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PolyU Co-Launches New Hi-Tech Centre for Eye and Vision Research

Image Credits: PolyU, Press Release

At the forefront of the population’s health and ageing imperative and with its mission of generating innovative technologies and unique solutions designed to prevent vision loss and preserve healthy vision, the Centre for Eye and Vision Research (CEVR) announced its official launch on 9 June 2022.

This is the first global hub to conduct ground-breaking research in five key areas – myopia and eye growth, ocular drug discovery and delivery, vision enhancement, tear film and ocular surface, and advanced optometric technology.

Supported by InnoHK, the flagship innovation and technology initiative of the HKSAR Government, CEVR is committed to becoming a global leader in eye and vision research as well as a magnet for attracting and training elite researchers, harnessing Hong Kong’s research expertise and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

With the collaboration between The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and the University of Waterloo (UW) in Canada, CEVR represents a significant step in enhancing the research capacities and innovation applications aimed at addressing eye and vision health challenges, by bringing together multiple scientific disciplines based on the excellent credentials of two leading academic institutions in vision science and eye health research.

Within the five key research areas, CEVR is currently conducting 25 high-potential research projects to address urgent needs and challenges in eye and vision health.

  1. Myopia and Eye Growth: This research primarily focuses on an increasingly global issue, which is particularly noticeable in Asian populations. The greater the prevalence and the magnitude of myopia, the higher the risk of vision loss. Despite recent progress, prevention levels are still not acceptable and the cause of myopia is as yet unknown. The research will focus on determining effective methods to slow, prevent or reverse myopia progression and preserve eye health while reducing myopia-induced pathologies. These studies require a multi-disciplinary, multi-faceted approach and involve refraction, ocular biometry, ocular imaging, aberrometry, molecular biology, histology and pharmacology as well as electroretinography.
  2. Ocular Drug Discovery and Delivery: Research in this area is responsive to a key unmet need in eye health, which requires omitting the ocular barriers of drug delivery to the vitreous humour or retina at the back of the eye. Delivery of drugs to the eye remains a significant challenge for drug formulation scientists. Although topical eye drops are the most convenient type of formulation for delivery to the eye, they are generally restricted to use for the front of the eye and are poorly suited for delivery to the back of the eye. Therefore, the programme aims to design, formulate and characterise novel drug delivery formulations that are capable of targeting not only the anterior segment of the eye and diseases such as glaucoma but also the posterior segment of the eye, for the treatment of diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
  3. Vision Enhancement: Research into vision enhancement gives particular attention to the preservation and enhancement of vision, which is crucial in addressing the increased risk for a wide range of vision problems among elderly people. These include presbyopia, which affects most people over the age of 55 in focusing on near objects and is the most common visual disorder treated by optometrists. This research aims to develop new technologies that will preserve and enhance vision for elderly people as well as for individuals with amblyopia, occurring when the vision develops abnormally.
  4. Tear Film & Ocular Surface: This research is committed to tackling dry eye disease (DED), which is increasing in prevalence worldwide, especially in Asian patients who have a 2-3x higher incidence. As one of the most frequent causes of patient visits to eye care practitioners and one that often requires long-term management, DED causes pain that limits day-to-day activities, leading to poor general health, reduced quality of life and often depression. It is still unknown why the incidence of DED is higher in Asians. This research aims to characterise the biochemistry of ocular surface samples in Asians, to identify novel markers that can be used to diagnose, and potentially predict and treat DED.
  5. Advanced Optometric Technology: This research and its associated technology aim to develop a dedicated process to gain a deeper understanding of optometry and vision science, a field of professional practice and cutting-edge research that encompasses the health of the whole visual system. Research in advanced optometric technology is crucial for the maintenance of healthy vision in an ageing population. The research programme aims to develop, validate and commercialise novel techniques for assessing eye and vision health in older adults.
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