Eye and Vision
Ophthalmology research at the Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast has a long-standing international reputation which has been built around high-quality patient studies and clinical trials. Work focuses on understanding and treating sight-threatening retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy (DR), age-related macular degeneration (AMD) glaucoma and global eye-health research. This strand is focused on providing the best evidence for research methodology, systematic reviews, clinical trial methodology and conduct, imaging and image analysis, both in the context of local issues and national/international eye-health challenges.
The group of vision health researchers hold a distinctive and important position in UK eye research, working directly with Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine with the aim to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. Its success is underpinned by the combined effect of basic scientists and clinicians who are focused on the same retinal diseases and through multidisciplinary teamwork drive innovation and impact. Our investigator profile consists of academic ophthalmologists, optometrists, surgeons, pharmacists, nutritionists, physicists and NHS consultants who work closely together to advance understanding of retinal disease.
Queen’s is the most successful institution in the UK (per FTE academic) for ophthalmic trials and our clinical academics currently lead nine studies which will directly impact on NICE decision-making and NHS practice. These government-funded studies sit alongside commercialisation partnerships spanning the laboratory and clinical research areas and these have involved big pharma (Roche, Novartis, NovoNordisk), biotech companies and the creation of spin-out companies.
Academics in the ophthalmology arena have also brought significant reputational credit to Queen’s by being recipients of international awards, prizes, keynote lectures, editorial positions and hosts for large conferences such as the International Society for Eye Research (ISER 2018) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes-Eye Complications (EASDec 2018).
Within CPH, close links are held with the Belfast Ophthalmic Reading Centre, Central Administrative Research Facility (CARF) and NetwORC UK (https://www.networcuk.com/Home/About). Located in the Centre for Public Health, The Belfast Ophthalmic Reading Centre (BORC) and the Central Administrative Research Facility (CARF) provide grading, management services and academic input for grant funded studies led by the Reading Centre clinicians and for pharmaceutical sponsored clinical trials and external academic trials. Apart from their own activities, the BORC and CARF coordinate the activities of the Reading Centres Consortium in the UK (Moorfields, Belfast and Liverpool) for which Professor Tunde Peto is the current chair. They are part of a unique network structure, NetwORC UK, pooling the expertise of highly qualified and experienced personnel in the fields of clinical research, ophthalmic imaging and information technology.
CPH has also brought together an interdisciplinary team that allows for an expanded focus beyond understanding and documenting the efficacy of innovative eye care programs and treatments. Mixed-methods studies are now addressing the uptake, acceptability and advocacy related to sustainable programs to improve eye care, particularly in low-resource settings.
The Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group (CEV) will be relocated from the LSHTM to CPH, QUB in April 2021, funded by the NI R&D Division of the Public Health Agency. The relocation of CEV will complement the work of two other Cochrane Review Group editorial bases in CPH. It will sit within our activities relevant to the preparation, maintenance and dissemination of systematic reviews, research into their methods and a teaching programme that includes courses on systematic reviews for post-graduate students and others in Northern Ireland and beyond.
Links and Expertise:
In May 2019 Professor Usha Chakravarthy was recognised as a World Expert in Macular Degeneration having been placed in the top 0.1% of scholars writing about Macular Degeneration over the past 10 years.
In addition, QUB has been recognised as the second leading institution in the UK for diabetic retinopathy and AMD with a number of the Eye and Vision Team recognised among the UK’s top 25 experts in Diabetes complications
Via the Reading Centre/CARF, we have over 20 trials on 4 continents.
PPI - we run an ongoing programme with the Macula Society, RNIB, Diabetes-UK and we have regular meetings with patients. Currently, we hold Zoom/phone meetings with up to 100 patients. All our grants have full PPI activities and two staff sit on the QUB PPI working group.
For further information please visit the link below:
Core Academic Staff
- Professor Augusto Azuara-Blanco
- Professor Usha Chakravarthy
- Professor Nathan Congdon
- Professor Tunde Peto
- Professor Gianni Virgili
- Dr Ruth Hogg
- Dr Ving Fai Chan
Postdoctoral Research Fellows