Leading ophthalmologists have called on the new government to develop a national plan to fight blindness and address the critical lack of funding. They put their case in an open letter sent to the national media – read the letter below:
“As leading ophthalmologists and researchers we are joining the eye research charity Fight for Sight to call for urgent action on blindness in 2020 to address the research funding gap.
We know that serious sight loss doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone at any time and it is on the increase. Science can already do so much and with the advent of new gene therapies and stem cell treatments we are so close to outcomes that were not possible a decade ago. Yet so much more needs to be done to develop new universal treatments.
The main barrier is the lack of research funding. It is unacceptable that in 2020 only 1% of UK grant funding goes to eye research, even though more than 20% of people will be affected by serious sight loss in their lifetime. Blindness can have a huge impact on people’s mental health and ability to work, increasing costs on health systems and infrastructure.
In 2019 the WHO and UN general assembly both outlined that globally more investment is needed into sight loss and research. We are calling for the new government and its partners to agree a national plan on sight loss and a research agenda that will help to ensure that eye research gets the funding it badly needs. Please join us at fightforsight.org.uk and let 2020 be the year that we accelerate progress in beating blindness.
Prof Chris Hammond Frost chair of ophthalmology, King’s College London, Prof Alan Stitt Dean of innovation and impact, Queen’s University Belfast, Prof Alastair Denniston Consultant ophthalmologist, Birmingham University, Prof Alison Hardcastle Professor of molecular genetics, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Prof Lynda Erskine Chair in developmental neurobiology, Aberdeen University, Prof Jeremy Guggenheim Director of research, Cardiff University, Prof David Steel Consultant ophthalmologist, Newcastle University, Prof Chris Inglehearn Professor of molecular ophthalmology and neuroscience, Leeds University, Prof Timothy Jackson Consultant ophthalmic surgeon, King’s College London, Prof Rachael Pearson Professor of developmental neuroscience, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Prof Jessica Teeling Professor of Experimental Neuroimmunology, University of Southampton, Prof Colin Willoughby Professor of ophthalmology, Ulster University