New research project to be funded by Fighting Blindness in DIT

We are delighted to announce that funding has been approved for the first Fighting Blindness-funded clinical trial.

The project is being led by Prof James Loughman in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). Prof Loughman has a specific research interest in preventive interventions for the most common causes of visual impairment and blindness, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, refractive error and glaucoma. He is director of two Africa-based international development projects – the Mozambique Eyecare Project and the Human Resources for Eye Health initiative. He has also been involved with a glaucoma clinical trial and a contact lens development trial.

Fighting Blindness have committed to funding the project “Pioneering Advances for Control of Myopia in Children – the SHIELD initiative” for three years, with matched funding being provided by the Health Research Board through the Medical Research Charities Group co-funding scheme.

Short-sightedness (or myopia) is the most common eye problem in Ireland. Although the initial vision impairment can be corrected by glasses, myopia is bad for the health of our eyes as it significantly increases the risk of glaucoma, cataract and retinal detachment – potentially blinding conditions. Currently there are no established treatments to stop people becoming short-sighted, and no treatments to stop them getting worse if they do.

This project is designed to test a promising new treatment that might stop myopia getting worse in children. The group, including Mr Ian Flitcroft who is a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Temple Street Children’s Hospital and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, will be testing a painless eye drop that will be given once a day, at night. The purpose of this clinical trial is to see if the eye drops work and to make sure it is safe and acceptable to young people with myopia. As well as testing the drop, they will also look at how the eye grows in myopia to help us to understand the condition better. We know that 75 – 80% of blindness is preventable. This study aims to treat myopia and therefore reduce the risk of developing conditions such as glaucoma, cataract and retinal detachment which can lead to blindness.

By funding this project, Fighting Blindness aims to build clinical trial expertise, capacity and infrastructure in Ireland.