National Glaucoma Week – #GetEyeWise

This week is the 2017 National Glaucoma Awareness Week.  Established by the International Glaucoma Association, this year they are focussing on raising awareness of eye pressure and encourage people to get a regular eye pressure check.

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Moorfield Eye Hospital has approximately 80,000 glaucoma patient visits per year across 15 sites in the London area and is active in a number of large glaucoma trials.  Scientists and clinicians at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology are involved in a wide range of research programmes to improve current treatments and find new therapies to improve the sight for people with glaucoma.

Keith Barton – Advancing surgical approaches in patients with glaucoma

Mr Keith Barton, consultant ophthalmic surgeon for the glaucoma service at Moorfields Eye Hospital and his team are investigating a number of avenues relating to glaucoma surgery research including trialling new devices, patient education and new clinical studies.  Advancements in these areas are helping Moorfields Eye Hospital evaluate the effectiveness and impact of surgical devices on patients with glaucoma.

Sir Peng – Reducing scar tissue after glaucoma surgery

Dr Cynthia Yu Wai Man and Professor Sir Peng Tee Khaw are carrying out research to develop a safer and more effective treatment to prevent scar tissue build up after glaucoma surgery.  Surgery can be very effective at reducing eye pressure but scarring of the eye tissue can limit the long term success. The current treatment of anti-scarring drugs can cause unpleasant side effects so there is a need to develop improved treatments.  There is an important group of genes that control how badly the eye scars and the aim of this research is to develop a drug that switches off these genes and prevents scarring taking place.  Laboratory experiments will test the safety of the new drug and how best to deliver it into the eye providing a body of evidence to inform potential future clinical trials.

Paul Foster – Understanding the genes responsible for acute-angle glaucoma

Professor Paul Foster and his team are looking at the genetic link in acute-closure glaucoma often called narrow-angle glaucoma.  It is caused by the angle between the iris and the cornea becoming very narrow reducing the drainage of fluid from the eye.  This causes an increase in intraocular pressure which may occur very rapidly, leading to severe irreversible damage to the nerves at the back of the eye in the retina.  It is known that some forms of angle-closure glaucoma can be inherited however little is known about the genes that cause the disease.  Professor Paul Foster and his team are working on a gene and related protein called SPATA13 where mutations in the gene leads to acute-closure glaucoma.  Their aim is to better understand how the SPATA13 protein functions in the eye.

Ananth Viswanathan – Evaluating the risk of cataract surgery to patients with glaucoma

Mr Ananth Viswanathan and Dr Conor Ramsden at Moorfields Eye Hospital are working on a study to establish the risk of significant visual loss in people with advanced glaucoma after cataract surgery.  Patients with glaucoma can develop cataracts and routine surgery to remove them is frequently carried out.  The sight of people with glaucoma may be a small ‘island’ of vision in one or both eyes so removing any cataracts that develop could make considerable improvements to their vision.  However there is a small risk of significant vision loss after the cataract operation.  The risk is discussed with patients prior to the surgery however there is an absence of empirical data to say what the risk is to this group of patients.  To improve the understanding of risk Mr Viswanathan’s team has initiated a surveillance programme through the Royal College of Ophthalmologists which will encourage ophthalmologists nationally to report the outcomes of cataract surgery on glaucoma patients.  Surgeons will be asked to report on gender, age and ethnicity and the type of glaucoma and cataract surgery performed and the outcome for the patient.  The data will be used to inform a follow-up study to design a standard protocol and provide patients with informed risks of cataract surgery.