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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.

Please read our latest Newsletter

And our NEWS

Grateful thanks to Christopher and Sarah Saunders-Davies for the use of their lovely garden for our EYEland Fete on the 31 July 2022. Please see our 'Gallery' page for a photo.

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. Publication link.

The Pinnacle study details.

12 April 2022 Delighted to share a link to a University of Southampton page giving updated news of vision research as detailed by Professor Andrew Lotery. 

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 identififying 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 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.


Stargardt's disease

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


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 .  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.


Community Support

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 or telephone Ailsa Walter on 02380 599073.