How our eye health research makes a difference
The International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH) currently holds 40 research grants totalling £4.5 million. Approximately one-third is from NGOs. Other funders include the UK’s Department of Health, peer-reviewed grant-giving agencies, foundations and charities.
Each year, ICEH research staff publish around 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Allen Foster and Clare Gilbert, the professors who lead the group, have published over 250 papers and written 30 book chapters between them.
Find out what our eye health research has achieved in some of our priority areas of interest:
Data from the surveys has contributed to the global database of blindness. This plays a crucial role in advocacy and global priority setting.
The National Eye Care Plan and Programme informed VISION 2020 planning and demonstrated the economic benefits of blindness prevention.
Pakistan: The national survey showed that the prevalence of blindness had fallen by 50% over 15 years as a result of the expanding eye care programme. As a consequence, the Federal Ministry of Health launched a national plan for blindness prevention amounting to US$ 50 million.
Blindness in children
Bangladesh: Our research estimated that 12,000 children were blind from cataract but there was only one trained paediatric eye surgeon. In response, the Bangladesh Childhood Cataract Campaign was launched by the NGOs. Over a five-year period, 32,600 blind children were traced and 25,000 cataract operations were performed. Eight Child Eye Care Centres are now functional.
Latin America: Research by ICEH also shows retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a major cause of blindness in children in middle-income countries, particularly in Latin America. Workshops across the region have led to programme development and national guidelines.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has made control of ROP a high priority and several governments have new policies making examination of preterm babies compulsory.
ICEH helped develop the system of grading trachoma in the community, and helped formulate the SAFE strategy for trachoma control.
ICEH/LSHTM research demonstrated the impact of azithromycin on Chlamydial infection using quantitative polymerase chain reaction PCR. We also investigated mechanisms of conjunctival scarring leading to trichiasis.
Mongolia: The screening trial for angle closure glaucoma showed that screening did not reduce the incidence of disease in this population.
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Image credit: After participating in a study of low vision, this 10 year old Indian girl is learning maths for the first time. Clare Gilbert