Twelve ophthalmology leaders have signed a public letter to the U.K. government calling for a national plan to address sight loss, according to a press release from Fight for Sight.
The country currently invests 1% of national research funding in eye research, while 20% of people in the U.K. will experience serious sight loss or blindness in their lifetime, with that number expected to rise dramatically by 2050. Fight for Sight, a nonprofit organization focused on curbing sight loss through research, calls this the “1 to 20” funding gap.
“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 there are breakthroughs happening every day. 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,” Rubina Ahmed, PhD, head of research at Fight for Sight, said in the release. “However, 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. We’re encouraging everyone to join us and make 2020 the year urgent action is finally taken on sight loss.”
The organization is planning a research study this year to show the economic and personal impact of sight loss. Findings are expected in July and will be used to lobby the U.K. government and funding bodies to create a national sight loss plan, the release said.