2015 ARC Linkage grant success

A/Prof Erica Fletcher, and Dr Bang Bui (Optometry and Vision Sciences, School of Health Sciences) have been awarded $351,953 for a project that aims to detail the precise effects that lasers have on eye cells, cell populations and the body as a whole. Laser treatments for sight problems are increasing but the effects of these laser applications on the unique immune systems of the eye and brain are unknown.

Previous work of the researchers has shown that a novel nanosecond laser when targeted to the eye can alter cells in the lasered eye and in the unlasered eye and the brain. This knowledge may be crucial for enhancing our understanding of the immune privileged state of the eye. In addition, it seeks to guide the development of future low energy lasers as important successful treatments.

A/Prof Andrew Turpin, A/Prof Allison McKendrick (Optometry and Vision Sciences, School of Health Sciences), Dr Stefan Zysset, and Prof Paul Artes have been awarded $234,260 for a project that seeks to develop a new, combined approach for quantifying both central and peripheral vision with a single test. Current methods for testing far peripheral vision are not efficient and not fully automated. Yet peripheral vision is important for tasks involving navigation and hazard avoidance such as driving. The project intends to invent and test new approaches to sampling and measuring the spatial extent of vision. The anticipated algorithms will be more accurate and efficient than current tests, will be suitable for older adults, and will enable ready assessment of vision for occupational tasks.

Influence of athletic footwear on lower limb biomechanics of pubertal girls

Associate Professor Adam Bryant (Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences) with Asics Oceania Pty Ltd/Asics Oceania.

This project aims to determine whether athletic footwear with appropriate design features can help improve neuromuscular control and, in doing so, reduce the potentially deleterious forces on the knee and lower limb structures of pubertal girls. As girls reach puberty, they become less able to control the movement patterns of their lower limbs, particularly in high-demand tasks like running and jumping. Better-designed footwear for pubertal girls may improve movement patterns, decrease the likelihood of musculoskeletal injury and improve physical activity participation rates. Project outcomes may lead to the development of such footwear, and are also anticipated to expand our understanding of female developmental biomechanics.

The effect of cochlear implants on cognitive decline in ageing Australians

Dr Julia Sarant (Audiology and Speech Pathology, School of Health Sciences) with Cochlear Limited; Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital

This project aims to investigate the impact of cochlear implants on cognitive function in elderly people with deafness. Deafness has been found to be independently associated with a 30 to 40 per cent accelerated rate of cognitive decline in elderly adults. There is currently no effective treatment for cognitive decline. The intended outcomes of this observational study will help us to understand the biological process of cognitive decline, whether hearing loss is causal, and whether the process can be altered. These findings should be applicable to all individuals with hearing loss. If cochlear implants delay cognitive decline, this would significantly affect policy, quality of life for the elderly, and the cost to society.