Charities unite to tackle leading cause of blindness
Four leading sight loss charities have announced a unique partnership to find a treatment for one of the world’s leading causes of blindness.
Blind Veterans UK, Fight for Sight, the Macular Society and Scottish War Blinded are jointly launching a collaboration to transform the funding of research to address age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The collaboration, called Action Against AMD, is a response to the increasing prevalence of sight loss among the world’s ageing population. AMD is by far the biggest cause of visual impairment in the developed world and the third biggest globally.
In the UK 600,000 people are living with late-stage AMD today, a figure set to double by 2050.
In spite of this, only a small fraction, 0.2%, of public funding of research is spent on AMD. Blind Veterans UK and Scottish War Blinded both support ex-service men and women with sight loss. They have not previously funded medical research but have decided to join the collaboration because most of their members are blind as a result of AMD. Fight for Sight is the UK’s leading eye research charity and The Macular Society is the leading support and research charity specifically for people with macular diseases.
The aim of the partnership is to develop an intervention that prevents early stage AMD progressing to the point where people lose their sight. The charities have agreed to co-fund a three-year development project, worth £1m, to kick-start the generation of new funding streams to invest in the necessary research.
CEOs; Nick Caplin at Blind Veterans UK, Michele Acton at Fight for Sight, Cathy Yelf at the Macular Society and Mark O’Donnell at Scottish War Blinded said in a joint statement:
“We are delighted to be working together on this exciting campaign. Action Against AMD will change the face of biomedical research into this terrible disease and, in time, change the lives of millions of older people in the UK and around the world.
“Sight loss is devastating yet there is far too little priority given to eye research by government and research councils. In addition, the big charities in other health sectors fund hundreds of millions of pounds of medical research. Sadly for blind and partially-sighted people, that support is missing from the eye sector. “AMD is now a huge public health challenge. Action Against AMD will be raising awareness of the urgent need for research into this disease and generating new investment for this vital area of eye research.”