Eye research charity Fight for Sight has awarded four new PhD studentship projects that focus on glaucoma, the second largest cause of blindness globally.
Scheduled to begin in October this year, the projects will explore the creation of a patient-friendly tests that measure glaucoma and the genetics of a form of glaucoma that affects younger men, as well as how to improve the eye’s drainage system to avoid high intraocular pressure.
The team at Kings College London, which will be led by Professor Chris Hammond, will investigate pigmentary glaucoma – a rare form which sees the optic nerve damaged by high pressure in the eye as a result of scattered pigment from the iris.
The researchers will be looking for any genetic variations in people’s DNA that are linked to pigmentary glaucoma, as well as investigating whether there are any genetic links to other common eye conditions. While there are no symptoms in the early stages of pigmentary glaucoma, and the disease is therefore often diagnosed after permanent damage has been done, researchers believe that the results from the project could lead to earlier diagnosis before sight loss occurs.
The projects are four of an overall eight that Fight for Sight has awarded under its annual PhD studentship programme. Combined, they present a £400,000 investment by the charity.
The programme is designed to allow Fight for Sight to provide funds “for some of the best young science graduates in the UK to develop their skills with supervision from leading academic eye researchers.”
Speaking about the grants, Fight for Sight’s director of research, Dr Dolores M Conroy, said: “Once again we have a really interesting crop of both fundamental and innovative research projects in which the students will develop their skills and understanding in the fight against sight loss and become the future leaders in vision research.”
She added: “Each year Fight for Sight PhD students drive eye research forward. I look forward with confidence to seeing what impact our class of 2019 will have in the field of vision research.