How healthy is the future of eye health?

With COVID-19 affecting so many areas of our lives, Helen Gilbert looks at the impact the pandemic is having on optometric and ophthalmological research.

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Is the future of eye health and vision sciences research hanging in the balance? In July, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) expressed “deep concern” about the impact of COVID-19 on this field and warned the interruption would likely “exacerbate existing health inequalities”.

Its paper, Mitigating the Impact of Covid-19 on Academic Ophthalmology and Ophthalmic Research cautioned that it would not be feasible to resume all interrupted ophthalmic research, “due to the shortfall in funding or delays in research activities that cannot be overcome”.

“Inevitably this will leave gaps in scientific evidence to inform clinical practice, service provision and policies,” it stated.

Encouragingly, some COVID-19 specific-research has been accelerated. The Health Research Authority has implemented “a fast-track process to review new studies and amendments to existing studies, often within a few days of application”, according to its website.   

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