Why is eye research so important?

20 November 17

written by:

Yewande Omoniyi

(more articles)

We spoke to a number of Fight for Sight funded researchers, to get their expert views on eye research and their advice for future funding applicants.

Professor Colin Willoughby


How has funding from Fight for Sight helped your ophthalmology research and career?

Without Fight for Sight I would not have been able to develop a career as a clinical academic. Fight for Sight funding has been vital to my career path and continued research activity. I secured a Fight for Sight PhD studentship in 2009, which was a major step in my career. My PhD student is still working in eye related research, as a postdoctoral fellow.

What advice would you offer future applicants?

Develop a clear application which is clinically relevant and ensure you have some preliminary data and strong co-applicants/collaborators.

Why do you think ophthalmic research is important?

Our population is ageing and visual loss has a significant socioeconomic impact and is a fear of many people. Even in childhood rare inherited diseases (which are often neglected), have significant impacts on the child and extended family.


Dr Suzanne Hagan

How has funding from Fight for Sight helped your ophthalmology research and career?

The funding from Fight for Sight helped my career by providing funds to enable me to investigate tear fluid protein changes in dry eye patients with my PhD student. This allowed me to present novel data at The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and similar conferences which raised my profile in the field of dry eye.

What advice would you offer future applicants?

I would advise future applicants to consider a novel slant on their particular area of interest and to think how they can use a grant to forge national and international collaborations.

Why do you think ophthalmic research is important?

Having done my PhD in cell biology of retinal disease and now doing research on the ocular surface, I think ophthalmic research is crucial to overall health, wellbeing and quality of life. As global populations are ageing better, it is imperative that we discover new ways to improve sight and diagnose diseases sooner, to enable people to maintain their vision for as long as possible.

Professor Julie Daniels


How has funding from Fight for Sight helped your ophthalmology research and career?

Fight for Sight has supported a post-doctoral researcher and two PhD students in my group. Their work has led to progress towards the development of new therapies for disease affecting the cornea and conjunctiva. This research would not have been possible without Fight for Sight’s support.

What advice would you offer future applicants?

Really think about how your research could in the future help patients, even if it is currently really early stage fundamental science. I find this will help to keep focus and purpose, especially when things are not quite going according to plan!

Why do you think ophthalmic research is important?

Loss of vision is a significant health concern for most people, especially as we age and become more vulnerable in different ways. Research brings hope and eventually the reality of delaying or even preventing blindness.


Professor Marcela Votruba

How has funding from Fight for Sight helped your ophthalmology research and career?

The Small Grant has helped me with a specific project on inherited optic neuropathy genes and whole exome sequencing of patient DNA. In order to establish genetic diagnosis and find new genes.

What advice would you offer future applicants?

New ideas are welcome!

Why do you think ophthalmic research is important?

We still have many diseases without any treatment or cures and this must change.


Professor John Dart


How has funding from Fight for Sight helped your ophthalmology research and career?

Funding from Fight for Sight has been critical to the development of my research. I have been fortunate enough to receive funding for PhD studentships and the Small Grant awards. The PhD studentships have provided good training opportunities for students. Two of the three I have been awarded are completed and both have resulted in good or outstanding peer reviewed publications that have had a substantial impact in their field.

What advice would you offer future applicants?

Novel approaches are favoured. Meeting these requirements demands addressing important questions with clear hypothesis-driven research, using the most appropriate methodology, collaborating with the best people in the research field (which often means looking outside the applicants institution) to achieve the highest quality results. It is important for less experienced applicants to obtain help from more experienced researchers when putting together a proposal.

Why do you think ophthalmic research is important?

Sight is one of our most valued senses. Vision research has made enormous strides in delivering new therapies in my career. Despite this, it is an area where the translational scientific research needed to underpin the development of new medical therapies, as opposed to the development of surgical techniques, has been poorly served by research funding organisations.