This Report aims to drive eye health up the public health agenda, raise awareness of the tremendous legacy and potential of eye research but also highlight the challenges facing eye research including the critical need for greater investment. It points to the vital link between laboratory work and positive clinical outcomes and not only makes the case for eye research as a major stakeholder and key influencer in the provision of quality eye care but also justifies the position of eye research as an equal partner in delivering an improved quality of life for the visually impaired alongside the provision of key services such as accessible transport, disability benefits, rehabilitation and social support.
This Report appears at a time when our eyes remain under increasing attack from a wide range of viral, fungal and bacterial infections as well as neurodegenerative, systemic, auto-immune and inherited diseases. Other factors such as injury and trauma, lifestyle choices, environment, mutant genes and ageing also play their part in sight loss. Against this backdrop, the opportunities to make a significant difference to people’s lives have never been greater. This is a critical time when the eye research community in the UK can harness the revolution in biological sciences, engineering and computing to prevent and cure the causes of vision loss.
Contributors to this Report repeatedly make the point that eye research continues to deliver improvements in the areas of prediction, detection, diagnosis and prognosis, treatments, testing/measuring/monitoring and rehabilitation. The knock on effects of these improvements will be to reduce pressures in secondary care and widen capacity in primary care, educate up practitioners and their patients, promote individual responsibility and self-care, accommodate the harder-to-reach communities including those with dementia in the process of detection and intervention, act as a bulwark against increasing depression , restore mobility and social connectivity, facilitate entry into education and employment, encourage greater patient input into the delivery of eyecare and above all stand as an equal partner alongside all stakeholders in eye care in delivering “appropriate treatment in the appropriate place and at the appropriate time”.