population, 625 million people, are vision impaired or blind because they are living with uncorrected refractive error, which can be solved by having a local eye care practitioner that can prescribe and supply the necessary spectacles and examine eyes for signs of blinding disease,” says Professor Brien Holden, CEO of the Vision CRC and Brien Holden Vision Institute.
the needs of those 4 billion people requires breakthrough science and
technology, and the 625 million without vision care need world’s best systems to develop capacity for the delivery of vision care in every community in need.”
Since 2003, the Vision Cooperative Research Centre (Vision CRC) has been converting breakthrough research into successful products to correct and treat refractive errors.
The CRC has brought over $1 billion dollars in research funds back into Australia, in addition to more than $250 million in royalties through licensing their key product, Silicone Hydrogel contact lenses, to commercial partners.
Australian innovations in contact lenses and spectacles for treatment of myopia has sold $25 billion worth of product, with the high oxygen contact lenses co-invented by the CRC accounting for more than 50% of the soft contact lens market globally.
The CRC is working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through their “Model of Vision Care” program, which aims to investigate practical solutions for improving systems for the delivery of eye care in these communities. Royalties have helped fund partner initiatives to deliver these services.
“Working closely with Regional Eye Health Coordinators and the associated Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS), we have provided over 45,000 eye examinations”
says Professor Holden.
The CRC is currently working on a “Retinal Imaging System”, a cost effective device to provide early, automatic, diagnosis of blinding eye disease such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration. This innovation has the potential to significantly lower the cost of such disease to the health system.
“Absolutely tragic” says Professor Holden, responding to the recent cuts to the CRC Program. “CRCs are the jewel in the crown of translational research in Australia.”
“The Program is a very attractive way of utilising Australian science to create social and economic benefit not only for Australia, but the world.”
The Vision CRC is currently rebidding as a Public Good CRC in Round 17.