Study maps UK eye care research priorities

Researchers have identified glaucoma, AMD and cataract as key areas that research studies should focus on

A scientist using a microscope

The prevention of sight-threatening conditions such as glaucoma, cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as improved integration between primary and secondary care, have been identified in a study as priorities for UK eye care research for the next five years.

Published in the journal Eye, the study surveyed 2240 healthcare professionals, patients, carers, researchers and charity support workers to map out the research priorities for ophthalmology in the UK.

Performed by the UK Clinical Eye Research Strategy (CERS) and led by Professor Rupert Bourne from Cambridge University Hospital and Anglia Ruskin University, the study aimed to provide an update to the James Lind Alliance Sight and Vision Loss Priority Setting Partnership's research priorities for ophthalmology, which was performed in 2013.

Researchers highlighted that despite active research within ophthalmology, there are still unanswered questions about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of eye conditions and sight loss, half which is presumed avoidable.

Summarising areas of eye care that researchers should prioritise in order to advance the treatment and prevention of sight loss in the UK, the list included: a focus on prevention strategies for cataract; improved treatment modalities for glaucoma; early detection initiatives for childhood eye care diseases; innovative strategies for dry AMD; advancements in microbial keratitis treatments; the development and progression of research for refractive error; and enhanced integration of ophthalmic primary and secondary care.

Lead author and professor of ophthalmology, Bourne, said: “The results of this survey provide a crucial refresh of the most important research questions, a decade after the initial Priority Setting Partnership. 

“This study sets the stage for focused research endeavours within ophthalmology, a specialty that faces substantial challenges, but which remains vastly underfunded given the profound burden of eye diseases.”