Treatment for a major cause of blindness

Donors to Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation have ensured that best-practice guidelines have been developed for Australia’s leading ophthalmic teaching hospital to provide excellence in eye care for a significant cohort of patients.

The case for funding

Herpes simplex keratitis is caused by recurrent infection of the cornea by the herpes simplex virus, or HSV-1. More than two thirds of the world’s population under 50 (around 3.7 billion people) have the herpes virus during their lifetime, but not everyone shows symptoms.

When herpes simplex infects the eye, it can be very difficult to get rid of, even with antibiotics and antiviral medication, because it gets right into the nerve and can cause scarring. It can easily progress to corneal perforation or blindness if left unchecked and affects all ages from babies through to the elderly.

Specialists at Sydney Eye Hospital see a lot of patients with herpes simplex keratitis so were well placed to assist researchers in developing best practice guidelines to diagnose and treat the condition.

Donor impact

Thanks to generous community support, Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation invested in research to directly improve outcomes for patients now and in the future.

Research was conducted by Dr Maria Cabrera-Aguas as part of her PhD, and was supervised by Professor Stephanie Watson, Corneal Ophthalmologist and Head of Corneal Unit at Sydney Eye Hospital.

More than 1,700 records and treatments for patients with this infection were reviewed along with guidelines used globally.

In consultation with specialists and the pharmacy at the Sydney Eye Hospital, the research team then developed best-practice guidelines that are constantly updated based on six monthly audits and reviews.

To make them easy to access for busy doctors, the guidelines are printed on small cards that fit into a doctor’s neck lanyard, along with posters in consultation rooms, plus an animated video.

“This project is a great partnership between research and clinical practice. It’s a PhD study looking at a clinical problem and using research tools we’ve created a real-world outcome for patients.” – Professor Stephanie Watson (pictured above), Corneal Ophthalmologist and Head of Corneal Unit at Sydney Eye Hospital.

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