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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 October, 2003, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Centre has an eye on the future
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness
Medical scientists from two north universities have joined forces to form a national centre of excellence for research on age-related eye disorders.

Old people suffering from visual problems - such as macular degeneration - should benefit from work carried out at the new Centre for Age-Related Eye Research in the North East of England (NorthEast CARE).

It has been established by ophthalmology experts at Universities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Durham, and is believed to by the first of its kind in the UK.

NorthEast CARE will carry out cutting-edge research into eye diseases such as cataract, glaucoma and macular degeneration to develop new treatments and preventative measures.

Research will also focus on the use of stem-cells to repair damage to the surface of the eye.

'Exciting initiative'

Professor Roy Quinlan from Durham University and Co-Director of NorthEast CARE said: "The mixture of molecular and cell biologists, vision neuroscientists, experts in the field of ageing, and clinicians which the Centre will bring together is exactly what is required to tackle these complex problems.

"Having such a team will also help us to get resources including an Eye Tissue Bank and other scientific support which we need for this exciting initiative".

Mike Clarke, Co-Director of NorthEast CARE and Reader in Ophthalmology at Newcastle University said: "Very large numbers of older people are affected by visual disorders.

"Almost a third of people aged over 75 years suffer from a disease of the retina called macular degeneration, and 10% of those affected will become blind.

"Over 250 000 cataract removals are performed in the UK each year.

"Despite the huge impact of these and other visual disorders on the quality of life of older people, there are few centres devoted to the ageing eye and NorthEast CARE is addressing this deficiency."

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