[Press and Public Relations] Causes of Eye Disease

February 2002

No 36

Approximately 200 million people in the world are either blind or have very poor vision; yet still the causes of some of the most common blinding diseases remain a mystery.

A University of Leicester public lecture will examine why epidemiologists have not yet been able to discover the causes of common eye conditions such as cataract, glaucoma or macular degeneration.

In his inaugural lecture as Professor of Ophthalmic Epidemiology, Professor John Thompson will look at what ophthalmic epidemiologists contribute to our understanding of eye disease by studying vision problems within large groups of people.  

Their work involves measuring the extent of eye disease, evaluating treatments and looking for a link between eye disease and genetic, environmental or lifestyle factors, such as diet and smoking.

Professor Thompson said:  “Visual impairment is a very disabling condition, particularly in countries where treatment is not readily available, or where there is no economic support for people who cannot work.

“The associations that arise in community studies ought to give us clues to the causes of eye disease.   However, although a lot of good work has been done evaluating treatments and measuring the number of people with different eye conditions, epidemiology has not yet helped discover the causes of several common eye conditions.”

His lecture, entitled Epidemiological Insights : Clues to the Causes of Eye Disease? will consider some of the many epidemiological studies, national and local, that have been run from the University of Leicester.

The examples will illustrate the areas in which ophthalmic epidemiology has made a positive contribution and will form the basis for a discussion of why ophthalmic epidemiology has, so far been unable to help identify the causes of many common blinding diseases.

The talk, Epidemiological Insights : Clues to the Causes of Eye Disease?” will take place on Tuesday 5 March 2002 at 5.30 pm in Lecture Theatre 1, Ken Edwards Building, University of Leicester main campus.   It is open to the public and free.

Note to editors:   Further information is available from John Thompson, Professor of Ophthalmic Epidemiology, University of Leicester, telephone 0116 252 3153, email john.thompson@le.ac.uk

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 19 February 2002 15:30
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