In a world first, ophthalmology experts at Flinders University will conduct a trial for early intervention treatment, called selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), to prevent vision loss in individuals at high risk of glaucoma.
Chief investigator, Professor Jamie Craig, from the College of Medicine and Public Health, has been granted over $1.7 million to explore the use of SLT as a preventive measure against glaucoma-related vision loss.
The trial aims to evaluate the effectiveness of SLT in lowering intraocular pressure and preventing visual loss from glaucoma in high-risk individuals. Professor Craig emphasized the importance of early detection and treatment to reduce the disease burden for patients and the healthcare system.
“We have developed a tool that can identify individuals who are deemed at high risk of losing their vision from glaucoma, however there is still a major gap between identifying them and how they may be safely treated,” Craig said.
“This clinical trial will generate high-quality evidence to determine the effectiveness of a more timely delivery of laser for high-risk individuals. If effective, this will reduce visual issues and blindness from glaucoma which will improve their quality of life, allow them to continue working and driving, reduce their risk of falls and lead to cost savings for the health system,” he added.
The research project will involve a randomized controlled trial with 500 genetically at-risk glaucoma suspects who will receive early laser treatment. Participants will be monitored twice a year over a two-year period.
The insights gained from this trial will have immediate implications for monitoring and treating high-risk glaucoma patients, leading to potential improvements in their quality of life, ability to work and drive, reduced risk of falls, and cost savings for the health system.
The project includes collaboration with researchers from Flinders University, University of Tasmania, Maquarie University, The University of Adelaide, The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, The Council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, University of New South Wales, and The George Institute for Global Health.
Professor Craig has previously made significant discoveries on the genetic basis of glaucoma using an International Registry of vision loss cases, leading to the identification of multiple genes associated with glaucoma susceptibility.
This new project builds upon previous research on a glaucoma polygenic risk score (PRS) developed by Professor Craig, which effectively identifies individuals at high risk of vision loss from glaucoma, necessitating new monitoring and treatment strategies such as pre-emptive laser treatment.