an open contact lens case, with a contact lens resting atop one of the lids

We’re funding research to help better diagnose and treat a range of diseases related to the front of the eye, because we believe that people’s sight matters.

The front of the eye consists of the cornea, the clear outer layer which covers the surface of the eye, and the sclera, the tough white’ of our eyes.

It’s exposed to the outside world, and so is susceptible to a range of conditions including infections, reactions and dystrophies, all of which can lead to sight loss.

Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK)

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Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) is an infection of the cornea, caused by a microscopic organism usually found in bodies of water such as rivers, swimming pools or tap water.

It is very rare, extremely painful, and can cause permanent visual impairment or even blindness.

85%

Around 85 per cent of AK cases are associated with contact lens wear

125

AK affects just 125 people a year in the UK

Little is known about this condition and it can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to other microbial corneal infections.

Symptoms and Treatments

Some diseases of the front of the eye are relatively mild, but others can lead to significant sight loss.

Treatments for Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK)

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There are currently no medicines licensed specifically to treat AK.

It is also particularly difficult to treat because it is resistant to many forms of traditional therapy such as antibiotics.

Investing in corneal and external eye diseases

We’re currently funding a range of research projects looking into corneal and external eye diseases. You can read about some of our most recently funded projects below.

What we’re funding

Recent progress