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Give the gift of vision research

For Leon, a corneal transplant was life-changing, allowing him the joy of seeing his grandchildren clearly. Help us make new discoveries that will give more people the precious gift of sight.

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“Australians are very generous people. We know millions will go blind without a corneal transplant. Please give to assist CERA’s outstanding researchers – this is Australia’s gift to the world.”

– Professor Leon Mann AO, CERA supporter

Leon is a distinguished psychologist, father of two daughters, grandfather of six and now a great grandfather.

About 15 years ago Leon’s eyesight began to deteriorate and he was advised to have an operation to remove a cataract from his left eye.

Leon was hopeful this would improve his vision and optimistic he could finally throw away his glasses. However, this was not the case. In fact, it was the opposite.

Over the next few years Leon’s vision continued to deteriorate, in particular, the vision in his left eye.

Leon experienced inflammation and swelling, which caused blurred vision and meant he couldn’t identify faces clearly. To read, he needed to use a magnifying glass, in addition to his thick prescription lenses. Driving at night also became an issue. His overall quality of life was severely compromised.

A visit to an eye specialist found the cause of Leon’s deteriorating eye sight was in fact an underlying condition called Fuchs’ (pronounced ‘fooks’) corneal dystrophy, a condition that results in clouding of the cornea.

The cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye. It allows light to enter and does most of the focusing for the eye. The cornea must be clear to allow light to pass into the eye.

Normally, the cells lining the inside of the cornea (endothelial cells) help maintain a healthy balance of fluids within the cornea and prevent the cornea from swelling.

But with Fuchs’ dystrophy the endothelial cells gradually die, resulting in fluid build-up (oedema) within the cornea, causing corneal thickening and blurred vision.

A life-changing transplant

Leon was advised that his vision would only be improved by having a corneal transplant.

Leon underwent the surgery in December last year. The diseased layer of Leon’s cornea was removed and replaced by the corresponding layers of a donor cornea.

Within just a few weeks, Leon’s vision improved greatly, he was given new glasses with thinner lenses and no longer needed a magnifying glass to read. More importantly he could see his grandchildren’s faces clearly, they were no longer a blur!

Leon says he’s eternally grateful to his eye surgeons, and the donors and donor families, managed through the Lions Eye Donation Service at CERA.

Leon knows he’s lucky to live in Australia with access to world class researchers. Corneal blindness is the third most common cause of blindness impacting all age groups worldwide. However, a global shortage of corneas for transplant has resulted in more than 10 million people waiting for a donor cornea.

We need your help to make more sight-saving discoveries possible.

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CERA researcher Dr Karl Brown and Associate Professor Mark Daniell in the Corneal Research Unit are working tirelessly to solve this global issue for those suffering from corneal endothelial diseases. Together they are developing a tissue-engineered corneal endothelial transplant.

A tissue-engineered corneal endothelium would allow the use of the patient’s own cells, grown in the laboratory, to repair the cornea instead of relying on donor tissue, eliminating the possibility of tissue rejection. Currently, corneal transplantation requires a donor tissue which can be lost to rejection.

Moreover, cultured cells could be used to treat patients for whom there is no treatment because they live in nations with donor tissue shortages.

Your support will enable us to significantly advance this new treatment from the research laboratory to developmental trials and finally to application in the eye clinic.

Give the gift of vision research this festive season

Please show your generosity this festive season to further the work of our researchers, Dr Karl Brown and Associate Professor Mark Daniell, so more people in Australia and across the globe can have their full vision restored.

Leon told us, “One of my daughters also has Fuchs’ dystrophy and is hopeful that if and when her time for a corneal transplant comes, she will have a corneal graft grown in the laboratory from her own cells.”

Leon’s hope is that your donation will support the outstanding work of the Corneal Research Unit at CERA.


Your donation will support vital vision research. Thank you for your generosity this festive season.

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