Vision UK Research Cures and Treatments Panel Statement on the funding of Clinical Eye Research

30 January 2020
Source: Vision UK

Almost two million people are living with significant sight loss in the UK and this figure is predicted to double to four million by 2050. However over 50% of this sight less could be avoided.

This would not only have a huge impact – both financially and emotionally – on the lives of millions but save millions of pounds in direct and indirect health care costs .
Stopping people losing their sight unnecessarily is a key priority for Vision UK and our Research Cures and Treatments panel.

There is a need to provide a unified position on prevention, treatment and curing eye health conditions.

We believe that eye research has been woefully underfunded for many years. Despite the projected 2-fold increase of people with sight loss by 2050. Total expenditure on medical research by Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) members was £1.6 billion in England in 2015/16, while expenditure on eye research totalled £6 million (not including Wellcome Trust data), representing less than half of one percent of total medical research expenditure by UK charities.
Only through more research can new and improved treatments be found to help stop preventable sight loss. We should be looking to equal the funding that has been spent on other long-term conditions such as cancer, dementia or stroke, we find the difference is unacceptable.

For too long it has been a neglected disease and as a whole sector, we need to change that. The opportunities are too great not to invest in.

 

Notes

    1.  The IAPB Vision Atlas gives the following estimated number of people with distance vision loss in the UK in 2015:
      Vision loss Blind Moderate and severe visual impairment
      Number of people – all ages 126,346 1,567,777
      Number of people aged ≥50 years 120,735 1,440,966
      The categories above are defined by reference to visual acuity in the better eye as follows:
      Category Blind Moderate and severe visual impairment
      Visual acuity <3/60 <6/18 to ≥3/60
      2.  https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12913-018-2836-0
      3.  https://www.eyenews.uk.com/features/ophthalmology/post/eye-research-where-next

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