Glaucoma research

  • 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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  • Visual component of UK driving test needs modernising

    26 November 2014

    Researchers from City University London have found that the visual component of the UK driving test is outdated.

    Using the latest technology, the study - which is published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology - shows that the current test used to assess fitness to drive is likely not assessing the right areas of the visual field. The findings might prompt the design of a fairer eye sight test ensuring with greater accuracy that only those safe to drive are present on the roads.

    To measure the effects of different visual impairments the researchers developed a novel computer setup. This technology gave people with normal vision ‘simulated’ sight loss in different areas of their vision whilst they tried to detect hazards in movies of driving scenes.

    The team found that a loss of the upper part of someone’s visual field had a larger impact on their ability to detect driving hazards than those with a loss in the lower part. Unfortunately the current test used by DSA (Driving Standards Agency) to assess patients with eye disease tends to test more areas in the lower part of the visual field.

    David Crabb, lead author on the study and Professor of Statistics and Vision Research at City University London, said:

    “The current test used to examine the visual field component for legal fitness to drive in patients with eye disease in the UK is far from ideal. Our study goes some little way to highlight this.

    “The visual component of fitness to drive is a very tricky to assess. Yet, at the moment some people are losing or retaining their driving licence on a far from perfect test. We need more research in this area, especially on what parts of vision are needed for safe driving.”

    Russell Young, CEO of International Glaucoma Association, which provided a research award to fund this work said:

    “These are important early findings which begin to question the suitability of the Esterman visual field test that is currently being used to assess a person’s fitness and safety to drive. People with glaucoma in both eyes are required by the DSA to take this test; they are often worried about what to expect, and stressed about the impact on their quality of life if they have to relinquish their licence.

    “The current test developed over 30 years ago, was not designed with driving in mind and, as this new research highlights, it probably doesn’t test the important parts of the visual field well enough. Further investment is needed to fund the design and development of improved tests and technology for assessing the visual field component of fitness to drive.”

    “It is vital that people with glaucoma and other visual impairments as well as the driving authorities are confident in the tests and equipment being used.”

    -Ends-

    Click here for a copy of the study http://www.glaucoma-association.com/research-grants/impact-of-superior-and-inferior-visual-field-loss-on-hazard-detection-in-a-computer-based-driving-test.html. To speak to Professor David Crabb (@crabblab), please contact George Wigmore, Senior Communications Officer at the School of Health Sciences, City University London. E: george.wigmore.1@city.ac.uk T: 0207 040 8782 M: 07989 643 112

    For more information please contact: Karen Brewer (International Glaucoma Association), 01233 64 81 64. M: 0751 636 9630. email: k.brewer@iga.org.uk

    For more information about Glaucoma and Driving, see the IGA driving leaflet. http://www.glaucoma-association.com/blog/new-driving-and-glaucoma-leaflet-available.html

    About The International Glaucoma Association

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma, with the mission to raise awareness of glaucoma, promote research related to early diagnosis and treatment, and to provide support to patients and all those who care for them. For more information, please visit www.glaucoma-association.com

    About City University London

    City University London is a global University committed to academic excellence, with a focus on business and the professions and an enviable central London location.  It is in the top five per cent of universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013/14 and in the top thirty universities in the UK according to the Times Higher Education Table of Tables 2012. It is ranked in the top 10 in the UK for both graduate-level jobs (The Good University Guide 2014) and in the top 5 for graduate starting salaries (Lloyds Bank).

    The University attracts over 17,000 students (35% at postgraduate level) from more than 150 countries and academic staff from over 50 countries.  Its academic range is broadly-based with world leading strengths in business; law; health sciences; engineering; mathematical sciences; informatics; social sciences; and the arts including journalism and music. The University’s history dates back to 1894, with the foundation of the Northampton Institute on what is now the main part of City’s campus. In 1966, City was granted University status by Royal Charter and the Lord Mayor of London was invited to be Chancellor, a unique arrangement that continues today. Professor Paul Curran has been Vice-Chancellor of City University London since 2010.

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  • How watching TV can help to detect glaucoma

    20 November 2014

    Professor David Crabb of City of London University explains on the BBC World Service, how research has used eye tracking software coupled with popular TV, to detect glaucoma. The research is fascinating and shows how advances in technology, investment in eye tracking software, can be used to both help and provide possible options for ongoing management of the condition, which is life-long.

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