More than 1 million people in the UK will undergo tissue repair to the eye at a cost of over £20 million per annum to health and social services.
The eye heals in a multitude of ways after trauma, surgery and pathology, and, often, successful repair is measured by the restoration of transparency of tissues located in the visual axis. Other times, controlled wound repair is desirable, for example in the case of elective surgeries such as laser refractive surgery and glaucoma filtration surgery.
Laser refractive surgery is a multimillion pound business in the UK, but unfortunately in a small number of cases the cornea heals incompletely and can remain hazy, reducing vision. In glaucoma, elevated intraocular pressure can be reduced by creating a drainage channel which allows aqueous humor to leave the eye. In this situation, normal repair processes need to be controlled because "healing" of this channel would lead again to high intraocular pressure.
The eye is also prone to a number of pathological conditions (e.g. proliferative diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration) which are considered to be excessive and uncontrolled wound healing processes involving angiogenesis and fibrosis. Often the result is blindness. Research groups across Cardiff University are investigating these processes with emphasis on corneal transparency, repair and tissue engineering, and the regulation of angiogenesis.