Fight for Sight and UK’s leading ophthalmologists urge government to support eye research
Fight for Sight is siding with twelve leading ophthalmologists and researchers to address the urgent need of filling the funding gap in eye research in the UK. The twelve specialists signed a public letter, published on January 7 in the Guardian, to draw government attention to the need of developing a national plan on sight loss.
“The main obstacle 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, as well as increasing costs on health systems and infrastructure”, reads the letter.
The World Vision Report of October 2019 issued by the WHO, found that although more than one billion people in the world are living with sight loss, there is a considerable lack of investment in eye care and research. Both the WHO and the UN General Assembly underlined the urgent need for more investment in research on eye care and sight loss. Eye health has been identified as an area that should be addressed also in conformity with the human right to health, addressed by Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals
Currently, over two million of people in the UK are living with sight loss. By 2030 the number is expected to rise to 2.7 million and to double by 2050. “It’s shameful that in 2020 so little national research funding goes to eye research, especially when science offers so many possibilities to transform lives and that breakthroughs are happening every day. We’ve seen the first gene therapies for eye diseases becoming available on the NHS and stem cell treatments are already restoring sight for patients in clinical trials.” said Dr Rubina Ahmed, PhD, Head of Research at Fight for Sight, in a press release. “However, the amount of funding is currently not sufficient for the scale of the challenge, with hundreds of eye diseases and millions of people affected globally. Science and technology have the answers; the only obstacle is the lack of funding to make them happen. We’re encouraging everyone to join us to make 2020 the year urgent action is finally taken on sight loss.”