New materials to be developed to repair eyes

For an individual the loss of sight is estimated by the RNIB to have a financial impact of £20k per year and the annual cost to the UK economy is around £6.5 billion in terms of direct healthcare costs and other costs such as unpaid carers and loss of employment.

The five-year Engineering Fellowship for Growth has been awarded to Professor Rachel Williams to bring together expertise from across departments such as and vision science, engineering, chemistry and physics to address these issues.

The researchers will work on new materials which could be used as artificial corneas – removing the need for patients to wait for a transplant. They will also develop contact lenses which are manufactured in a more environmentally friendly way and that can be adapted to carry drugs to help people recover from wounds to the eye or to fight infections.

Professor Williams said: "The eye is a complex structure and the design and production of advanced materials are required to overcome the destructive nature of ocular diseases. Bringing together engineers, scientists and clinicians to combine their knowledge and expertise and apply them to address the eye healthcare problems of the 21st Century has enormous potential."

Other strands of the research will develop surfaces which promote the growth of cells ready to be implanted in the eye to repair damage caused by conditions such as .

The funding was announced by Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts and has been provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to support the Government's Eight Great Technologies policy.

Professor Williams is based in the University's Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease and was recently named by the EPSRC as one of the UK's top ten most inspirational scientists. She added: "This funding will allow the University to bring together a diverse group of researchers with different specialisms.

"By combining this expertise in one place, we hope to be able to make a major impact on restoring people's sight and protecting their vision."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers collaborate to reduce effects of the aging eye

Jan 17, 2014

Aging gracefully may not be an option for the 40 million people worldwide who are blind or have significant visual impairment. It's reported that 65% of those with visual impairment and 82% of those who are blind are over ...

Guard your good vision, experts say

May 23, 2014

(HealthDay)—Smoking, decorative contact lenses and laser pointers all pose a threat to your eyes, but sitting too close to the television or computer screen doesn't, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ...

Recommended for you

Multidose eye drop approach approved by joint commission

Dec 14, 2014

(HealthDay)—A policy and procedural approach to the use of multidose eye drops has been approved by The Joint Commission and can reduce costs for patients and facilities, according to an article published ...

Retina's cancer-like metabolism could lead to new treatments

Dec 05, 2014

Eye surgeons at the University of Adelaide have discovered that the retina in human eyes uses energy in a very similar way to cancer, which could lead to improved understanding of cancers as well as eye disease such as macular ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.