Put simply, population studies or epidemiology is the study of how often diseases occur in different groups of people and why. It is often referred to as population research.
To help understand why disease occurs, why certain people are affected and others are not, it is useful to analyse data on large numbers of people within a particular geographical area be it a country, district, etc.
Researchers carry out studies to discover if there is any correlation with factors that might indicate the causes of illness. In vision research, epidemiological information is used to plan and evaluate strategies, firstly to prevent illness and furthermore to guide the management of patients in whom disease has already developed.
Sight loss conditions such as retinal degenerations are the most common cause of vision loss in the global working population. Social science studies aim to identify the burden and impact of these conditions not only on the individual and their families and friends but also on the economy.
A greater understanding of the incidence and prevalence of disease along with the cost and social burden will significantly assist in the development and commissioning of clinical services, treatments, and the planning and implementation of clinical treatment trials.
Additionally, strong evidence-based data is extremely relevant when it comes to subsequent health technology evaluations and reimbursement negotiations, both of which are areas garnering much focus and attention.
Fighting Blindness is currently funding a study called IRD COUNTS which aims to identify the social and cost burden of living with an inherited retinal degeneration.