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Funding boost for Bionic Eye research

image-toolsCERA welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement of a much-needed funding extension for Bionic Eye research.

In Australia, over 50,000 people suffer from profound vision impairment, which can have a significant impact on independence and quality of life. It also costs the Australian economy upwards of $2.5 billion annually.

The Bionic Eye being developed by Bionic Vision Australia offers hope for people with two of the most common causes of profound vision impairment; retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator the Honourable Kim Carr announced on Tuesday 9 July that the Australian Research Council (ARC) would continue to fund the research of the Monash Vision Group and Bionic Vision Australia, which includes CERA.

The announcement follows Australia’s first successful patient implants of Bionic Eye prototypes by CERA surgeon Dr Penny Allen and her team in 2012.

CERA researchers responsible for the clinical and surgical components of the project are delighted with the announcement. “This funding will enable us to build on the current patient tests, to help refine the prototypes and develop the next generation devices,” said Dr Lauren Ayton, Bionic Eye Clinical Project Coordinator.

The funding extension provides an additional $8 million in 2014 to Bionic Vision Australia and $1.9 million to Monash Vision Group to continue their research programs.

Bionic Vision Australia will seek further financial support from other sources beyond 2014, primarily through the National Health and Medical Research Council, philanthropic organisations and commercial investors. For now, researchers can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with the day to day business of research and development.

The Bionic Eye projects are funded through the ARC’s Special Research Initiative in Bionic Vision Science and Technology. The funding announcement extends the original grants awarded in 2010.