Saving Sight Through Novel BioTech Innovations for Inherited Retinal Disease

Project Details

Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are the most common cause of blindness in working aged adults, affecting over two million people worldwide. These conditions usually onset in childhood, and cause progressive vision loss, generally ending in legal blindness. Until recently, IRD patients had no hope of a cure. This is rapidly changing, with the advent of bionic eye technologies (3 x regulatory approved) and gene therapy (1 x regulatory approved). Following rapidly behind are the treatment options of CRISPR gene editing, stem cell transplantation and other neuroprotective agents. Importantly, these treatments are also likely to be able to help patients with more common causes of vision loss in the future, including glaucoma (globally, 76 million) & age-related macular degeneration (196 million), but will be first used in IRD.

This large program, funded by an NHMRC Investigator grant and philanthropic support, will assist in the development and assessment of new IRD treatments. It includes a large-scale natural history study of IRD, investigation of genotype-phenotype correlations, development of novel outcome measures and clinical trials of interventions such as bionic eyes, gene therapy and new drugs. The project is being completed in conjunction with the Centre for Eye Research Australia.

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Current collaborations within this program include A/Prof Penny Allen (CERA, bionic eyes), Dr Thomas Edwards (CERA, gene therapy) and Dr Jasleen Jolly (Oxford University, patient outcome measures).


  • CASS Foundation

Research Group

Vision Optimisation Unit

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Mental Health, Practice and service improvement, Recovery and Rehabilitation Across the Lifespan

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Optometry and Vision Sciences

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