To find out more about current ophthalmology studies you can view a list of studies on the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio Database
The NIHR Clinical Research Network Ophthalmology has been enormously successful in integrating clinical research into NHS clinical service provision, and both developing and delivering a large practice changing portfolio of clinical trials.
As the most integrated clinical research system in the world, the NIHR supports research studies through our funding programmes, training and supporting health researchers, and providing world-class research facilities. We also support dialogue between the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all, and facilitate the involvement of patients and the public to make research more effective.
Last year (2017/2018) the NIHR supported 184 studies on Ophthalmology. The NIHR supported these studies through our funding programmes and our research schools and units. We also support Ophthalmology research through our research infrastructure and our training and career development awards for researchers.
Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world, affecting more than 600,000 people in the UK. Wet age-related macular degeneration develops when abnormal blood vessels grow into the retinal pigment epithelium, which separates blood vessels from the nerve layer in the eye and nourishes the retina.
Researchers supported by the NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre have developed new treatment that repairs damaged retinas using tissue created by stem cells has successfully restored sight in people with wet age-related macular degeneration.
Two patients, a woman in her early 60s and a man in his 80s, regained reading vision after being the first to receive retinal tissue engineered from stem cells.
The Argus II system is an artificial implant, or ‘bionic eye’, that uses wireless signals from a camera worn by the user to stimulate an array of electrodes placed directly onto the surface of a patient’s retina. Argus II was the first device of its kind to be approved to induce visual perception, and therefore restore a degree of sight, in patients with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare hereditary disease that causes progressive damage to the light-sensitive cells in the retina and, ultimately, complete blindness.
A group at the Manchester Vision Regeneration Laboratory, supported by the NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility, set out to expand use of the Argus II system by trialling its use in a more common form of retinal disease, namely, ‘dry’ age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of blindness in the Western world.
In July 2015, the first participant in the Manchester research study received the Argus II implant, and thus became the first patient with dry AMD to combine artificial and natural vision using a retinal prosthesis.
Although robot assisted surgery is common, until now it has not been used inside the eye. This is because of the challenges in developing a robot small enough but still able to operate with the precision required.
Surgeons supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre performed the world’s first robot-assisted eye operation. In the Robotic Retinal Dissection Device (R2D2) trial, surgeons used a remotely controlled robot to lift a membrane a 100th of a millimetre thick from the retina and restore the patient’s sight.
The study was designed as a proof of concept trial, in which 12 people will undergo procedures of increasing complexity. The aim of the trial is to establish whether the robot can deliver what a surgeon is able to, but with greater accuracy.
You can find out more about ophthalmology studies in your area through the UK Clinical Trials Gateway.