Pete Jones, PhD
Competition Sponsor: UK Research and Innovation
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness. It affects 1 in 50 people over 40 years old, all of whom must currently travel to hospital once or twice a year for vision checks. Over 1M such “monitoring” assessments are carried out by the NHS every year.
These hospital visits are not only inconvenient: they are unsustainable. Even before COVID, NHS backlogs meant that twenty patients a month were going blind due to delayed glaucoma appointments, and patient numbers are expected to double by 2030. Hospital-only monitoring is also insufficient for the 1 in 23 people with the most aggressive form of glaucoma. Such individuals are liable to experience sudden, irreversible sight loss between hospital appointments.
The solution is home-monitoring. If people could check their own vision at home, then sight loss could be detected more quickly, conveniently, and cheaply. People could choose to test their vision more frequently, or when they started to notice a change: allowing sight loss to be flagged and treated sooner. Lower risk patients could attend fewer hospital appointments: reducing unnecessary travel, and freeing up resources to focus on those most in need. And by testing vision at home, more time in the clinic could be spent talking to the doctor face-to-face.
That is why over the last eight years we have developed Eyecatcher: the world’s first validated vision test for glaucoma home-monitoring. The challenge now is to scale up Eyecatcher, and get it into the hands of patients, in a sustainable, cost-effective way.