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Fight for sight

10 June 2011

optometryA human sclera being examined using high-intensity X-ray imaging.

Cardiff University research into glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness worldwide, has received significant new funding from a leading UK charity.

Researchers from the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences have received more than £120,000 from Fight for Sight, the UK’s leading charity dedicated to funding world-class research into the prevention and treatment of blindness and eye disease.

Dr Craig Boote and Professor Keith Meek are studying the sclera (the white of the eye) to identify changes that may contribute to optic nerve damage.

Using data gathered from motion capture video technology they are able to accurately record the movement of the eyeball surface as internal pressure changes. This is combined with data on the sclera’s microscopic structure that the team collect using powerful imaging methods.

Together the information is used to build computer models of the human eye that could lead to the development of new treatments.

Increased eye pressure is a major risk factor for glaucoma and can lead to permanent damage to the optic nerve, resulting in sight loss. The optic nerve is supported by the sclera and, although this tissue is thought to play a role in optic nerve damage in glaucoma, little is understood about how this happens.

Speaking of the impact this new funding will have Dr Boote said: "Treating the sclera potentially offers a new route to reducing or preventing nerve damage in glaucoma. However we still know remarkably little about scleral structure and function in either healthy or glaucoma eyes. By addressing this we hope our research will help drive the future development of new glaucoma therapies."

This funding comes at the same time as Specsavers, which accounts for 42 per cent of Britain’s optical market, signalled their support for Cardiff’s glaucoma research by donating £2,000 to help fund research into potential cures for the condition.

This additional support will contribute to the research of Professor James Morgan who said: "We are delighted to receive support for our research. We are working on ways to reverse some of the vision loss that occurs in glaucoma and the support will help us in our efforts to develop new treatments for patients."

Frank Moloney, store director at Specsavers in Cardiff added "We are pleased to be able to support Cardiff University in their research programme. We must invest in research now so treatments to save, and potentially restore the sight of millions of people affected by glaucoma are available in the future."

Related links:

School of Optometry & Vision Sciences