Julian Jackson argues that researchers need to be more vocal about the clinical advances they are making in eye health.
Although there have been many breakthroughs and developments by the UK eye research community, I believe that eye research is still relatively unknown.
Moreover, it remains the best kept secret amongst the UK research community, sight loss charities, and eye health professionals.
This situation needs to rapidly change if we are to stand a chance of measurably improving the level of awareness around sight loss and developing sustainable additional funding streams into eye research.
This world of discovery, innovation and achievement needs to be personalised and introduced to potential donors and supporters in an engaging and compelling way so as to encourage them to become self-appointed ambassadors for eye research and spread the good news about its benefits far and wide.
Eye research does not have an immediately identifiable image or emotional pull. It is more of a “conceptual sell” and requires the research champions themselves to get out from behind their lab benches and celebrate the tremendous depth and breadth of eye research.
The message to the public should be focussed on how these champions are creating therapies and solutions to prevent, slow down and ultimately reverse sight loss.
These champions need to demystify their use of language and meet and greet the many millions in the UK who are blissfully unaware of the exceptional talent residing in our research community.
This presents a series of opportunities by the eye research community to shout from the roof tops about the incredible scientific progress made in the last 50 years.
Researchers need to reach out and engage the public in order to raise awareness of sight loss, its growing impact on our quality of life and the critical importance of funding eye research.
Secondly, to communicate to eye health professionals, advances in surgical procedures, developments in diagnostic equipment and devices to enhance functional vision.
But they also need to be encouraged to speak to their colleagues and hospital patients about the compelling necessity to continue to fund eye research. Patients also need to share their experiences of their point of diagnosis, clinical procedures and post-operative support with a view to improving clinical management and the quality of the experience for future patients.