£7.1 million grant to fight preventable blindness

preventable blindness Commonwealth consortium

A consortium of eye experts is helping to treat preventable blindness.

The Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium has been formed by experts from a range of institutions to help research and treat avoidable blindness. The Consortium, helped by a £7.1 million grant, will work across Commonwealth nations to provide care and drive research into conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, which leave millions without sight.

Globally there are 285 million visually impaired people, of whom 39 million are blind. Yet, 80% of blindness and visual impairment is treatable or even curable. Good quality eye care is scarce for millions across the world, and it’s estimated nine out of ten blind people live in developing countries.

The newly created Consortium will implement a plan of fellowships, research and technology. The eye health organisations and academic institutions which make up the Consortium will work together to deliver the programme which aims to improve the quality of eye care, and help prevent blindness in several countries.

The programme designed by the Consortium will involve:

  • People: Improving training and information sharing, including Master’s courses, to help medical professionals identify and treat eye conditions.
  • Knowledge: Deepening knowledge of avoidable blindness and approaches to tackling it.
  • Tools: Development and increased use of technology such as PEEK (portable eye examination kit) which will help identify and diagnose eye problems in any setting using a smartphone.

Sir John Major, chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust which is funding the Consortium said, “With the invaluable and diverse talents of so many specialists – from all around the Commonwealth – we can, together, lead the fight against avoidable blindness worldwide.”