News Release

Sight loss in working-age people is under-researched

New study reveals knowledge gaps for conditions that affect 18-64-year-olds in UK

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Anglia Ruskin University

A new study has highlighted a lack of clinical research to address the leading causes of severe sight impairment (SSI) among the working-age UK population, which costs the UK economy an estimated £7.4bn annually.


The study, carried out by researchers from Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Oxford, examined how clinical studies align with the causes of SSI, among both the general and working populations.


Researchers found that eye conditions causing the most SSI certifications in working-age (aged 16-64) individuals are less clinically researched compared to those in the general population.


Inherited retinal disorders (IRDs), which cause sight loss in approximately 1 in 2,000 people, was identified as a critical area for further clinical research. Despite being the leading cause of SSI in the working population, the number of registered clinical studies on IRDs lags behind other conditions.


The research also highlights the need for increased focus on disorders of the visual cortex and congenital anomalies of the eye, which are leading causes of visual impairment in children and working-age individuals.


Lead author Dr Jasleen Jolly, Associate Professor within the Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI) at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “Our research found that degeneration of the macula and posterior pole is the leading cause of SSI certification in the general population and is the subject of the most research activity. However, hereditary retinal disorders are the predominant cause of SSI certifications in the working-age population, yet the number of clinical studies focusing on this group of conditions is substantially smaller than those on macular degeneration.


“These findings emphasise the need to understand and address not only the leading causes of sight loss in the UK population as a whole, but also to prioritise conditions that severely impact working-age individuals to reduce the health and socioeconomic impacts of sight loss.”


The research was published in the journal Clinical Ophthalmology. The full, open-access study can be read here.

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