Blindness and vision problems in children | Action Medical Research

Blindness and vision problems in children

There are different causes of blindness in children. Retinopathy of prematurity – or ROP – is a major cause of vision loss and blindness in young children. Babies who are born very prematurely, whose birth weight is very low, are most at risk.

Children born with a rare illness called brittle cornea syndrome have fragile eyes which puts them at risk of severe vision problems and even blindness.

Some children have eyesight problems called visual field defects, which restrict their field of view. Children who have had a stroke, a head injury or meningitis are at risk of suffering visual field defects, as are children with cerebral palsy who were born prematurely, children with the eye disease glaucoma and children who are taking certain medications, including a treatment for epilepsy. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to diagnose visual field defects in children.

We are funding research into blindness to help children like Jack, pictured.

Helping children in special schools to overcome vision problems

Research date: 1 March 2016 - 28 February 2019
Grant amount: £189,315.00

Over 100,000 children and young people attend special schools in the UK.1-4 They are more likely than other children to have vision problems, but evidence suggests their problems often go unrecognised and untreated.5 Professor Kathryn Saunders, of Ulster University, is investigating the benefits of assessing children’s vision within the familiar...

Down syndrome: the mysterious benefits of bifocal glasses

Research date: 1 July 2015 - 13 August 2018
Grant amount: £169,053.00

Around 750 babies with Down syndrome are born each year in the UK.1 Many go on to have problems with their near vision, meaning they need glasses.2 Parents and teachers of some children have noticed they seem to do much better with bifocals than expected, and the children themselves say they prefer bifocals. Dr Maggie Woodhouse, of Cardiff University is...

Cataracts: could a new approach to surgery improve children’s vision?

Research date: 1 April 2014 - 30 September 2017
Grant amount: £191,577.00

Around 200 babies are born with cataracts each year in the UK.1 They can develop blurred or misty vision, or even go blind. Indeed estimates suggest up to 210,000 children worldwide have lost their sight to cataracts.2-4 Surgery can restore children’s vision if done soon enough, but its effects aren’t perfect. Professor Colin McCaig, of the...

Blindness: how better diagnosis of a rare illness might protect children’s sight

Research date: 6 June 2012 - 31 March 2015
Grant amount: £96,206.00

Children born with a rare illness called brittle cornea syndrome have fragile eyes, meaning common accidents such as being poked in the eye or hit by a ball can rupture their eyeball and leave them blind. Professor Graeme Black of the University of Manchester is researching the genetic causes of this rare illness in the hope of improving diagnosis. Early...

Other related information

Gordon’s rumgumption - How a legacy gift helped little Jack and his family

Posted: 26 August 2015 09:47 am
Gifts in wills are vital to Action and can have a massive impact on generations to come. One such legacy helped unlock the causes of a condition that can cause blindness. Back in 2004 we received a letter from Gordon Walkinshaw of Lochwinnoch in Paisley. Gordon suffered from a genetic condition and told us that his dream was to make a real difference...

Our fellowship scheme is 40!

Posted: 13 March 2013 15:21 pm
Action Medical Research has been awarding prestigious fellowships to promising doctors and researchers for 40 years. The scheme helps to develop future leaders in children’s research. As Research Training Fellows, these high-fliers carry out a key piece of research to help children and undertake training to develop their research expertise. Two...

West Sussex charity celebrates 60 years of investing in top medical research to help prevent the suffering of sick babies and children

Posted: 5 January 2012 10:50 am
Horsham-based children’s charity, Action Medical Research, is celebrating investing more than £100 million into vital medical research over the past 60 years, which has led to some key scientific breakthroughs to help reduce the suffering of sick babies and children. The charity was originally founded in 1952, by Duncan Guthrie, in his quest...

London researchers given more than £450,000 to help sick babies and children

Posted: 3 November 2011 15:33 pm
Three leading research teams in London have been given more than £450,000 in grants by children’s charity Action Medical Research, to carry out studies which aim to help reduce the suffering of sick babies and children. The charity has been supporting significant medical breakthroughs for nearly 60 years, and has today announced the grants...

Saving sight in young eyes

Posted: 1 March 2011 13:08 pm
Children born very early with a low birth weight are at high risk of developing retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which is a major cause of vision loss and blindness. Advances in neonatal care mean more premature babies are surviving these days, so there has been a resurgence of this disease. Most ROP studies have looked at the...

Belfast researchers granted almost £125,000 to investigate blindness condition in babies

Posted: 22 February 2011 14:25 pm
Researchers in Belfast have just been awarded a grant of almost £125,000 by Action Medical Research – the leading UK-wide medical research charity dedicated to helping babies and children.The charity has been supporting significant medical breakthroughs for nearly 60 years, and today announced its latest round of funding to top research institutes at...

Research suggests new ways to prevent blindness

Posted: 24 March 2010 15:41 pm
Mucous membrane pemphigoid, or MMP, causes the body’s moist skin linings (mucous membranes) to blister. When it affects the eyes, up to 30 per cent of patients become blind due to the formation of scar tissue.Although MMP most commonly affects elderly people, children can also suffer and its effects are irreversible. Thanks to work by Dr Valerie Saw...

Detecting eye disease before blindness sets in

Posted: 1 February 2008 00:00 am
Up to 300,000 people in the UK are blind or partially sighted because of AMD; diabetic retinopathy affects nearly everyone with Type I diabetes and up to 60 per cent of those with Type II. Fortunately, the last few years have seen the launch of some promising new treatments, but crucial to their success is early diagnosis. A project team led by Professor...

Blind from birth

Posted: 1 March 2005 00:00 am
It is a result of recessive mutations in certain genes, which have to be present in both the father and mother and come together by chance, leaving the child without an essential component for their vision.There are currently no treatments for LCA. The disease happens because the photo receptors, the light sensors in the eye, do not work. These consist of...

Blindness in later life -- understanding why it happens

Posted: 1 June 2003 00:00 am
Dr Paul Goldsmith, Specialist Registrar in Neurology based at Cambridge University, has completed a three-year project funded by Action Medical Research studying the mechanisms behind the degeneration of the retina. If you imagine the eye as a camera, complete with a lens, then the retina at the back of the eye would be the film. It registers shades...
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