Project could save sight of thousands in rural India

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Sheffield University scientists have joined a project which could save the eyesight of thousands in India.

The aim is to tackle corneal infections, a serious issue in the country where many people are diagnosed too late to save their vision.

The city team has received funding from the Wellcome Trust to work with the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad.

Their objective over the next three weeks will be to develop a new easy-to-use technology that will result in rapid diagnosis and speedy treatment.

Team leader Professor Steve Rimmer said: “We are attacking a major problem in India, especially rural India, and if successfully introduced into practice we might save the eyesight of thousands.”

With collegues Prof Ian Douglas and Prof Sheila MacNeil, Steve has designed polymers which on recognition of bacteria collapse around it, trapping the bacteria in place and then allowing it to be removed.

The process has been used on eyes allowing bacteria to be removed from the cornea.

Prof Rimmer added: “Our system can be applied without laboratory facilities and results would be obtained within an hour, allowing medical staff to quickly provide the right therapy in the field.”