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Clinical ophthalmology and vision research

A recent one day meeting hosted by the Wellcome Trust in London (June, 1997) was aimed at predicting the future of vision and ophthalmic research as the millennium beckons, and indirectly examined the relation between vision research and clinical ophthalmology. An introduction (Forrester, Aberdeen) outlining the current perceived areas of need was followed by four overview presentations on broad research areas of importance to ophthalmology: aging and diabetes (Hammes, Giessen), genetics (Wright, Edinburgh), infection and immunology (Streilein, Boston), and visual psychophysics (Zeki, London). During the second session, research projects by vision research training fellows funded by the Trust were presented. The impact of aging was universally agreed to have assumed greater importance in recent years while the role of molecular genetics in both understanding and eventually providing treatments for diseases of the eye was highlighted as the way forward. However, the effects of infectious diseases, both new and old, were considered to comprise a regrettable persistent threat to ocular health, not so much because of lack of research but more because of lack of provision of health care in developing countries. Indeed, the continuing lead position of cataract as the major cause of worldwide blindness was cited as an example of failure of adequate health service provision.

Of interest to clinicians and researchers was discussion of the perceived difficulties in coordinating ophthalmic and vision research with clinical training programmes, particularly now that the training of ophthalmologists has been overhauled in the UK. Many of the observations made not only applied to UK research but were also experienced …

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