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Help CERA find cures for vision loss this Christmas

Jennifer Cooke, uveitis patient at CERA

Jennifer Cooke, uveitis patient at CERA

About twelve years ago, Jennifer Cooke started having trouble with her eyesight. “I found it hard to focus clearly through my right eye, I felt like I was looking through a shower curtain. I visited my local optometrist who prescribed glasses for me.”

Jennifer persisted with her new glasses but became progressively more fearful as she felt her vision was not quite right. “I began to lose my confidence going out, particularly in the evening as driving at night was almost impossible. I couldn’t see steps and started falling over.”

Jennifer made an appointment with an eye specialist who diagnosed the cause of her vision loss – a very rare condition called uveitis, which means inflammation in the middle layer of the eyeball (uvea).

Uveitis can damage vital eye tissue, leading to permanent vision loss.

Jennifer’s specialist mentioned a research trial being undertaken at CERA’s Clinical Trials Research Centre, the Multicentre Uveitis Steroid Treatment (MUST) Trial.

“From the moment I walked into the Clinical Trials Research Centre at CERA, I felt an overwhelming sense of hope and relief,” said Jennifer.

“The team was so welcoming, and I could tell that they genuinely cared for my vision. I actually began to look forward to my visits.”

In this first trial, Jennifer was ‘randomised’, or allocated, to standard oral steroid treatment, but due to these steroids, she developed severe side effects: a racing heart, weight gain and loss of concentration.

One of the research team members suggested that Jennifer might be suitable for a new trial, led by Associate Professor Lyndell Lim, for a drug called Adalimumab (trade name Humira). This new trial involved a fortnightly self-injection and, more importantly, no steroids!

Humira had an immediate impact. Jennifer’s vision improved to the best it had been for a very long time.

“I feel so lucky to have met amazing people at CERA’s Clinical Trials Research Centre who from the moment I walked in said the words I was longing to hear: Come with me, I can help you, I can care for you,” said Jennifer.

Associate Professor Lyndell Lim is not only a brilliant clinician, she is passionate about helping others and dedicating her knowledge to this rare eye condition.
At present, there is no known cure for autoimmune uveitis, only treatments that dampen down the inflammation in the eyeball and reduce the risk of vision loss, often with significant side effects.

The challenge is to find a cure – a treatment that will safely stop the immune system fighting the eye completely and immediately.

“I feel blessed to have been part of CERA’s trial and I will be eternally grateful to Associate Professor Lyndell Lim and her team at CERA,” said Jennifer.

To support people like Jennifer this Christmas, please donate to CERA’s 2018 Christmas Appeal. Money raised will go to support research in CERA’s Clinical Trials Research Centre, led by Associate Professor Lyndell Lim.


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