Research gives Gloria hope

She died from heart disease when she was a young woman. I remember as if it was yesterday.

My name is Gloria Perkins. I first met Professor Lawrie Hirst at the Princess Alexandra Hospital when he was the Lions Professor of Ophthalmology. At the time, my condition was described as Ocular Hypertension, which developed into Glaucoma.

I had been a long time patient of Professor Hirst when his dream of the Queensland Eye Institute became a reality. Prof Hirst asked me if I would be interested in working as the Community Relations Officer for the Institute. My husband had not long passed and I viewed the new opportunity as a blessing as it allowed me to be able to do something I felt would not only assist me but would also help future generations.

This role provided me with the privilege to meet many of you, who are equally as passionate about eye health as I am. I have enjoyed getting to know so many of you over the years and I miss my visits and conversations since retiring.

“As I am getting older I realise even more now, the vital importance of vision research.”

I learnt at a young age the importance of research. Like you, I don’t want to be told “there is nothing we can do” such as when my mother was diagnosed with her heart condition. Heart disease is no longer a fatal condition due to the considerable advancement in research and treatment. This could have saved my dearly loved mother’s life.

Eye disease is the new threat to our community, affecting as many people as heart disease and is often a forgotten area for funding and support.

My glaucoma has reached the stage where I have to prove that my sight and health remains good enough to drive.

One of the scariest things for me over the last fortnight is that my driver’s licence was up for renewal and for the first time in my life it was not just a case of a new photo, pay the money, and receive a licence for 5 years. I literally fell apart with the dark thoughts of not being able to drive and I know so many of you feel exactly the same way. For me, my drivers’ licence is the last bastion of independence, and, although it was renewed, there will come a time when this won’t happen and it feels almost like the end of the world.

Professor Ravi Thomas, one of the ophthalmologists at the Queensland Eye Institute, sits on the board of the World Glaucoma Association.

Professor Thomas has treated me for many years. Although I use medication to control the pressure in my eye, I am so thankful that his care, and today’s treatment is keeping me seeing well. Without this, I don’t know what I would do.

I am aware of the on-going progress in the treatment of glaucoma, which is making incredible headway at the Queensland Eye Institute. I also care passionately about all other eye diseases.

“I have children and grandchildren and I want them to enjoy wonderful vision for life.”

Vision researchers’ innovations are key to developing new processes and technologies. Did you see on the news the elderly gentleman who was fitted with a Bionic Eye? He had very little sight left because of advanced Age-related Macular Degeneration. This almost seems like science fiction but it is not because of the research that has been developing over many years as a result of funds raised to progress the concept.

You would be forgiven for thinking that, in the future, treatments and even cures, will be available to preserve eyesight for life, is nothing more than a pipe dream. That’s what people said about the bionic eye!

Research continues at the Queensland Eye Institute for glaucoma, macular degeneration and gene therapy research partly made possible from people like you and me.


Since living in retirement, I realise the value of a dollar and I found what works for me now is “Sightfund” – the Queensland Eye Institutes monthly giving program. Sightfund allows me to donate an amount decided by me, which is debited on my credit card. I don’t feel any pain from giving this way and my monthly donation grows to become a larger one over time.

I truly believe we must all work together to make sure that the funds exist so that these brilliant young scientists can continue their work in the important field of vision research and contribute effectively to the treatment of eye diseases and the prevention of blindness.

Please give what you can today. I can assure you it will be used in an unimaginable way for the benefit of future patients and their families.

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