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2 June: A new research programme has launched today, with £3.5 million in funding from the Wellcome Trust and Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation. Poor vision, the world’s largest unmet disability, affects 2.2 billion people. ENGINE examines how an affordable, effective and widely-available treatment, glasses, can help achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals across the life course in the following ways:
Previous trials by this research team in China and India have highlighted the positive impact of vision correction on school performance and workplace productivity.
Led by Professor Nathan Congdon of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in the UK and Professor Rohit Khanna of the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in India, the multi-disciplinary ENGINE team draws from 29 collaborating institutions in six countries, ranging from schools of public health to government ministries, patient groups, companies and NGOs.
ENGINE (Eyecare Nurtures Good-health, Innovation, driviNg-safety and Education) is designed to leverage high-quality research results from four component studies to drive lasting policy change and achieve improved quality of life for people in low and middle-income countries.
The four research projects are:
CLEVER and STABLE are the first trials of their kind, examining how low-cost vision care can slow the pace of cognitive decline with aging and deliver safe roads in low-resource settings. Potential benefits of ENGINE extend far beyond the borders of participating countries:
James Chen, Chairman of the Chen Yet Sen Family Foundation, said: “700 years on from the invention of glasses, poor vision is still the largest unaddressed disability in the world, and getting worse. We will never be able to complete the Sustainable Development Goals unless this hurdle is faced. This research programme represents a watershed moment in proving the importance of addressing vision correction throughout the life course and development agenda.”
Professor Nathan Congdon of Queen’s University Belfast and Director of Research at Orbis International, the study’s principal investigator under a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award, said: “Decision-makers need high-quality evidence. Our previous trials showing glasses enhance school performance in China (“Seeing is Learning”) and workplace productivity in India (“PROSPER”) have spurred government and industry-led vision programmes around the world. ENGINE’s local partners in academia, civil society and government are well-placed to ensure this project drives similar policy action, changing lives and helping achieve the SDGs in these four countries and beyond.”