Read the latest news from our vision science laboratories, related clinical matters and find out how generous gifts help our vital studies.
Research supported by Gift of Sight is undertaken in the University of Southampton and informed by conditions seen in patients in Southampton Eye Unit.
Gift of Sight Newsletters are produced three times a year. Hear about our latest research news and details of fundraising activity. Copies can be sent by post, email or as an audio version on a USB stick for visually impaired supporters. Please sign up for your copy today!
The latest Newsletter and previous versions can be found here.
Gift of Sight - some of our news and events in 2022 and 2023
6 November 2023 - University of Southampton researchers have played a key role in the trial of a potential new treatment for a severe eye disease - Acanthamoeba Keratitis (AK). Dr Parwez Hossain was involved in the study, which has now been published in the journal 'Ophthalmology': The Orphan Drug for Acanthamoeba Keratitis (ODAK) trial: PHMB (polihexanide) 0.08% and placebo versus PHMB 0.02% and propamidine 0.1% - ScienceDirect
10 October 2023 - Jay Self and Helena were invited by Science Direct to put together an expert opinion piece to help paediatricians manage children presenting with symptoms of nystagmus. How do you manage a child presenting with apparently isolated nystagmus? - ScienceDirect
24 September 2023 - Team Gift of Sight completed the 'Test Way Walk' in 8.5 hours, raising more than £1300 for eye research. Thank you to everyone who donated and supported us throughout the event.
25 August 2023 - Prof Andrew Lotery has another paper published from the PINNACLE study: Comparison of Novel Volumetric Microperimetry Metrics in Intermediate Age-Related Macular Degeneration: PINNACLE Study Report 3 | TVST | ARVO Journals.
3 August 2023 - Dr Arjuna Ratnayaka and PhD student Rebecca Miller have released a paper, describing how changes to lysosomal physiology and structure underpins damage to retinal pigment epithelium cells, causing eventual blindness. Read the full paper here: Impaired lysosomes in the retinal pigment epithelium play a central role in the degeneration of the neuroretina
17 July 2023 - Thank you to Carol Gerrey and Testvale Squares for a fantastic fundraising Hoedown at Foxlease, Lyndhurst. Despite the inclement weather, everyone danced the night away with line dancing and square dancing and a lovely live music interlude from Harry Kemish. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who attended for your support.
12 July 2023 - Prof Andrew Lotery has a paper published entitled 'Large-scale multitrait genome-wide association analyses identify hundreds of glaucoma risk loci'.
7 July 2023 - Prof Andrew Lotery has contributed to a paper published on 'Central macular choriocapillaris impairment as a manifestation of microvascular disease in eyes with subretinal drusenoid deposits'.
6/7 July 2023 - Adams Morey, the leading supplier of trucks across the south coast, raised a fantastic £250 for Gift of Sight during their truck racing day at Thruxton Races. See our Events gallery for more photos.
22 June 2023 - Amazing news from Dr Jörn Lakowski on being awarded a grant of £548,535 by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. This huge investment will work towards a fuller understanding of human cone photoreceptor development.
21 June 2023 - Congratulations to Dr Adnan Khan, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Ophthalmology at University of Southampton, who has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholar award to undertake research at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. A huge achievement and we are very proud of his research at Southampton that has led him to this moment in his career.
16 June 2023 - A huge thank you to everyone who attended Little Court Garden Party last night. It was a beautiful evening in stunning surroundings and we are very grateful to everyone who supported the event.
14 June 2023 - A team of four including David Simpson, Martin Gorman, Simon Martel and James Beaver rode from St Malo to Cahors covering 500 miles in the 2022 CAC Cahors Challenge. The route took the riders through Angers and Limoges and were pleased to present a cheque to Gift of Sight for £2,500.
5 June 2023 - We're thrilled with the uptake from the press relating to the app for children with amblyopia (lazy eye), developed collaboratively between medicine, maths and Winchester School of Art. Read the University of Southampton press release here
1 June 2023 - BBC News covers the story about the launch of the app here.
30 May 2023 Great news of the launch of the App for children with amblyopia, encouraging them to wear their eye patch and play games to improve their vision. Read the University of Southampton press release here.
25 May 2023 - We were delighted to show HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mr Nigel Atkinson, and Mrs Christine Atkinson around the University of Southampton vision science research laboratories yesterday. Dr Jörn Lakowski and PhD student Catherine Robertson explained their human stem cell project investigating the reasons for rod and cone cell death. Professor Andrew Lotery gave a presentation detailing many other vital studies being undertaken in Southampton.
17 May 2023 - Crowdfunding for the new Amblios Club app is now live! This app has been developed in collaboration with paediatric eye research led by Jay Self, and mathematicians and game designers at the University of Southampton. It is designed to help children succeed with patching treatment for amblyopia. Find out more here.
10 May 2023 - Rebecca Miller and Arjuna Ratnayaka have a paper published in the Neural Regeneration Research publication entitled Impaired lysosomes in the retinal pigment epithelium play a central
role in the degeneration of the neuroretina
01 May 2023 - Professor Andrew Lotery, Ellie Keeling, Rebecca Kaye, Becca Miller and Arjuna Ratnayaka spent time exchanging ideas and sharing their University of Southampton research with other scientists and clinicians from around the world at the ARVO conference (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology)
25 April 2023 - Can you hold a tea party fit for a King? We are inviting volunteers to raise funds by hosting a tea party to celebrate the Coronation. We can't wait to see your results!
04 April 2023 - Grateful thanks and congratulations to Team Lotery for raising funds for Gift of Sight on Sunday at Southampton ABP Half Marathon. Prof Lotery's son, Chris crossed the line in 90 minutes with Prof and daughter Lizzie finishing in under two hours.
27 March 2023 - Rebecca Kaye gave a fascinating talk to the Retina UK Information and Support Group this morning on inherited sight loss and her research studies. Thank you so much to Adrienne and Steve from the Hampshire support group for hosting this session, it was lovely to meet everyone there!
16 March 2023 - Team Lotery are doing it again! Fundraising for Gift of Sight by running the ABP Southampton half marathon. Please donate at their justgiving link here.
15 March 2023 - Excited to share the news of a new published paper funded by Gift of Sight, under the direction of Jessica Teeling, Arjuna Ratnayaka and Professor Andrew Lotery. A laser-induced mouse model of progressive retinal degeneration with central sparing displays features of parafoveal geographic atrophy | Scientific Reports (nature.com)
15 March 2023 - Great news received this week from 'wet' AMD patient, Russ, who is featured in our video on our home page: “After about 11 years and some 95 injections, I've now been discharged! I had my last injection about 1 year ago. Since then, they have scanned me at increasing intervals and have now decided that the fluid has not returned”.
06 March 2023 - We're pleased to hear Jay Self and Helena Lee shared their research at the ISER conference in Australia, presenting news on nystagmus and their paediatric research.
01 March 2023 - Ailsa gave a talk to the Romsey Abbey Womens' Group to share the news of the vision research taking place at the University of Southampton. Thank you for the warm welcome, as always!
14 February 2023 - Professor Lotery was been Awarded an International Travel Grant to present "Exploring Healthy Retinal Aging With Counterfactual Generative Adversarial Networks" at the 46th Macular Society Annual meeting 2023
08 February 2023 - Congratulations to our Gift of Sight-funded PhD student, Catherine Robertson, who has passed her one-year viva for her vision research studies. Amazing work so far and huge thanks to the generous legacy donor who made her studentship possible with the University of Southampton.
26 January 2023 - Congratulations to Faye Horner on winning the Challenge Cup at the Wessex Opthalmology awards.
04 January 2023 - Walk for Wiggly Eyes completed his mission! What a way to kick off the New Year and raise money and awareness for nystagmus.
9 November 2022
If you're interested in the latest news from the vision research team, you will enjoy the Beating Blindness online lecture. This took place on 9 November 2022 featuring speakers: Professor Andrew Lotery, Associate Professor Helena Lee and Dr Jörn Lakowski, with a Q&A session hosted by Mr Jay Self.
A recording of the lecture can be viewed in full here: Beating Blindness 2022
16 June 2022 Papers published as mentioned in our June 2022 Newsletter
Healthy people with genetic risk factors for AMD have thinner retinal layers, suggesting that the disease starts much earlier in life than previously suspected. This work has been published here.
The Pinnacle study details.
4 April 2022 Professor Andrew Lotery has contributed to 4 papers published in March this year. These include:
1. A paper showing what the vision patients with wet macular degeneration is after 7 years of follow up and how vision strongly links to the structural appearance of the retina. Published in Ophthalmology Retina.
2. A paper describing the natural history of patients with mutations in a gene that causes Leber Congenital Amaurosis and Cone-Rod dystrophy and identifies which patients might improve best with new treatments such as gene therapy. Published in Ophthalmology Retina.
3. A paper identifying how specific complement genetic mutations makes the retina thin in patients with macular degeneration. This was published in Human Molecular Genetics.
4. The fourth was led by my colleague Dr Arjuna Ratnayaka and funded specifically by Gift of Sight. It showed that a high fat western diet causes macular degeneration features in an animal model. This was published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
30 March 2022 Log in to Dr Arjuna Ratnayaka's interview with Faculti detailing research about the in-vitro cell model of intracellular protein aggregation in the retinal pigment epithelium, which was developed in his laboratory. The model recapitulates a major disease pathway linked with irreversible sight-loss in age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
02 February 2022 Paper published in Stem Cells describing 'Generation of a cone photoreceptor specific GNGT2 reporter line in human pluripotent stem cells. Observations indicate that human cones undergo significant migratory activity during the course of differentiation in vitro. Read the paper here.
26 January 2022 Paper published in EYE proving that it is possible, and may be worthwhile, to use hand-held OCT to image children with down syndrome’s maculae. Please read the publication here.
16 January 2022 Paper published in Genomic Medicine proving that very common population variants can combine to cause mild Albinism which explains why it is more common than previously thought. This means that up to 25% more cases can be diagnosed than previously, on the NHS and worldwide. Please read here.
07 December 2021 Paper published in Scientific Reports giving details that participants in the UK Biobank with no history of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) had evidence of retinal thinning if they carried AMD genetic risk factors. Read the full paper here.
25th November 2021 Rich Curtis and his team at The Portsmouth Arms, Hatch Warren have had a busy year since we visited them. We've just received the AMAZING sum of £4839.70 which brings the total raised by the pub to £8839.70. This fabulous amount will be a huge help to our paediatric eye research team in the University of Southampton. Research is a bit of a 'dry' subject but many children will benefit from the studies being carried out by our scientists.
19 November 2021 Dr Arjuna Ratnayaka has been awarded a PhD studentship by the Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust. The project will investigate the cellular mechanisms underpinning Stargardt disease; an autosomal recessive disorder and the most common macular dystrophy, with onset from childhood, in early or late adult life. The project will utilize induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients to test a new treatment for preventing damage to retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.
10 November 2021 AMD paper published. The study showed that blood levels of TNF-alpha (a cytokine) may help identify patients that do not respond to anti-VEGF injections.
02 September 2021 Raising awareness of the lack of funding for eye research.
Grateful thanks to Russell Tribe, a patient who has 'wet' age-related macular degeneration for helping our scientists put together a document to highlight the lack of funding into eye disease. Please watch the support video here.
01 July 2021 A paper submitted by our research group has been published in the journal Human Mutation. Using a cohort of 468 patients with geographic atrophy (the advanced form of dry macular degeneration), to investigate the occurrence of a gene mutation of a protein that is used by the immune system. A mutation in the Complement Factor I (CFI) gene is known to increase the risk of advanced macular degeneration. A link to the publication is given here. This is exciting news, as recovery of normal CFI protein levels (which are lowered by the mutation) may be possible in the future, through gene therapy or an oral supplement.
22 June 2021 Thanks to the ladies of Longstock & Leckford WI for a warm reception and lots of interest to our Gift of Sight talk this evening. Please ask me back for an update!
18 June 2021 Grateful thanks to Rich Curtis at The Portsmouth Arms, Hatch Warren for donating his £500 Matthew Clark Community Pub Award to support paediatric eye research.
03 June 2021 Delighted to share the YouTube footage of our 'Beating Blindness' Lecture held on the 27 May 2021.
18 May 2021 Dr Arjuna Ratnayaka and colleagues are presenting their new findings on 'Defects in Cargo Trafficking etc' at the Wellcome Conference on Vesicle Trafficking Pathways in Neurodegeneration this week.
18 March 2021 A collaborative study into Dry Eyes conducted by Assoc Prof Parwez Hossein shows that 47% of participants felt that the condition impacted on their ability to carry out daily activities and on their work productivity.
26 February 2021 New findings by the Ratnayaka group has shown how the Alzheimer’s-linked amyloid beta (Ab) proteins that collect in the ageing retina can contribute to sight-loss. This study provides new insights into how the retina can become damaged in age-related macular degeneration. Anti-Ab treatments can therefore be tested in the future, which may prove useful in preventing retinal damage by these toxic molecules. The study was funded by the NC3Rs and published in the journal Cells. Huge congratulations to Dr Savannah Lynn on this excellent result and to everyone named on the publication.
26 January 2021 Professor Andrew Lotery is pleased to be part of a team that has shown that air pollution is linked to increased risk of AMD as reported in the Guardian Newspaper.
26 January 2021 We’d like to share our heartfelt thanks for support from ExxonMobil Fawley, kindly sponsoring the printing costs of our Gift of Sight Newsletters for a further year. They have also generously donated £1000 towards the purchase of two iPads for the CHEETAH study, helping children with amblyopia have their vision tested at home. We’re really grateful for such amazing and ongoing help. THANK YOU
10 January 2021 Thanks to the Freemasons of the Chapter of Maturity who have kindly donated £1000 to support our vision research studies. We were nominated to receive this gift by a member who has been receiving ongoing treatment at Southampton Eye Unit. Such a very kind deed.
22 December 2020 Grateful thanks to the Southampton office of BDB Pitmans LLP for applying for the generous donation made through the BDB Pitmans Charitable Trust. Your ongoing support is very much appreciated.
17 December 2020 Thanks to The Hendy Foundation for their support in purchasing two iPads to help children with amblyopia. A study being run by Dan Osborne (Research Orthoptist) will enablel parents and carers to be taught to test their vision at home,. A great saving of time for the children and parents and avoiding visits to overstretched eye clinics.
10 December 2020 Congratulations to Prof Parwez Hossain and his clinical team in Southampton Eye Unit. They have studied potential ways to develop new therapies to limit the sight-threatening tissue destruction that can occur with a corneal infection by using simpler and faster methods of diagnosis. Please read the full article
20 November 2020 Congratulations to Dr Ellie Keeling on her paper published in The International Journal of Molecular Sciences detailing how a 3D-Reconstructed Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells Provide Insights into the Anatomy of the Outer Retina. This is Ellie's third publication this year and we're very proud to have her in our University of Southampton Vision Sciences group.
16 November 2020 A request by Jay Self for people to join in a survey relating to Nystagmus. Please access the survey here.
15 October 2020 A very generous donor has committed the sum of £56,000 to enable the move of our human stem cell laboratory to a new space in the labs. The need for very expensive and time-consuming experiments needs dedicated equipment, freezers, reagents and microscopes. These will be used for the one purpose of 'growing' human stem cells in dishes to support research into diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration and other conditions needing new treatments. Testing can take place in laboratory conditions before the move to human testing, enabling our scientists to move away from using animals in research. This is an amazing gift which will hugely benefit our group!
05 October 2020 Congratulations to Dr Ellie Keeling. Her paper relating to the effect of an unhealthy diet on vision (see 28 March below) has been selected as the overall winner of the overall Academy of Medical Sciences Research Prize.
30 September 2020 Congratulations to Dr Ellie Keeling on the publication of a paper relating to age-related macular degeneration detailing how an accumulation of Lipofuscin (undegraded photoreceptors) in the retina is characteristic of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Details of her research here.
21 September It’s National Eye Health Week (21 – 27 September). Prof Parwez Hossain and team in Southampton Eye Unit have a paper published relating to contact lens-related microbial keratitis (CLMK) which causes real problems for patients and healthcare services. Do read and share the key messages in this paper published in BMJ Open Ophthalmology.
20 August 2020 Now advertising to recruit a PhD student for the work mentioned below. Please apply through this link if you feel this research would suit your skills.
28 July 2020 Congratulations to Dr Arjuna Ratnayaka who has been awarded £100,000 from the UK Macular Society @MacularSociety to recruit a PhD student to study how pathogenic macromolecules aggregate inside retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells in the eye. These high-molecular-weight compounds cause cellular dysfunction, resulting in eventual atrophy of RPE cells associated with irreplaceable loss of overlying photoreceptors.
The PhD studentship, which will commence in the autumn, will study how these toxic macromolecules form, and whether boosting the cells’ proteolytic response can prevent RPE damage. Potential findings from this study could pave the way for developing new treatments for common blinding conditions such as age-related macular disease (AMD) as well as some rare retinal dystrophies.
24 July 2020 Sharing the latest Clinical Research Wessex (CRN) newsletter. Dan Osborne, one of our Research Orthoptists has shared details of his project studying children with amblyopia (lazy eye). He and Jay Self are hoping to encourage a 'testing at home' for these children to save numerous visits to clinic and time off work for parents and carers.
20 July 2020 Paper published regarding study into Sorsby Fundus Dystrophy., a rare autosomal dominant disease of the macula. Congratulations to our vision science team, colleagues in Finland and Dr Jenny Dewing in particular who has really brought this project forward.
03 June 2020 Worldwide open access to Publication of Management of nystagmus in children: a review of the literature and current practice in UK specialist services paper. PubMed
30 March 2020 Well done Dr Ellie Keeling on publication of a paper detailing how an unhealthy diet can affect the eyes of patients with age-related macular degeneration PubMed
24 January 2020 Paper published in The Lancet reflecting results of a trial into Central Serous Chorioretinopathy. Shared on Youtube too. Eplerenone has been used to treat patients but has side effects for some. After completion of the VICI study it is recommended that the drug is no longer prescribed for this condition as there are no benefits to be seen.
26 December 2019 Publication of a paper in PubMed detailing how children with nystagmus get very variable support and information currently in the UK. Jay Self and his team are keen to standardise the management and care for these children in a series of papers aimed to highlight the problem.
13 August 2019 Congratulations to Dan Osborne, who works as a research orthoptist in the paediatric clinic in Southampton Eye Unit, on being awarded a HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship 2019. Dan is the first orthoptist to receive this funding. He was also the winner of the first Gift of Sight Clinical Award and we'll look forward to following his career.
4 June 2019 Amazing new procedure for corneal transplants reported by Professor Parwez Hossain. Link to press release here.
28 March 2019 Congratulations to our team on the publication of a paper linking an unhealthy diet with eye disease.
A video from Dr Helena Lee, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology.
Helena Lee was recently a speaker at a hugely successful new TED-style event, AMSlive, organised by The Academy of Medical Sciences. We are delighted to share her talk here.
Research funding for study into early stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Professor Andrew Lotery has been successful grant application to the Wellcome Trust
The five-year research project will teach computers to analyse high resolution images of the inside of the eye to identify what eye changes appear in patients with AMD and identify the structural changes that lead to and are associated with cell degeneration in the retina in patients with early AMD.
A recent press release gives details of a clinical trial which is taking place in Southampton.
Stargardt’s disease, also known as Stargardt‘s macular dystrophy, affects the area of the retina called the macula and causes a reduction in central vision.
It is the most common form of juvenile macular degeneration and affects around one in 10,000 children who suffer a gradual decline in vision which leads to blindness in adulthood. The press release gives full details.
The study has been funded by the European Union.
If you would like to register your interest in this project please send an email to EyeResearch@uhs.nhs.uk
Albinism and Age-related macular degeneration
Mr Jay Self (Consultant Ophthalmologist) and members of the vision research team are interested in discovering why, to their knowledge, Albinism and Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have never been seen in the same patient, although AMD affects 1/3 of people over the age of 75.
Also the retina loses function in older animals with Albinism but, apparently, not in humans.
If anyone reading this post is aged over 60 and has Albinism, please contact Jay by email at J.E.Self@soton.ac.uk . If you know anyone who meets this criteria please do share our message with them and ask them to make contact with Jay. Thank you.
Congratulations to Mr Parwez Hossain
on being part of a team who won an award for participation in an interfaculty collaboration within the University of Southampton’s Network for AntiMicrobial Resistance & Infection Prevention (NAMRIP). The participants are from Electronic Engineering; Molecular Microbiology; Ophthalmology (Eye Unit) and Southampton University NHS Hospital Trust. It has produced a flourishing collaboration with Lighthouse in Kenya, and with the Christian Medical College (Vellore, India). The collaboration has developed a novel portable device, using the application of a technology known as electrical impedance, to identify different types of bacteria with no sample preparation and ‘instant’ detection from, literally, a drop of specimen.
Patients who attend Southampton Eye Unit are drawn from the whole of Hampshire and community support is very much appreciated.
Please visit our 'Events' page to see how you may be able to help us.
Would you like to help us? Can I come and speak to your Group or Club?
If you would like to become involved or simply want to find out more please make contact email@example.com or telephone Ailsa Walter on 02380 599073.