Eye sector comes together to set collaborative research priorities

The Australian eye health and vision care sector has a vibrant research community, with a number of organisations and individuals involved in a wide variety of work, often at the forefront of international science.

In an effort to increase investment in eye research and raise the profile of the sector’s work, Vision 2020 Australia brought together interested organisations to explore and collectively identify cross-sector priorities for eye health research and investment at The National Eye Health Research Collaborative Online Forum on Wednesday 28 May.

A multidisciplinary collaboration of organisations with an interest in eye health and vision research, the forum was attended by 55 researchers and other sector members working across different ophthalmic fields.

Prof. Peter McCluskey from Save Sight Institute, Prof. Bill Morgan from the Lions Eye Institute and Prof. Lisa Keay from the University of NSW spoke enthusiastically about the strategic advantages of cross-sector research collaboration and the importance of establishing agreed principles to guide future collaboration, while Prof. Keith Martin from CERA provided an international perspective, sharing learnings from the James Lind Alliance experience in the UK, and its impacts on eye research and funding.

As a past researcher, and a person with lived experience of blindness John Simpson from Blind Citizens Australia provided a critical prospective on the importance of inclusion and in research design – thoughts echoed by the University of Melbourne’s Prof Hugh Taylor, regarding the need for sensitivity when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Smaller workshops discussed and shared ideas for research priorities and focus areas, with the webinar set to result in a number of agreed steps-forward as the sector looks to engage more strategically with government and other research funding bodies.

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott said it was positive having so many experts together, with the potential benefits of further collaboration clear to see.

“The work being done across ophthalmic research by Vision 2020 Australia members is inspiring and the expertise in Australia is absolutely world-class.

“Bringing people together to discuss priorities for cross-sector collaboration is an important first step, and the potential opportunities this could open up for Australian eye health and vision researchers is enormous,” she said.

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