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Quick and simple test for glaucoma celebrated as a Big Idea for the Future

Groundbreaking research from City University London is featured in a new report published as a part of Universities Week
by Hollie Jenkins

The report, which is being jointly published by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK, pulls together the leading research projects currently taking place across UK universities. Research from all fields, including science, social sciences, engineering, the arts and the humanities, was eligible to be included and the project was selected for inclusion from hundreds of submissions.

The Moorfields Motion Displacement Test (MMDT) is a flexible computer software program that provides a test of the field of vision for the detection of glaucoma. The current test is presented on a 15-inch laptop. 32 white lines are displayed on a grey background. The patient is asked to steadily at a central spot and click the computer mouse each time they see a line move.

The MMDT is the product of collaborative research between clinicians at Moorfields Eye Hospital and academic departments at the NIHR UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and City University London since 1999.

"We are delighted to have been included in this publication," says Dr Gay Mary Verdon-Roe, Senior Research Fellow to the Moorfields MDT project at the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. "The MMDT is a good example of translational research, where universities work together to improve the standard of care to patients. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness, but if the condition is diagnosed and treated early, blindness is preventable."

David Crabb, Professor of Statistics and Vision Research at City University London has been working on the development of the test. He says that glaucoma is a major problem that is often left undetected.

"Globally it is estimated that there are 65 million suffers, with at least 50 per cent of glaucoma cases being undiagnosed in the developed world and up to 95 per cent undiagnosed prevalence in parts of the developing world.

"Here in the UK, it is estimated that 500,000 people have glaucoma, and that of these 67 per cent aren't diagnosed. Given it can lead to eventual blindness, this is a significant health problem."

Current tests for glaucoma are expensive, bulky and can be influenced by cataract, which results in people being unnecessarily referred to hospital.

"The test is simple, quick and easy for patients to understand.

"This collaboration has involved a remarkable combination of visual scientists, ophthalmologists and mathematicians. It is an excellent example of different groups in different universities working with the NHS to translate an idea into something that might have a significant health impact," says Professor Crabb.

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair Elect of RCUK said of Big Ideas for the Future: "Research has an impact on all our lives. Whether it is a breakthrough in experimental science, or an invention that makes new things possible, or a project that leads us to understand better the strengths and weaknesses of our society, research is the key to the UK's growth, prosperity and wellbeing. Big Ideas for the Future showcases just some of the excellent research being carried out in UK universities that achieves these aims. It is vital we continue to support the talented individuals whose work makes a real difference."

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: "It is great to see this tradition of world-leading innovation continue and get an insight into the many inspiring and potentially-life changing projects currently being developed by our universities. I would like to congratulate Moorfields on their inclusion in the Big Ideas for the Future report, and wish them the best of luck with their research."

The publication of the report forms part of the second annual Universities Week, which takes place from 13-19 June 2011, and aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK's universities. Universities Week looks at the many different ways in which universities affect all of our lives - from supporting the economy, to working within local communities, to looking at how their research programmes could change our futures. Hundreds of events will be taking place around the country open to members of the public, as well as high-profile media coverage and activity across social media networks.

To download a full version of the report, please visit click here. For more information on Universities Week, visit

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