Report showcases successes in eye research

20 November 18

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Press Office

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A paper published this week from the National Institute of Health Research highlights that Fight for Sight was responsible for funding 15–30% of non-commercial eye research studies in the UK in each of the years examined.

‘Ophthalmology research in the UK’s National Health Service: the structure and performance of the NIHR’s Ophthalmology research portfolio’ was published in Eye, the official journal of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, published by Springer Nature. It emphasises the contribution of Fight for Sight as the largest funder with £3.6 million of the total of £9.6 million spent by sight loss charities on UK medical research on eye conditions in 2014.

It also highlights that both non-commercial and commercial investment in eye research, means that an average of 15,500 patients per year are now being offered innovative treatments for the common but life-changing diseases of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Despite sight loss costing the UK economy upwards of £28 billion per year, eye health research is not a research priority in terms of investment despite demonstrable success by the ophthalmic research community. Eye disease research only receives 1% of the research grant spend in the UK but still delivers a growth in the number of eye and vision loss studies in the NHS’s research portfolio.

The NIHR report highlights the need for a long-term strategy of investment and advocacy for eye research involving the entire government and non-governmental sectors

Dr Neil Ebenezer, Director of Research, Policy and Innovation at Fight for Sight, said: “This report highlights the fantastic work going on across the eye research sector in the UK. Fight for Sight was the largest funder of eye research in 2014 amongst the sight loss charities but more investment is still needed. Eye research is significantly underfunded in comparison to other long-term conditions and further investment is needed to improve our understanding, develop new treatments and allow patients access to clinical trials of innovative therapies."

Professor Rupert Bourne, chair of the Ophthalmology Specialty Group and lead on the report, said. ‘Over the last eight years, the breadth of participation by many hospitals and the consultants, optometrists and orthoptists working in them and in primary care, is something to be really proud of. Many of these studies are international in scope and this report showcases the collaborative nature of eye research in the NHS’.

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