A recent study, published in Clinical Ophthalmology, has brought attention to the insufficient clinical research addressing the primary causes of severe sight impairment (SSI) in the working-age population of the UK. This situation reportedly results in an annual economic cost of £7.4 billion for the UK.
Conducted by researchers from Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Oxford, the study explored the alignment of clinical studies with the causes of SSI among both the general population and the working-age demographic. The findings revealed that eye conditions responsible for the majority of SSI certifications in individuals aged 16 to 64 receive less clinical research attention than those affecting the general population.
Inherited retinal disorders (IRDs), which lead to sight loss in approximately 1 in 2,000 people, were identified as a critical area requiring further clinical research. Despite being the foremost cause of SSI among the working-age population, the number of registered clinical studies on IRDs lags behind research on other conditions.
The research also emphasizes the necessity for a heightened focus on disorders of the visual cortex and congenital anomalies of the eye, as these are prominent causes of visual impairment in children and individuals of working age.
"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,” said Lead author Dr. Jasleen Jolly, Associate Professor within the Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI) at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).
She concluded: “These findings emphasize the need to understand and address not only the leading causes of sight loss in the U.K. population as a whole, but also to prioritize conditions that severely impact working-age individuals to reduce the health and socioeconomic impacts of sight loss.”
Wei Jia Liu et al, Clinical Research on the Leading Causes of Severe Sight Impairment in the UK General and Working Populations, Clinical Ophthalmology (2023). DOI: 10.2147/OPTH.S417773