Global Scan of Research into Macular Disease

05 January 16

written by:

Carol Bewick

(more articles)

Impact of AMD Research Prioritisation Starting to Show

In 2013 the UK vision sector got together to find out what those of you affected by eye disease viewed as the top priorities for eye research. Fight for Sight, the UK’s eye research charity has been working hard to track how closely these patient, relative and carer priorities match the research which is being funded to keep them at the top of the funding agenda.

As the main UK funder of research into all eye conditions, Fight for Sight has ensured that all applications for research we fund are matched against the Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) priorities. In October 2015 we co-arranged a summit with Vision 2020 UK to bring together the original partners from the PSP and public, private and charitable UK funders of eye research.

One of the updates at this event was given by Professor Norman Waugh from Warwick University who had been commissioned by the Macular Society to conduct a global scan of research into macular disease between 2011 and 2014 and match it against the PSP priorities.

Previewing his findings in BioMed Central Research Notes, Professor Waugh and co-author Dr Pamela Royle have shown that the importance of the priorities is becoming more apparent with funders. What is of particular interest is the impact of UK research. A comparatively small number of UK articles published about macular disease research receive a disproportionately large number of citations. This shows that despite limited funding for eye research in general and, in this case, macular disease in particular, the research which is being funded is highly respected and is having far-reaching impact. While the UK is responsible for only 9.7% of macular disease research worldwide this work receives 14.2% of global citations in the research publications of others.

It is encouraging to see that by the end of 2014 there were already 421 individual pieces of research being funded which matched the PSP priorities. By far the highest proportion of this research at over 22% addressed the question ‘what is the cause of AMD’. This can largely be seen as resulting from the clear progress in genetic research into the macular conditions in recent years.

Fight for Sight Director of External Affairs Carol Bewick said; ‘The work funded by the Macular Society and conducted by Professor Waugh has shown us not only how much work needs to be done by the sector to ensure patient priorities remain at the top of the agenda but also how much impact UK research has. We will continue to fight for the UK to put more funds towards eye research. Knowing what we fund affects the research agenda worldwide gives us confidence that the UK will be a key player in the breakthroughs in eye research in the coming years. We know that with a growing number of research projects aimed at meeting your priorities and we will see the beginning of the end of macular disease.’

Find out more about macular disease and the research funded by Fight for Sight.