The Lions Save-Sight Foundation is committed to supporting the Lions Eye Institute by awarding Scholarships to enable world class medical scientists and researchers to work at the Institute.
This support consists of the Jack Hoffman Scholarship for an appointee to conduct a sight project for one year at the LEI, and the LSSF and LEI jointly funded Brian King Post Doctoral Fellowship.
The Lions Save-Sight Foundation also provides ongoing funding for research and equipment for the world class scientists conducting ground breaking research at the Institute.
The Brian King Post Doctoral Fellowship
The prestigious Brian King Post-Doctoral Fellowship has been awarded to Dr Jessica Mountford. Dr Mountford is the 6th Brian King Post-Doctoral Fellow and began her work at the Institute in early March 2021. Her research funded by the Lions Save-Sight Foundation and Lions Eye Institute is “The Myopia Generation – Exploring the rise of early-onset myopia following the digital age and a world post COVID-19 lockdown.”
The incidence of myopia is rapidly becoming one of the world’s leading causes of distant visual impairment. In fact, modelling has predicted approximately 50% of the world’s population will become myopic by the year 2050. Current research indicates that the sharpest rise is occurring in school age children as young as 6 years old.
Dr Mountford’s project broadly aims to investigate how both the known genetic variants associated with developing early-onset myopia increase the predisposition to disease when exposed to environmental factors such as near work, education and lack of outdoor activity. Additionally, it aims to examine the effects of long-term lockdown periods following the COVID-19 pandemic to help predict the associated increased health burden and help facilitate methods of prevention and treatment for individuals identified at being high risk.
Dr Paula Fuller-Carter
From January 2022 the Lions Save-Sight Foundation will be funding 50% of Dr Paula Fuller-Carter’s research salary. Dr Paula Fuller-Carter is a senior researcher with over 15 years’ experience working in biomedical research institutes in Perth. She joined Dr Carvalho’s research group at the Lions Eye Institute in 2017, and has since relished the challenge of identifying molecular mechanisms that can be targeted in future therapies for vision disorders.
Inherited retinal degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in children and working age adults in Australia. There is no treatment or cure for IRD that can preserve or restore vision, leaving patients with a poor prognosis. In the last 10 years, great advances have been made towards the development and testing of gene-specific therapies for several different types of IRDs which are now slowly moving into clinical trials. The development of a general gene-independent treatment that would benefit a wider number of patients in a shorter timeframe would be extremely beneficial and have high clinical applications. We hope that Dr Fuller-Carter’s work will lead to the development of novel therapies to treat IRD patients and stop the loss of central and daylight vision.
Reading glasses (in good condition) are donated from far and wide in Western Australia and collected by the Lions Clubs throughout the State from a range of collection points including optometrists and funeral parlours. Until recently all these glasses were sorted and packed by dedicated volunteers of the Foundation and then sent on to many Third World countries, including Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Ghana and Uganda.
As sorting and dispatching facilities at the Lions Save-Sight Foundation has become more limited, Lions Clubs are now encouraged to sort and send their collected spectacles directly to Lions Recycle for Sight in Queensland. Glasses sent to Queensland are graded and sent to countries in need. The Queensland hub has developed into a major centre, and in a joint venture with the Queensland Department of Correction, much of the maintenance and grading of glasses is undertaken by prisoners under day release. This is to great advantage for both parties.
Equipping the New LEI Laboratories
In 2013, the Harry Perkins Institute for Medical Research officially opened the doors of its brand new facility. This is a multi-storey building adjacent to the Lions Eye Institute at the QEII Medical Centre in Nedlands. The Lions Eye Institute now occupies a full floor in this new building enabling expansion of research and collaboration.
During the construction of the new building the Lions Save-Sight Foundation raised funds to help equip the new floor with laboratory equipment. Many Lions Clubs donated generously and along with support from the Australian Lions Foundation and Lions Clubs International Foundation, over $180,000 was raised.
Screening for blindness and eye disease has come a long way since the early days when the Foundation’s first screening projects were carried out in a caravan.
Until a few years back the LSSF had regular screenings all over Western Australia for glaucoma, amblyopia and diabetic retinopathy using professional staff from the Lions Eye Institute and volunteers from the Lions Clubs. The Foundation has received several government and community awards for the volunteer work.
The advent of digital screening – “Teleophthalmology”, the sending of images of the eye via the internet – from a rural or remote region to the Lions Eye Institute has brought about a much greater level of precision and enables screenings to be carried out in remote areas.
The Lions Save-Sight Foundation’s screening program is currently under review to more accurately address the requirements of the public. Today there is no longer a need for Lions to conduct glaucoma screening and the need for alternative screening programmes in other sight related areas is being investigated.
Perth Half Marathon – Run for Sight
This event takes place in August each year and is organised by the West Australian Marathon Club with the proceeds donated to the Lions Save-Sight Foundation to support research into eye diseases and blindness at the Lions Eye Institute. Local Lions Clubs man the water stations along the course and assist as marshals as required. Participants have the option of a 10 km or 5 km walk or run. The 5 km option has been designed for those who want to be part of this great community event but feel 10 kms is too far. It is ideally suited for walkers or the young with their parents. Make a note to be part of this great fun run!