I’ve been in post about a year now and was appointed when the theme started in 2010. Before then only one patient was recruited to NIHR adopted ophthalmology trials in 2009/10. For 2010/11 we’ve already recruited 40 patients and we’re seeing the number of patients nearly double every six months as the number of studies we have increase.
On the commercial side of things we’re concentrating on trials that help people with the most common visual impairment. We’ve already seen treatments for wet macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy really improve in the last few years with the introduction of anti-VEGF agents. We’re now looking at how we improve the delivery of these treatments and how we can better treat dry macular degeneration, which is a much more common problem but has fewer treatment options.
The Theme specialises in a number of different areas. Personally, my own research focuses on using existing technology to develop new and novel therapies. There’s been so many technological advances in imaging in the last few years but there’s currently very little interface with medicine. So I’m using at current technology, such as multi-spectral cameras and game technology, and seeing how they can be adapted using our own software to treat patients. By doing this, we’re aiming to diagnose and treat vision problems faster and more accurately.
Using this technology can also help with diagnosing problems in children. Because vision tests require the child to sit with their head still for quite a long time – and we all know that is very difficult for them to do – it can be very difficult, and at times impossible to get a proper reading. This technology gives them something interesting to concentrate on and enable us to get a proper reading.
We’re also investigating better ways to monitor patients’ vision. This could mean them testing themselves at home via a mobile device or at a GP surgery rather than coming into hospital. This would save time and money for both the patient and the NHS and be a far more accurate way of testing their vision. We’re looking at how we can join together the many aspects of testing vision to improve the service patients receive as well as the treatments we can offer.
We’re very keen to work with companies who are interested in developing new treatments or from patients who would like to take part in research so please get in touch.
Mr Tariq Aslam is GM CLRN’s Theme Lead for Ophthalmology. He is a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, which is part of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He is also an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester.