Corneal graft expert honoured for visionary work

Flinders University’s Professor Keryn Williams has been honoured as an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), which works to improve eye healthcare in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific. She received this honour at the organisation’s annual conference, which was held in Adelaide from November 17-21 on the occasion of the college’s 50th anniversary.

Professor Williams is in charge of the world’s largest repository of information about corneal transplants, which is having international impact in improving both the number and success rate of corneal transplantation.

The Australian Corneal Graft Registry was established at Flinders in 1985 to track success factors in corneal transplants, and has collected 30,000 records of corneal transplant operations from more than 750 ophthalmic surgeons across the whole of Australia over the past three decades.

The Registry now provides an invaluable repository of information about corneal grafts – helping to identify the key factors that underpin transplant success or failure.

“You can die at 90 years old and if your family is prepared to allow the Eye Bank to collect your corneas, they can be donated to someone much younger and enable them to regain their sight,” says Professor Williams.

Success rates for corneal grafts are carefully monitored, and the scale of the database provides an opportunity to tease out the key factors that determine whether a graft is likely to be successful. The insights obtained from data held by the registry have led to a number of other countries establishing registries based on the Flinders model, and Flinders data is frequently used in international comparative studies.

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