A first-of-its-kind ‘stem cell therapies’ survey has been developed to explore what optometrists know and think about such therapies. The survey has been created in collaboration by A/Prof Laura Downie and Prof Megan Munsie from the University of Melbourne, Prof Stephanie Watson and Dr Maria Cabrera-Aguas from the University of Sydney, Prof Nick Di Girolamo from UNSW, and Prof Michael O’Connor from the Western Sydney University.
A/Prof Laura Downie, Chief investigator commented, “Now is the time for optometrists to help us understand more about what is known of stem cell therapies in practice. We hope by gaining this understanding, we will be able to develop targeted resources for eye care practitioners.”
The survey is timely as the potential for stem cell medicine to treat intractable health conditions has attracted interest from patients and the community. Additionally, the Stem Cell Therapies Mission, to which Prof Munsie and Prof Watson are expert advisors, has received AU$150 million in funding to develop stem cell therapies. Yet it can be confusing to understand exactly what stem cell therapies involve and who they are available for, particularly when it comes to eye care.
As major providers of primary eye care within the community, optometrists are likely to have an important role in counselling patients who are contemplating, or may have already received, ocular stem cell therapies. However, little is known about optometrists’ awareness and knowledge of ocular stem cell therapies, as no study to date has considered these research questions. This research project will provide insight into optometrists’ current knowledge and practices relating to ocular stem cells and will be used to guide the development of targeted resources and training that support optometrists in providing appropriate advice to patients who are contemplating these therapies.
The survey has been designed to use a popular online application known as REDCap. Dr Maria Cabrera-Aguas, who has used REDCap said “It is really easy to use, has drop down and checkboxes options, and pop-up menus. The entire survey could be completed in a few minutes; about the same time as drinking a cup of coffee”.
Australian optometrists are encouraged to complete the survey, which is anonymous and online, and will take about seven minutes. This is a real opportunity to start engaging with the potential of stem cell medicine. Access and share the stem cell survey here
For further information, email A/Prof Laura Downie: email@example.com or Dr Maria Cabrera-Aguas: firstname.lastname@example.org