A condition called pterygium – also known as “surfer’s eye” – is now in the sights of USC’s Clinical Trials Centre, which has joined an international trial of a non-surgical treatment for the ailment.
The centre will work with Associate Professor Leo Hartley of H2 Vision Centres at Chancellor Park to assess an investigational medicine that aims to reduce the eye redness associated with the condition.
Associate Professor Hartley said people with pterygium experienced thin growths of clear tissue with redness, due to small blood vessels that start at the corner of the eye and grow towards the centre of the cornea. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
This potential new treatment aims to reduce the growth of these small blood vessels.
“As part of the clinical trial, patients will be randomly selected to receive an eye drop containing either the new drug, or a lubricant similar to artificial tears. Both treatments will be given three times a day for 28 days,” he said.
“This potential new treatment may turn out to be a game-changer in the management of pterygium, for which the only current treatment is surgery. We are looking forward to seeing the results.”
USC Clinical Trials Centre Director Lucas Litewka said the Sunshine Coast was well suited to this trial, due to its beautiful sunny beaches and outdoor lifestyle.
“While the Sunshine Coast is all about sun, sand and surf, too much exposure to these things without adequate eye protection can be damaging to your eyes,” he said.
Mr Litewka said the condition was not restricted to surfers, and could affect anyone who experienced plenty of UV exposure, especially in dusty areas.
People interested in participating can go to usc.edu.au/trials or call (07) 5456 3797. This study has been approved by Bellberry Human Research Ethics Committee.