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St Paul’s Eye Unit’s charity, The Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness, has awarded a grant of £115,000 for the continuing support of the Liverpool Research Eye Bank.  We caught up with Dr Hannah Levis, a Lecturer at the Department of Eye and Vision Science, to ask why this grant is so important and what the money will be used for.

"The Liverpool Research Eye Bank has provided ocular tissue to multiple research groups within the department of Eye and Vision Science enabling them to carry out ground-breaking research."

Dr Hannah Levis

Dr Hannah Levis“A UK wide problem that hinders the capability and effectiveness of research into blindness is the availability of fresh human eye tissue. For research projects to be successful, researchers rely on obtaining unprocessed eye tissue that has a post-mortem time of preferably less than 24 hours.

“To overcome these problems, the Department of Eye and Vision Science, at the University of Liverpool, established the Liverpool Research Eye Bank (LREB) in 2011. The LREB is a joint venture between The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust and The University of Liverpool.  The LREB team work closely with the Liverpool Eye Donation Centre at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital with the aim of increasing eye donations for research and also transplantation purposes so that every potential donor has the opportunity to donate their eyes.

“The Liverpool Research Eye Bank has provided ocular tissue to multiple research groups within the department of Eye and Vision Science enabling them to carry out ground-breaking research uncovering the causes of eye disease as well as developing new cell and drug based therapies.

“This is the 4th phase of funding that The Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness has provided. The grant will enable a technician to be funded for three years for the LREB and also includes consumables. The technician's responsibilities will include retrieving donor eyes, distributing tissues and processing accompanying paperwork in line with Human Tissue Authority guidelines. We already have a waiting list of researchers at the University of Liverpool and from other universities within the UK waiting for fresh tissue so funding for this position is vital."

"Ophthalmology in Liverpool has a strong reputation for pioneering treatment and research; the creation of the Liverpool Research Eye Bank underlines the quality and commitment to tackling world blindness. This fits with the aim of the Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness which is to support research that will lead to new clinical treatments being pioneered."

Dr Hannah Levis

Stephanie Slater MBE with Dr Levis when she the Liverpool Research Eye BankStephanie Slater MBE with Dr Levis when she visited the Liverpool Research Eye Bank“The establishment of the LREB is contributing significantly to the pipeline of translational research and has substantially strengthened the core infrastructure of academic ophthalmology in Liverpool. This has been a long standing strategic aim of the Foundation. In 2009/2010 a strategic review of academic ophthalmology identified a critical deficiency of human eye tissue for research. The development of a research eye bank was identified as one approach to resolving this issue. In 2011 the Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness launched an appeal for the establishment of the first university based Research Eye Bank. A substantial amount for this appeal was received by an existing warm supporter. The LREB has already been a success.” 

To find out more about donating eyes for research you can contact Dr Levis h.levis@liverpool.ac.uk

 

  • You can register to be a donor for transplantation, here
  • To learn more about why eye donations for transplant reasons are so vital to those affected by sight loss click here
  • To learn about the Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness click here