Sarah Hosking

veski innovation fellow

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Dr Sarah Hosking was awarded a veski innovation fellowship on 16 July 2008.

Dr Hosking relocated from the United Kingdom where she held the positions of Professor of Optometry at Aston University in Birmingham and City University, London. She received funding for a joint research activity based at the Centre for Eye Research Australia [CERA], collaborating with Professor Jonathan Crowston, Head of the Glaucoma Unit and Professor Graeme Jackson at the Brain Research Institute at the Austin Hospital.

In addition to her current role as CEO of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Sarah is currently non executive board director of the Australian Communities Foundation

Research project: Anatomy and function of the visual cortex in human glaucoma

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and results from a number of interacting factors such as increased eye pressure, compromised vascular health, genetic and other factors.

In the USA alone the healthcare costs attributed to the disease amount to US$4bn each year. In Australia there are around 200,000 confirmed glaucoma sufferers, with a further 50% undiagnosed. The direct costs of care are AU$850m per year, with a further $1bn to support quality of life.

Currently, the diagnostic process involves measurements of the eye’s own pressure, subjective measures of the visual field, evaluation of the appearance of the optic nerve as seen by observation of the internal eye structures, and consideration of a number of other factors such as patient age, vascular health, family history of disease, race and so on.

Particular difficulties in predicting the onset or progression of glaucoma arise since the clinical indicators of intraocular pressure and anatomical structure overlap substantially from healthy to glaucomatous eyes, and the subjective assessment of visual field loss is somewhat variable and insensitive to early damage or change.

In this research, anatomical investigations using diagnostic imaging methods will be used to establish the anatomical changes in the brain following the onset of glaucoma and the impact of treatment. The findings of these studies are of importance in tailoring treatments to the needs of individual patients and ultimately, to benefit patients by the preservation of sight, and the community by reducing the financial burden of glaucoma management.