On World Sight Day (10 October), NHS Blood and Transplant needs to dispel five common myths around cornea donation and encourage people to give the gift of sight.
One in 10 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register have indicated that they do not wish to donate their corneas, making corneas the part of the body that most people say they do not wish to donate. (1)
This has contributed to NHS Blood and Transplant eye banks being 20% below the level needed to supply hospitals across the country. As of 24 September, there were 273 corneas in NHS Blood and Transplant’s eye banks. Our aim is to have 350 corneas in our eye banks at any one time to supply to hospitals.
NHS Blood and Transplant needs to urgently dispel five myths and misconceptions that are potentially preventing people from giving the gift of sight:
The Medical Research Council (MRC) has awarded Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences a grant valued at £2.4 million for a large scale study on the cornea.
The aim of the research is to develop new technologies and techniques to better understand the function of the cornea and other collagen rich tissues. The research will also look to develop novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of connective tissue disorders including developmental abnormalities, disease and abnormal healing processes. The team will also continue to run, on behalf of the ophthalmological community, the UK Cross-linking Consortium to drive towards the best possible treatment for keratoconus.Cardiff University has been been awarded a £2.4m grant from the Medical Research Council to continue with their corneal research programme for a further 5-years. Read more …
Consultation update and invitation to further discussions.
Latest news : 7 August 2019
Moorfields and its partners, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Charity, are proposing to build a new centre bringing together excellent eye care, with ground-breaking research and education. The preferred location is a site that has become available at St Pancras Hospital, just north of King’s Cross and StPancras stations in central London.
The proposal, called Oriel, is the subject of a public consultation from 24 May to 16 September 2019. For more information, please visit oriel-london.org.uk.
Some of you will remember that the KC Group donated 4K to the Moorfields team, headed by Mr Stephen Tuft, researching the genetics of KC to enable them to do some additional analysis of the data. You may also have read the summary of the talk given by Professor Alison Hardcastle at our AGM earlier this year in our latest newsletter. Her talk gave an outline of the results of that analysis. A scientific paper giving detailed results has now been published.
In sending us the above link, Stephen Tuft wrote “The results of the work have given us some clues as to the genetic causes of keratoconus. In addition, this work will complement a very large study into the genetic basis of keratoconus that we hope to submit for publication in the next few weeks. The Keratoconus Group has helped us recruit for this study, and we are grateful for that.”
He also asked us to thank our members and tell them that their support at an early stage of this work helped move the research forward at an important time.
Quite a few of our members took part in the very large study that Mr Tuft mentions, so we will obviously let you know as soon as we have details of that publication.
Researchers at the University of Southampton and clinical partners across England are leading a new project aimed at helping to tackle a shortfall in the number of people willing to consent to eye donation.
In partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) service – with £720,000 funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), researchers at the University will investigate the viability of approaching patients in specialist palliative care settings or hospices, who may be willing to donate their eyes after they die.
Eye tissue is needed to treat a variety of eye conditions and to aid research into new sight saving therapies. However, currently there is a lack of eye tissue available to combat eye diseases which can lead to sight loss. NHS Blood and Transplant eye banks are around 20 percent below the level needed to supply hospitals. In April 2019 there were 279 corneas available, with a store of 350 needed at any one time to satisfy demand for the treatment of patients.
Lead researcher, Dr Tracy Long-Sutehall comments: “Understandably, people can hold very strong feelings about donating their eyes or those of a loved one – from concerns about disfigurement to cultural or religious considerations.
The Sight Advice FAQ answers questions about living with sight loss, eye health or being newly diagnosed with a sight condition. This includes those who are supporting people through their sight loss journey, including parents, partners, carers and friends.
It contains a search box and menu to find what you’re looking for.The site has been built by RNIB, Guide Dogs, Visionary, VICTA and Fight for Sight, working together in partnership. Click here to visit the site
Fight for Sight is working to raise awareness of the importance of eye donations after research has found that eyes are the organ that people would be the least likely to donate following their death.
The eye research charity has highlighted that there is currently a shortfall in corneas that can be used for transplant, with statistics released by NHS Blood and Transplant this month reporting that there are currently 279 corneas in eye banks, despite the target being to have around 350 at all times.
Our well attended, AGM was held on 23rd March 2019.
Three new committee members were appointed namely, Batcho Notay, Caroline Condillac and Jacqui Thomas. Moira O’Brien resigned for health reasons. The meeting paid tribute to Moira who has been a supporter of the KC group since its inception. Click here to see a full list of officials.
The meeting was followed by a fascinating talk by Alison Hardcastle, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the Institute of Ophthalmology Faculty of Brain Sciences, who spoke about the Moorfields genetic study.
To read the research summary published by UCL INSTITUTE OF OPHTHALMOLOGY- click here
This is an interesting article published by the National Keratoconus Foundation in America:
For many years, it’s been long stated that keratoconus occurs in one person in every 2,000. In an article published in March 2017, the American Journal of Ophthalmology, Dr. Daniel Godefrooij, from the University of Utrecht, refines our understanding of incidence and prevalence of KC(2).
The analysis that KC occurs in 1 in every 2,000 people was derived from a patient registry that was initiated in part by NKCF, over the span of fifty years from the 1930s to the 1980s. Some early supporters of NKCF likely participated in the voluntary survey. Read More…