In a public letter released in the Guardian, Fight for Sight has has called upon leaders in the field to urge the government to “develop a national plan” to address sight loss.
The eye research charity convened the UK’s leading ophthalmologists to draw attention to the “1:20 funding gap”, a notion that despite 20% of people in the UK experiencing serious sight loss or blindness in their lifetime, just 1% of the national grant funding is invested in eye research.
On top of this, the prevalence of of sight loss is also on the rise, and the number of people in Europe with the leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration, is projected to hit 10 million by 2050.
Back in October 2019 a WHO World Vision Report found that more than one billion people worldwide are living with sight loss, which is contributed to by a lack of investment in eye care and research.
Adding to this research, Fight for Sight will be conducting a major research study in 2020 which will show the economic and personal impact of sight loss, as “blindness can have a huge impact on people’s mental health and ability to work, increasing costs on health systems and infrastructure.”
The situation is being regarded as “shameful” by head of research at Fight for Sight, Dr Rubina Ahmed, who said that “We’ve seen the first gene therapies for eye diseases become available on the NHS and stem cell treatments are already restoring sight for patients at clinical trial.”
She went on to explain that the “amount of funding currently is not fit 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 barrier is the funding to make it happen.”
Finally, she encouraged “urgent action”, as there are currently over two million people in the UK living with sight loss.