Fight For Sight at Research at the Green Heart of Brum

Green Heart Festival 2

Dr Chloe Thomas and the team from the School of Biomedical Sciences tell us about their experience of public engagement at the Research at the Green Heart of Brum event.

The central location of the Research at the Heart of Brum event in the Green Heart and under Old Joe allowed us to engage a large number of students, staff and members of the public as they were passing through our beautiful campus.

Our activity was based upon research we’re undertaking in the School of Biomedical Science within the Institute of Clinical Sciences. Our research aims to develop eye drop therapies for Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD affects 600,000 people in the UK and due to an ageing population, the number of patients is expected to double to 1.3 million by 2050.

Our stall aimed to inform the public about what AMD is through using anatomical eye models, images of the back of the eye and an app which replicated the visual loss that patients with AMD endure.  We also discussed current treatment options for AMD, explaining that there are no treatments available for some forms of AMD and there is an urgent need for research to develop a treatment to prevent sight loss with AMD. Patients with an aggressive form AMD, currently have monthly injections of sight preserving drugs into the eye. Injections into the eye can be unpleasant for patients, expensive to the healthcare service (cost of the drug and clinical services) and poses a risk of complications such as infections. Due to an ageing population, AMD could have a massive economical and societal impact on the UK and globally. We are researching to develop an alternative treatment which can be self-administered at home as a topical eye drop, reducing visits to the hospital and uncomfortable injections for patients.

Funding from the PER team allowed us to develop our activity, which we will be able to re-use at future public engagement events (including Think Tank Lates in October). We really enjoyed joining other researchers from the University to talk about our research and its impact.