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DIT and Topcon on mission to fight blindness

Posted: 16 November, 2017

A new state-of-the-art Vision Science lab, which was launched in DIT Grangegorman today, will facilitate significant eye health research and the fight against blindness. The Lab has received €250,000 in philanthropy from Topcon, a global leader in ophthalmic precision instruments.

Professor Brian Norton, Dr Ray O'Connor, Senior Manager Executive of Topcon and Her Excellency Ambassador Myoshi of Japan pictured at the opening of Topcon Vision Science Labs

Dr Ray O’Connor of Topcon travelled from California for the launch, which was also attended by Her Excellency Ambassador Myoshi of Japan.   

According to Professor James Loughman, Director of the DIT Centre for Eye Research Ireland (CERI), there is a very significant increase in eye disease globally.  This is due to a range of factors such as people spending more time on computers and smart technology; longer education cycles; spending less time in outdoor activity, but also longer lifespans.  The Topcon Vision Science Lab provides researchers in CERI with the latest in technology and equipment to pioneer advances in eye health. 

Professor James Loughman, Director of the DIT Centre for Eye Research Ireland (CERI) explains the work taking place in Topcon Vision Science Labs

Dr Ray O’Connor, Senior Manager Executive of Topcon, said the company was delighted to work with DIT colleagues and to support what is vital health research. “The research taking place in these cutting-edge labs on the Grangegorman campus will be crucial in developing preventative measures that enhance our health prognosis. Protecting and prolonging the gift of sight is a great contribution to long-term well-being in our population.  This is an example of industry and academia collaborating for a common good and my colleagues and I in Topcon are glad to be working with DIT on this.”

The team at CERI is currently conducting two ground-breaking clinical trials: one exploring the relationship between diet and glaucoma and the other investigating myopia control in children.


Dr Ray O'Connor, Topcon receives a demonstration of the high-tech equipment available in the new labs

Through his research on myopia, Professor Loughman feels that its threat to public health in terms of blindness is not widely understood. “Children are developing myopia younger and the disease is progressing faster, and this places them at high risk of blindness. There are now 2 billion people worldwide with myopia, and that is projected to grow to 5 billion by 2050.  Currently, there are no established treatments to stop people becoming short-sighted, and no treatments to stop them getting worse if they do. At CERI, we aim to change that.” Professor Loughman went on to say that family and school-based interventions are urgently required, along with therapies that practitioners can prescribe so that myopia in the future is treated rather than just managed by giving a pair of glasses.

Professor Brian Norton, President of DIT, said, “We are delighted to welcome Her Excellency, Ambassador Myoshi on her first visit to DIT; and to welcome back Dr Ray O’Connor and his Topcon colleagues. The Topcon Vision Science Lab here in the Greenway Hub – which is our centre for research and innovation in the heart of our new campus in Grangegorman – will support research that will no doubt play an important part in improving health outcomes internationally but also here in Ireland, and we look forward to close collaboration with HSE colleagues in the new Primary Care Centre which is right beside us.” Thanking Topcon for their generous philanthropy, Professor Norton said the company has been a long-standing supporter of DIT.  “Thanks to the interest and generosity of the company, our students are developing their knowledge and professional expertise using the very latest equipment, both in our National Optometry Centre and the College of Engineering & Built Environment.”