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Lions Ride for Sight a roaring success for eye research

Jac Bongers (District Governor) with Dr Eva Fenwick

Jac Bongers (District Governor) with Dr Eva Fenwick

Fifty cyclists. Four days. 373 kilometres.

The result? $50,000 for sight saving research projects underway at the Centre for Eye Research Australia.

“This year’s wonderful gift from Lions Ride for Sight will fund two trials: one to help people at risk of losing their sight to diabetic retinopathy, and one to help vision impaired people who have early symptoms of depression,” said Dr Gwyn Rees, Principal Investigator of the Behavioural Research in Ophthalmology Unit.

“Diabetic eye disease is one of the most serious and devastating complications of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness in Australian adults. Our ‘Personalised Eye Consultation’ trial helps individuals with early stage diabetic retinopathy who are struggling with managing their blood glucose levels,” explained Dr Rees.

“The progression of diabetic retinopathy is linked to blood glucose control, so we work closely with people to discuss and plan how they can realistically manage their diabetes better.”

In addition, the funds will support an Australian-first project to improve the mental health in people with low vision.

“People with vision loss are around three times more likely to have depression than normally sighted people in the general community,” stated Dr Rees.

“This significant funding from the Lions will assist us to trial a cognitive-behavioural treatment approach to address these issues in people with vision loss who are experiencing depressive symptoms, and to further explore what distinguishes those individuals who are coping well with vision loss.”

This knowledge will lead to more effective treatments for depression in people with low vision, and determine how to best assist people early on to prevent emotional problems developing.

Professor Jonathan Crowston, Managing Director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia said: “Every year the Lions Ride for Sight raises significant funds and awareness for eye research. This year was exceptional and we are thankful to everyone involved in the ride for making a big difference in the lives of people affected by eye disease and blindness.”

The 2015 Lions Ride for Sight set off from Licola, passing through Sale, Yarram, Rosedale and finished at Moe, showcasing some of Gippsland’s varied terrain.

Experienced and recreational cyclists are encouraged to ride in 2016. Please contact Philanthropy Coordinator Bethan Hazell on 03 9929 8424 or bethan.hazell@unimelb.edu.au for more information or to register your interest.