Glaucoma research

  • IGA comments on use of AI for eye disease detection

    Karen Osborn, Chief Executive “These are exciting results and there is no doubt that AI will play a role in the detection and monitoring of glaucoma. The use of technology to reduce the stress on hospital services and help optometrists with referral will ensure that people are correctly prioritised and appropriate treatment is commenced”.

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    ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AS GOOD AS TOP EXPERTS AT DETECTING EYE DISEASES

    Ground-breaking research by Moorfields Eye Hospital, DeepMind Health and UCL uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help identify potentially blinding eye diseases.

    • AI system can recommend the correct referral decision for over 50 eye diseases with 94% accuracy – matching world-leading eye experts.
    • System could help doctors and other eye health professionals spot serious conditions earlier and prioritise patients who urgently need treatment.
    • An artificial intelligence (AI) system that can recommend the correct referral decision for over 50 eye diseases as accurately as world-leading experts has been developed by researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, DeepMind Health and University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology.The breakthrough research, published online by Nature Medicine, describes how machine learning technology has been successfully trained on thousands of historic de-personalised eye scans to identify features of eye disease and recommend how patients should be referred for care. It is hoped that the technology could one day transform the way professionals carry out eye tests, allowing them to spot conditions earlier and prioritise patients with the most serious eye diseases before irreversible damage sets in.More than 285 million people worldwide live with some form of sight loss, including more than two million people in the UK. Eye diseases remain one of the biggest causes of sight loss, and many can be prevented with early detection and treatment.
    • Dr Pearse Keane, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and NIHR Clinician Scientist at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology said:            “We set up DeepMind Health because we believe artificial intelligence can help solve some of society’s biggest health challenges, like avoidable sight loss, which affects millions of people across the globe. These incredibly exciting results take us one step closer to that goal and could, in time, transform the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients with sight threatening eye conditions, not just at Moorfields, but around the world. “We’re immensely proud of this work, which once again demonstrates what is possible when world-leading clinicians and technologists collaborate to improve patient care”.
    • Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “This is hugely exciting and exactly the type of technology which will benefit the NHS in the long term and improve patient care - that’s why we fund over a billion pounds a year in health research as part of our long term plan for the NHS.”
    • Robert Dufton, chief executive at Moorfields Eye Charity, said: “The NHS has always nurtured medical breakthroughs and now artificial intelligence, although still in its infancy, has real potential to radically transform the way medicine is practiced. This exciting research provides important evidence about how AI can support doctors to provide more rapid diagnosis and treatment, freeing up clinicians’ time for direct patient care.”
    • Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said:  “As optometrists are often the first port of call for people with the symptoms of eye disease, we are very excited about the potential that AI has to assist them in helping patients. Further support in prioritising the referral of the patients with the greatest need is in the interests of both practitioners and patients, and we look forward to the results of clinical trials of this technology.”Michele Acton, Chief Executive at Fight for Sight, said:  “This paper shows the power of utilizing artificial intelligence in ophthalmology. Innovative research such as this could help hospital eye services manage their clinics more effectively in the future.”
    • Professor Andrew Lotery, Chair Scientific Committee, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said:
    • “Artificial intelligence has the potential to help us address so many challenging health issues. We’re delighted that it is being used to help those patients most at need to receive timely access to ophthalmologists and appropriate treatments. This is a great step forward and we believe that the use of artificial intelligence will have an increasing role in addressing eye diseases in the future.”
    • Martin Cordiner, Head of Research at the College of Optometrists said:
    • “Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK, affecting 600,000 people. It is extremely debilitating and timely treatment for patients with wet AMD, such as Elaine, is vital. Pressure on eye clinics has resulted in delays for many patients, which has tragically led to unnecessary sight loss. We’re excited by this latest development and hope in time this technology will alleviate the pressure on clinics and mean patients will get the urgent treatment they need.”
    • Tony Young, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Innovation, said:
    • “The need for treatment for eye diseases is forecast to grow, in part because people are living longer, far beyond our ability to meet the demand using current practice. Artificial intelligence is showing the potential to transform the speed at which diseases can be diagnosed and treatments suggested, making the best use of the limited time of clinicians. AI will also help our understanding of sight loss. Moorfields Eye Charity is proud to have funded equipment which underpins Dr Pearse Keane’s work as part of our programme of philanthropic support in pioneering researchers.”
    • “The UK leads the world in ground-breaking research and artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the way we spot eye disease, and could be genuinely transformative for the NHS in the future.
    • Elaine Manna, 71, from north London and mother of three, went blind in her left eye from wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). She is now being treated at Moorfields Eye Hospital to save the remaining sight in her right eye. She said:
    • “I lost the sight in my left eye in the year 2000 after noticing a sudden blurring of my vision. A few weeks went by and I was starting to get really worried. A doctor then told me I had a bleed at the back of my eye that needed to be treated urgently but it proved too late to save my sight. AMD has had a major impact on my life. I love going to the theatre but I find it difficult to see people’s faces and I struggle to find my way around dimly lit rooms. I really hope that technology can help people like me in the future.”
    • Professor Sir Peng Tee Khaw, director of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology said:
      “The results of this pioneering research with DeepMind are very exciting and demonstrate the potential sight-saving impact AI could have for patients. I am in no doubt that AI has a vital role to play in the future of healthcare, particularly when it comes to training and helping medical professionals so that patients benefit from vital treatment earlier than might previously have been possible. This shows the transformative research than can be carried out in the UK combining world leading industry and NIHR/NHS hospital/university partnerships.”
    • Mustafa Suleyman, Co-founder and Head of Applied AI at DeepMind Health, said:
    • Moorfields owns this database as a non-commercial public asset, which is already forming the basis of nine separate medical research studies. In addition, Moorfields can also use DeepMind’s trained AI model for future non-commercial research efforts, which could help advance medical research even further.
    • The work which has gone into this project will also help accelerate wider NHS research for many years to come. For example, DeepMind has invested significant resources to clean, curate and label Moorfields’ de-identified research dataset to create one of the most advanced eye research databases in the world.
    • If clinical trials are successful in demonstrating that the technology can be used safely and effectively, Moorfields will be able to use an eventual, regulatory-approved product for free across all 30 of their UK hospitals and community clinics, for an initial period of five years.
    • The next step is for the research to go through clinical trials to explore how this technology might improve patient care in practice, and regulatory approval before it can be used in hospitals and other clinical settings.
    • Secondly, the AI system can be easily applied to different types of eye scanner, not just the specific model on which it was trained. This could significantly increase the number of people who benefit from this technology and future-proof it, so it can still be used even as OCT scanners are upgraded or replaced over time.
    • The AI has been developed with two unique features which maximise its potential use in eye care. Firstly, the system can provide information that helps explain to eye care professionals how it arrives at its recommendations. This information includes visuals of the features of eye disease it has identified on the OCT scan and the level of confidence the system has in its recommendations, in the form of a percentage. This functionality is crucial in helping clinicians scrutinise the technology’s recommendations and check its accuracy before deciding the type of care and treatment a patient receives.
    • To establish whether the AI system was making correct referrals, clinicians also viewed the same OCT scans and made their own referral decisions. The study concluded that AI was able to make the right referral recommendation more than 94% of the time, matching the performance of expert clinicians.
    • Using two types of neural network – mathematical systems for identifying patterns in images or data – the AI system quickly learnt to identify ten features of eye disease from highly complex optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans. The system was then able to recommend a referral decision based on the most urgent conditions detected.
    • The study, which was launched in 2016, brought together leading NHS eye health professionals and scientists from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UCL with some of the UK’s top technologists at DeepMind to investigate whether AI technology could help improve the care of patients with sight-threatening diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease.
    • “The AI technology we’re developing is designed to prioritise patients who need to be seen and treated urgently by a doctor or eye care professional. If we can diagnose and treat eye conditions early, it gives us the best chance of saving people’s sight. With further research it could lead to greater consistency and quality of care for patients with eye problems in the future.”
    • “The number of eye scans we’re performing is growing at a pace much faster than human experts are able to interpret them. There is a risk that this may cause delays in the diagnosis and treatment of sight-threatening diseases, which can be devastating for patients.

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  • Joint IGA and Fight for Sight Research grant

    A new small grant is available, jointly funded by the International Glaucoma Association and Fight for Sight. For further details please see   https://www.fightforsight.org.uk/apply-for-funding/funding-opportunities/small-grant-awards-schemes/

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  • Fight for Sight announces 13 new awards to fund vital eye research

    Fight for Sight partners with nine different organisations to fund impactful and innovative research

    Fight for Sight, the leading eye research charity, has awarded grants totalling over £180,000 for thirteen vital research projects in partnership with nine different organisations. Fight for Sight has doubled its partnership working from the previous year, to further extend their impact and support for innovative research.

    New funds have been awarded to support research in these key areas:

    Dementia and visual impairment:
    For the first time, Fight for Sight and Alzheimer’s Research UK have teamed up to fund research into sight loss and dementia as many people with neurodegenerative diseases have problems with their vision. Pearse Keane from UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology will aim to detect Alzheimer’s disease through images of the retina. Working with researchers from Moorfields, who will analyse a database of over 2 million eye scans, the team will identify features in the scans which are commAon to people who have developed a neurodegenerative disease. The longer term aim is to develop a screening tool for earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease. The research will also enable a better understanding of why people with neurodegenerative diseases have problems with their vision.

    Dementia and age-related macular degeneration (AMD):
    Fight for Sight and Alzheimer’s Research UK are also jointly funding a project being led by Dr J. Arjuna Ratnayaka from the University of Southampton. Both Alzheimer’s disease and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have been linked with a group of misfolded proteins called amyloid beta (Aβ). The aim of this research is to study how Aβ proteins in the vitreous, the substance that fills the centre of the eye, change with age and disease progression. The research team will collect vitreous samples from AMD patients, screen for changes in Aβ levels and compare the results to those from healthy individuals. This research could help further prove that changes to retinal Aβ levels may be an effective biomarker for high-risk individuals likely to develop AMD before the actual symptoms of sight loss occur.

    Birdshot uveitis:
    Fight for Sight is partnering with Birdshot Uveitis Society to fund Professor Alastair Denniston’s research into birdshot chorioretinopathy which is taking place at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. The world’s first National Birdshot Biobank and Registry has been created, which is enabling researchers and clinicians to work towards better outcomes for birdshot treatments. Professor Denniston will study the genetic makeup of birdshot patients to understand the causes of the condition and develop ways to predict disease progression.

    Glaucoma:
    Fight for Sight and International Glaucoma Association are supporting a research project by Professor Colin Willoughby from Ulster University. Using the Treatment of Advance Glaucoma Study (TAGS), which has recruited over 450 patients, Professor Willoughby will explore the genetics of patients with advanced glaucoma. His team will provide predictive testing to improve early diagnosis. This will identify patients at risk of progression and may help to explain why the disease differs between different ethnic groups.

    Fight for Sight will also fund a project led by Dr Andrew Osbourne from the University of Cambridge, whose objective will be to improve our understanding of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signalling in human retinal tissue. BDNF and its receptor, tropomyosin-related kinase-B (TrkB), help maintain the survival of retinal ganglion cells, which gradually die, leading to sight loss and eventually blindness. This research could help treat patients with progressive glaucoma, particularly those who receive treatment to lower intra-ocular eye pressure yet still experience deterioration of their vision.

    Retinal vascular disease:
    Fight for Sight in partnership with National Eye Research Centre is funding Dr Adam Dubis from Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to create a database of normal eye blood flow features. This will define a range of healthy blood flow so that abnormal blood flow can be better identified. This information could result in improved diagnostic markers and potentially better treatments and patient management.

    Leber hereditary optic neuropathy:
    Fight for Sight and Thomas Pocklington Trust are jointly funding Dr Patrick Yu Wai Man at the University of Cambridge. His research will make use of functional MRI to get high-resolution “real time” images of the visual pathways from the eye all the way back to the vision centres in the brain. Researchers will map out the chronological changes that occur along those pathways and in the brain after the onset of vision loss in individuals with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). The researchers will explore whether functional MRI could prove useful as an assessment tool in future treatment trials. The knowledge gained will also help provide more accurate counselling to patients with LHON.

    Corneal and external eye conditions:
    Fight for Sight has funded Dr Mohammed Al-Aqaba from The University of Nottingham. A healthy ocular surface relies on stem cells replenishing old and damaged cells. The research team have discovered novel receptors which could play a pivotal role in the maintenance of this process. The aim of this research is to characterise the structure of these novel receptors which play a role in the regulation of stem cells and the micro-environment around the cornea. The results could reveal the function of these receptors and their role in the prevention of blindness.

    This latest round of Fight for Sight small grants also includes funding for the following projects:
    · Dr Maryse Bailly – funded in partnership with British Thyroid Foundation - A novel pathway regulating adipogenesis in Thyroid Eye Disease: characterization of spontaneous lipogenesis and validation of novel therapeutic targets
    · Dr Lee Mcilreavy – funded in partnership with Nystagmus Network - Diagnosing infantile nystagmus: a novel eye tracking approach
    · Dr Helen Griffiths – funded in partnership with Nystagmus Network - Nystagmus Stabilisation with Virtual Reality Technology
    · Dr Greg Elder – funded in partnership with Thomas Pocklington Trust and Esme’s Umbrella- Visual hallucinations in Charles Bonnet Syndrome: a neuroimaging comparison study with non-hallucinating control individuals
    · Miss Swan Kang – funded in partnership with Thyroid Eye Disease Charitable Trust - Characterisation of anterior segment vasculature in thyroid eye disease using optical coherence tomography angiography

    The next Fight for Sight small grants round opens for applications in May 2018 – keep an eye on the Fight for Sight web site for details: https://www.fightforsight.org.uk/apply-for-funding/

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  • Glaucoma patients representative needed to help shape NHS research

    A patient or member of the public from Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire (including Milton Keynes) or Berkshire is being sought to help shape NHS research in the Thames Valley through the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, which is part of the NHS.

    A brief article about the role is below and full details are available at this link:

    https://www.nihr.ac.uk/news/patient-and-public-representative-needed-to-help-shape-nhs-research/6460

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  • IGA trustee Professor Anthony King comments on new test to detect glaucoma

    "This is a potentially significant new test. It is novel in its application. There is no real comparable test available that looks at the eye in such a detailed way and it would certainly add to our current ability to evaluate patients with glaucoma. The researchers have shown that it appears to be safe and it can identify patients who have glaucoma and it is possibly predictive of patients who will have glaucoma progression so all of that is very positive for the future.

    "It is a very experimental paper and the way that the test is administered wouldn't be at all practical in the NHS. It's time consuming and involves an intravenous injection. Patients need to have pupils dilated and then there is a need to have scans so they would have to remain in the department for several hours, so it would be both time consuming for the patient and time consuming for the ophthalmology service. However it's likely that with future research these things could be refined significantly to hone it down to a more efficient delivery.

    There is no cure, but we can manage glaucoma to stop it progressing so this is a test that allows us to diagnose glaucoma at an earlier stage and also identify patients more likely to progress more quickly to implement treatments to stop it from progressing. Often one of the difficulties with glaucoma is that there are no early signs and people can have significant visual field loss before they are detected. As with most conditions the later that a condition is identified, the more difficult it becomes to treat it effectively. So many people will have glaucoma without being aware of it and they only become aware of it when they go to their optician for a routine evaluation and it is picked up then."

    The IGA believes that everyone should have an eye health check every two years and more regularly if recommended by a health professional.

    -ends-

    New eye test detects earliest signs of glaucoma

    A SIMPLE eye test could help solve the biggest global cause of irreversible blindness, glaucoma.

    In clinical trials, the pioneering diagnostic - developed by researchers at University College London (UCL) and the Western Eye Hospital - allowed doctors to see individual nerve cell death in the back of the eye.

    Glaucoma affects 60 million people in the world, with 1 in 10 suffering total sight loss in both eyes.

    Early detection means doctors can start treatments before sight loss begins. The test also has potential for early diagnosis of other degenerative neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.

    Results of first clinical trials with glaucoma patients are published today (28/04/17) in the journal BRAIN.

    Professor Francesca Cordeiro at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, who led the research, said: “Detecting glaucoma early is vital as symptoms are not always obvious. Although detection has been improving, most patients have lost a third of vision by the time they are diagnosed. Now, for the first time, we have been able to show individual cell death and detect the earliest signs of glaucoma. While we cannot cure the disease, our test means treatment can start before symptoms begin. In the future, the test could also be used to diagnose other neurodegenerative diseases.”

    Loss of sight in patients with glaucoma is caused by the death of cells in the retina at the back of the eye. This cell death is called apoptosis.

    As with other neurodegenerative conditions, more and more nerve cells are lost as the disease progresses.

    Professor Philip Bloom, Chief Investigator at Western Eye Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, added: “Treatment is much more successful when it is begun in early stages of the disease, when sight loss is minimal. Our developments mean we could diagnose patients 10 years earlier than was previously possible.”

    The technique developed is called DARC, which stands for detection of apoptosing retinal cells. It uses a specially developed fluorescent marker which attaches to cell proteins when injected into patients. Sick cells appear as white fluorescent spots during eye examination. UCL Business, the commercialisation company of UCL, holds the patents for the technology.

    The examination uses equipment used during routine hospital eye examinations. Researchers hope that eventually it may be possible for opticians to do the tests, enabling even earlier detection of the disease.

    The research is funded by Wellcome Trust.

    Bethan Hughes, from Wellcome’s Innovation team said: “This innovation has the potential to transform lives for those who suffer loss of sight through glaucoma, and offers hope of a breakthrough in early diagnosis of other neurodegenerative diseases. Loss of sight as you age is an incredibly difficult disability, impacting quality of life and independence.”

    Initial clinical trials were carried out on a small number of glaucoma patients and compared with tests on healthy people. The initial clinical trials established the safety of the test for patients.

    Further studies will now be carried out to into DARC and how it can be used not only to diagnose and treat glaucoma patients but also for other neurodegenerative conditions.

    ENDS

    Link to paper: The following link will go live at the time the embargo lifts: https://academic.oup.com/brain/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/brain/awx088
    For embargoed copies of the BRAIN paper and for media enquiries please contact Maggie Stratton: m.stratton@wellcome.ac.uk +44 (0)20 7611 8609/ +44 (0)787 211 2656
    For further information about DARC technology please contact Emma Alam: e.alam@uclb.com +44 (0)207 679 9000/ +44 (0)7896 058667
    About UCL Business

    UCL Business PLC (UCLB) is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. UCLB has a strong track record in commercialising medical technologies and provides technology transfer services to UCL’s associated hospitals; University College London Hospitals, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Royal Free London Hospital. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market. For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com Twitter: @UCL_Business

    About UCL (University College London)

    UCL was founded in 1826. We were the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has over 38,000 students from 150 countries and over 12,000 staff. Our annual income is more than £1 billion. www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews | Watch our YouTube channel YouTube.com/UCLTV

    About Imperial Hospitals NHS Trust/Western Eye Hospital

    Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is one of the largest hospital Trust’s in England, providing acute and specialist healthcare for a population of nearly two million people. The Trust has five hospitals – Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and The Western Eye – as well as community services.

    The Western Eye Hospital is a specialist eye hospital in West London with a 24/7 accident and emergency department. The hospital’s facilities also include outpatients, inpatients, day case and inpatient surgery.

    About Wellcome

    Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.

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  • The IGA welcomes new eye test which can detect earliest signs of glaucoma

    Chief executive, Karen Osborn comments on the new test developed by researchers at University College London (UCL) and the Western Eye Hospital:

    "This is an exciting trial for people with glaucoma, as early diagnosis is critical to help prevent avoidable sight loss. This latest test could help clinicians to diagnose and treat glaucoma when the loss of sight from glaucoma is at its earliest stage".

    Press release

    EMBARGO: 00.01 BST Thursday, 27th April 2017

    New eye test detects earliest signs of glaucoma

    A SIMPLE eye test could help solve the biggest global cause of irreversible blindness, glaucoma.

    In clinical trials, the pioneering diagnostic - developed by researchers at University College London (UCL) and the Western Eye Hospital - allowed doctors to see individual nerve cell death in the back of the eye.

    Glaucoma affects 60 million people in the world, with 1 in 10 suffering total sight loss in both eyes.

    Early detection means doctors can start treatments before sight loss begins. The test also has potential for early diagnosis of other degenerative neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.

    Results of first clinical trials with glaucoma patients are published today (28/04/17) in the journal BRAIN.

    Professor Francesca Cordeiro at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, who led the research, said: “Detecting glaucoma early is vital as symptoms are not always obvious. Although detection has been improving, most patients have lost a third of vision by the time they are diagnosed. Now, for the first time, we have been able to show individual cell death and detect the earliest signs of glaucoma. While we cannot cure the disease, our test means treatment can start before symptoms begin. In the future, the test could also be used to diagnose other neurodegenerative diseases.”

    Loss of sight in patients with glaucoma is caused by the death of cells in the retina at the back of the eye. This cell death is called apoptosis.

    As with other neurodegenerative conditions, more and more nerve cells are lost as the disease progresses.

    Professor Philip Bloom, Chief Investigator at Western Eye Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, added: “Treatment is much more successful when it is begun in early stages of the disease, when sight loss is minimal. Our developments mean we could diagnose patients 10 years earlier than was previously possible.”

    The technique developed is called DARC, which stands for detection of apoptosing retinal cells. It uses a specially developed fluorescent marker which attaches to cell proteins when injected into patients. Sick cells appear as white fluorescent spots during eye examination. UCL Business, the commercialisation company of UCL, holds the patents for the technology.

    The examination uses equipment used during routine hospital eye examinations. Researchers hope that eventually it may be possible for opticians to do the tests, enabling even earlier detection of the disease.

    The research is funded by Wellcome Trust.

    Bethan Hughes, from Wellcome’s Innovation team said: “This innovation has the potential to transform lives for those who suffer loss of sight through glaucoma, and offers hope of a breakthrough in early diagnosis of other neurodegenerative diseases. Loss of sight as you age is an incredibly difficult disability, impacting quality of life and independence.”

    Initial clinical trials were carried out on a small number of glaucoma patients and compared with tests on healthy people. The initial clinical trials established the safety of the test for patients.

    Further studies will now be carried out to into DARC and how it can be used not only to diagnose and treat glaucoma patients but also for other neurodegenerative conditions.

    ENDS

    Link to paper: The following link will go live at the time the embargo lifts: https://academic.oup.com/brain/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/brain/awx088
    For embargoed copies of the BRAIN paper and for media enquiries please contact Maggie Stratton: m.stratton@wellcome.ac.uk +44 (0)20 7611 8609/ +44 (0)787 211 2656
    For further information about DARC technology please contact Emma Alam: e.alam@uclb.com +44 (0)207 679 9000/ +44 (0)7896 058667
    About UCL Business

    UCL Business PLC (UCLB) is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. UCLB has a strong track record in commercialising medical technologies and provides technology transfer services to UCL’s associated hospitals; University College London Hospitals, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Royal Free London Hospital. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market. For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com Twitter: @UCL_Business

    About UCL (University College London)

    UCL was founded in 1826. We were the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has over 38,000 students from 150 countries and over 12,000 staff. Our annual income is more than £1 billion. www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews | Watch our YouTube channel YouTube.com/UCLTV

    About Imperial Hospitals NHS Trust/Western Eye Hospital

    Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is one of the largest hospital Trust’s in England, providing acute and specialist healthcare for a population of nearly two million people. The Trust has five hospitals – Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and The Western Eye – as well as community services.

    The Western Eye Hospital is a specialist eye hospital in West London with a 24/7 accident and emergency department. The hospital’s facilities also include outpatients, inpatients, day case and inpatient surgery.

    About Wellcome

    Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.

    Read more

  • 2016 IGA/RCN RESEARCH AWARD FOR DEBRA JONES OF HINCHINBROOKE HOSPITAL

    Debra Jones, a Glaucoma Specialist Nurse, together with Professor Rupert Bourne, at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, have won a £25,0000 research grant after applying for the 2016 IGA (International Glaucoma Association) and RCN Research Grant.  The award will fund their 12 month project entitled, Development of an evidence-based clinical tool that will predict ‘risk of non-adherence’ to topically applied glaucoma medication.

    The aim of Debra Jones’ and Professor Bourne’s research is to investigate factors that may affect patients adhering to their eye drop medications for glaucoma and to develop a simple evidence-based clinical tool that will predict ‘risk of non-adherence’ that may be of use in assessing patients in the clinical setting.  In the long term it should produce a better understanding of the relationship between patient factors such as ocular surface disease, patient knowledge and treatment non-adherence to help deliver more patient-centred care in the future.

    About the IGA and RCN Research Grant

    The IGA and RCN Research Grant facilitates research into supporting patients during their glaucoma care.  It is estimated that there are 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK today, but half are undiagnosed. The most common form of treatment of glaucoma is the administration of eye drops on a daily basis which reduce intra-ocular pressure, however, this only works if patients adhere to the treatment. The IGA encourages patient orientated research and research directly concerned with the improvement of the management of glaucoma.  The Grant is for individual nurses or departments, based in the UK or Eire and is awarded annually.

    Comments Russell Young, CEO of IGA: “We believe that the results of research such as this can make a real difference to people living with glaucoma. All too often the IGA receives calls from people who are having difficulty in taking their eye drops. The development of an evidence based clinical tool, will help to identify who is at risk, so that clinical support can be allocated and provided”.

    -ENDS-

    Notes for editors:

    *references available

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  • IGA Professor of Glaucoma recognised as one of most influential people in ophthalmology today

    IGA professor recognised for his glaucoma researchIGA Professor of Ophthalmology, Glaucoma and Allied Studies is recognised for the second consecutive year as one of the most influential people in ophthalmology today. For the second year running, Professor David Garway-Health has been included on the Ophthalmologist Power List 2016.

    Comments Russell Young; "Professor Garway-Heath's achievements are considerable. We are fortunate that, as well as his work as the Vice President of the European Glaucoma Society, his work with the University of London, his Consultant position at Moorfields Eye Hospital, he is also able to act as a clinical advisor and spokesperson for the IGA".

    Research by David (Ted) Garway-Heath has provided many new tools that are in widespread use today. These include the Moorfields Motion Displacement Test; The Moorfields Regression Analysis, a software program for imaging performance in tomography; and the Garway-Heath Map, used in research to establish the correlation between visual field and optic nerve hypoplasia changes. In addition, his work on the UK Glaucoma Treatment Study showed that it was possible to reduce considerably the period needed to identify treatment effects, thus increasing the likelihood of bringing new drugs more quickly and more cost-effectively to patients.

    For the full PowerList click here

    Note to editors

     

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  • Professor of Ophthalmology for Glaucoma and Allied Studies takes up position as European Glaucoma Society Vice President

    Professor David (Ted) Garway-Heath, the IGA Professor of Ophthalmology for Glaucoma and Allied Studies, has been appointed Vice President of the European Glaucoma Society (EGS) and takes up his full position in 2016. His first meeting as Vice President of the EGS takes place at the annual meeting in June 2016.

    Glaucoma research professor

    Professor Garway Health is based at University College London (UCL) and is Theme Leader for Vision Assessment and Imaging at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre based at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University City London Institute of Ophthalmology.

    In addition to his clinical work, Professor Garway-Heath's research focuses on the development and evaluation of techniques for effective diagnosis, monitoring and management of glaucoma, the identification of risk factors for glaucoma progression and decision-support systems for healthcare delivery services.

    He is the author of over 180 peer-reviewed publications. Professor Garway-Heath was bestowed the prestigious Alcon Research Institute Award for "outstanding contributors to ophthalmic research" as well as the World Glaucoma Association Research Recognition Award. He was also cited as one of the 100 most influential people in ophthalmology worldwide in 2014 in The Ophthalmologist magazine power list.

    For more information on Professor Garway-Heath's achievements.

    For more information on registration to the European Glaucoma Society 2016 annual meeting.

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  • The Lancet: Most commonly prescribed glaucoma drug reduces risk of vision loss by more than 50 per cent over 2 years

    19 December 2014

    Prostaglandin analogue eye drops, the most commonly prescribed treatment for glaucoma, can greatly reduce risk of vision loss in people with open angle glaucoma (OAG), one of the leading causes of blindness, according to the first placebo-controlled trial to assess their vision-preserving effect published in The Lancet.

    “Medication to lower raised eye pressure has been used for decades as the main treatment for OAG to delay progressive vision loss. But, until now, the extent to which the most frequently prescribed class of pressure-lowering drugs (prostaglandin analogues) have a protective effect on vision was not known” *, explains David Garway-Heath, lead author and International Glaucoma Association Professor of Ophthalmology at the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK. “Our findings offer solid proof to patients and practitioners that the visual deterioration caused by glaucoma can be reduced using this treatment.”*

    OAG is the most common form of glaucoma affecting more than 550000 people in England and Wales and about 45 million worldwide, projected to increase to 53 million in 2020 and 80 million in 2040 [1]. Vision loss from glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged. In most cases, increased pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure), is thought to contribute to this damage.

    The United Kingdom Glaucoma Treatment Study (UKGTS) recruited 516 newly diagnosed, previously untreated individuals with OAG from 10 hospitals across the UK.

    Half were randomly assigned to daily pressure-lowering eye drops (latanoprost 0.005%) and the other half to a matching placebo. Over the course of 2 years, participants underwent frequent visual field tests to identify glaucoma deterioration to an extent that would not be noticed by the patient.

    In the 59 patients in the placebo group and 35 patients in the latanoprost group whose vision deteriorated during the study period, the risk of visual deterioration was over 50% lower in the group treated with daily pressure-lowering eye drops compared to those using placebo drops over 2 years. Importantly, a significant difference in treatment effects could be seen between the groups after just 12 months. Eighteen serious adverse events were reported (9 in the placebo group and 9 in the latanoprost group) but none were viewed as related to latanoprost.

    According to Professor Garway-Heath, “Normally, observation periods in trials are at least 5 years. We have shown that with more frequent testing, data can be collected using shorter observation periods. This will bring considerable benefits including speeding up novel drug development, reducing costs, and increasing the likelihood of bringing new drugs to patients.”*

    Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Anders Heijl from Lund University, Malmö, Sweden, points out, “Since modern glaucoma treatment is based on reduction of intraocular pressure, and because glaucoma management uses about 25% of all ophthalmology resources, this is a fundamental issue in ophthalmic care…These results should motivate careful clinical follow-up and monitoring of disease progression in patients with glaucoma, and should also serve as a stimulus to the pharmaceutical industry to continue development of new and even more potent drugs.”

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