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Funding shortfall for eye research

Research funding is urgently needed in the race to halt the growing number of people suffering macular disease – the UK’s leading cause of sight loss.

Macular disease affects more people than Alzheimer’s, yet many people remain unaware of what it is and who is affected.

According to a survey commissioned by the charity, Eye Health UK, only 41% of us are even aware of the condition, despite one million people in Britain living with it, and around 200 more people being diagnosed every day.

Imagine losing the ability to make out colours or recognise family

Macular disease reduces your ability to see colours or make out fine detail. People affected are often unable to drive, read, watch TV or recognise the faces of their closest friends and family.

There are several forms of macular disease, with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) being the most common (affecting 600,000 people). Typically, AMD affects people from the age of 55, and the risk of developing it increases with age. By the age of 90 it is estimated to affect one in five people.

Rarer forms of macular disease can affect younger people

Katie Berrill was just 31 when she was diagnosed with macular disease.

At a routine eye test last year, she was devastated to hear she could lose her sight.

“My whole life had changed in a day,” she said.

“I just remember going home and breaking down, I cried so much I literally couldn’t breathe. I went into shock for a few days, I couldn’t eat or sleep. My biggest fear was not being able to see my little boy’s face.”

By 2050 the number of people with macular disease is expected to double.

1 in 3 know someone with the disease

Cathy Yelf, Chief Executive of the Macular Society, says: “Macular disease is largely incurable and untreatable and a diagnosis can leave people feeling depressed, isolated and uncertain about their future.

“People describe losing their sight as being similar to a bereavement and we have seen first-hand the impact it can have on their lives.

“One in three of us know someone with the disease and we want to continue to raise awareness, so we can keep funding vital research, which will one day lead us to a cure.”

Investment required for new and existing research

Investment into the prevention and treatment of the condition is vital. Clinical trials are ongoing, with some promising results, but the scope and pace mean the outlook is bleak for this and even future generations to come.

For information about the Macular Society’s work supporting those affected by macular disease and research into the condition visit

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