The arrival of Victoria's supercomputer at the University of Melbourne marks a significant time for hundreds of thousands of Australian with glaucoma as they get to access a much more accurate data about their worsening sight.

According to Premier John Brumby, the supercomputer is part of the $100 million Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) that will assist future breakthroughs in the understanding of glaucoma and using them to create a better treatment option.

Scientists at the University of Melbourne who have led the  VLSCI will be using the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer. Among the first users of the computer include Andrew Turpin, associate professor from the University's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Prof Turpin said the wide-scale processing ability of the supercomputer will help his research in focusing into vision testing improvement.

Prof Turpin said, Current clinical tests of the visual field are highly variable, and it can take several years to reliably determine if vision is deteriorating due to glaucoma.

Our novel combination of data from both images of the optic nerve, and our new visual field testing strategies, will hopefully markedly reduce this time.

The advantage of this knowledge and improved vision testing will have a beneficial influence on the hundreds of thousands of Australian with, or at risk for developing glaucoma, said Dr Allison McKendrick from the University's Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences.

In older Australians, glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible loss of vision, said Dr McKendrick and that a clinician's ability to treat the disease depends on the improvement of detection accurace and vision loss monitoring.