Five research breakthroughs in 2020

A selection of the eye research developments OT  covered in 2020


2020 was a year where the research community banded together with a single focus.

Individuals and organisations assessed how they could contribute to efforts to stem the spread of a global pandemic.

This unprecedented collective effort quite rightly took precedence. However, in the background scientists continued to work away on questions unique to their specific field.

Below is a selection of the research breakthroughs OT covered in 2020.

1) Using spectacles and multi-focal contact lenses to combat myopia

Progress in one of the fast-growing areas of optometry research continued despite the challenges of a pandemic in 2020.

MiSight published results in October confirming that one in four children experienced minimal myopia progression six years after being fitted with MiSight 1 day contact lenses.

In the same month, Essilor released interim results revealing that its Stellest myopia management spectacle lens slowed progression by 60%.

US research outlined how multifocal contact lenses slowed myopic progression by 43% over three years when compared to single vision lenses in August.

2) Scientists who developed CRISPR gene editing technology receive Nobel prize

Scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in October for their pioneering work on CRISPR gene editing technology.

The scientific work has a wide range of applications – including within the treatment of inherited eye conditions.

Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, highlighted: “There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all. It has not only revolutionised basic science, but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to ground-breaking new medical treatments.”

3) 900m predicted to be blind or sight impaired by 2050

The scale of projected sight impairment was highlighted by Anglia Ruskin scientists.

Their research suggests that blindness and severe vision impairment will more than double by 2050 – from 338 million to almost 900 million.

4) FDA approves dissolvable glaucoma implant

In July, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a medication-releasing implant for glaucoma patients.

Research has found that the Allergan device lowers IOP by 30% in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.

Scientists concluded that the implant has the potential to improve adherence and reduce treatment burden in glaucoma.

5) A ‘filling’ for the eye

Scientists from Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology are exploring the potential of a synthetic gel as an alternative to corneal transplantation.

The researchers described the method as similar to a dental filling.

Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology consultant ophthalmic surgeon, Bruce Allan, said: “We are looking forward to this work progressing to clinical trials and believe that it has the potential to transform corneal care in the future.”

COVID-19 vaccination roll-out

In a culmination of the work of scientists and researchers throughout 2020, this month we're witnessing the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination across the UK. With optometrists and patient-facing practice staff amongst those identified as a priority group to receive the vaccine, we want to find out more from you, our readers, through the OT poll below.

Have you had a COVID-19 vaccine yet?
  • Yes (Scotland)

    19 8%
  • Yes (England)

    99 43%
  • Yes (Wales)

    14 6%
  • No (England)

    55 24%
  • Yes (Northern Ireland)

    6 2%
  • No (Scotland)

    0 0%
  • No, but I have a date to be vaccinated (England)

    27 11%
  • No, but I have a date to be vaccinated (Wales)

    2 0%
  • No (Wales)

    1 0%
  • No, but I have a date to be vaccinated (Northern Ireland)

    0 0%
  • No (Northern Ireland)

    1 0%
  • No, but I have a date to be vaccinated (Scotland)

    2 0%