join us at facebook find us on twitter linked in

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

British Council for the Prevention of Blindness

News Desk

Grant applications now open

April 2019

For information about our 2019 grants programme please click here.

BCPB's new trustees

April 2019

BCPB is delighted to announce the appointment of three new trustees to our Board. They bring a wide range of skills and experience and are from varying backgrounds, achieving our aim of a diverse Board making better decisions and improving our governance.
Our new trustees are Patrick Franklin – company director and volunteer BCPB fundraiser, Dr Patrick Igulot – lecturer in health & social care at Sunderland University in London, and Elmien Wolvaardt – editor of Community Eye Health Journal at the International Centre for Eye Health. We welcome them to our organisation and look forward to working with them..

Patrick Franklin
Dr Patrick Igulot.
Elmien Wolvaardt

November 2018

Blindness Prevention in Action – our new annual review is now available.
Our 2017/18 annual review highlights the impact BCPB is making on blindness prevention in the developing world and you can read it here.

World Sight Day 11 October 2018 – BCPB's impact on preventing blindness

October 2018

On World Sight Day 2018 BCPB's Fundraising Manager Emma McGuigan speaks about our work and why she thinks research into preventing blindness is important. 
Watch on youtube

Eye Care Everyewhere

Quicker, safer and cheaper eye surgery training

September 2018

BCPB is supporting a project that is trialling an accelerated simulation method to see if we can train eye health professionals in glaucoma and cataract surgery quicker, more safely and cheaper to meet the demand for highly skilled surgeons in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Here is a short video of Dr Dean from LSHTM who is leading the project setting up for a training session.
Watch on youtube


Patrick and Sue Franklin's 250 mile sponsored walk

May 2018

Training is in progress for Patrick and Sue Franklin's 250 mile sponsored circumnavigation of the Lleyn Peninsular and Anglesey in June/July 2018. 
All money raised will be donated to BCPB.  If you would like to make a contribution to this challenge click here.

Franklin Family

Tanzania Health Ministry to include eye health in childhood illness management programme

March 2018

Thanks to work supported by BCPB and carried out by Dr Aeesha Malik and Professor Clare Gilbert, of the International Centre for Eye Health in London, the Ministry of Health in Tanzania have agreed to include a child eye health module into their Integrated Management of Childhood Illness Programme.
This programme trains primary healthcare workers to spot health issues in children from birth to five years old, but to date eye health has not been included. By adding an eye health module to this training, primary healthcare workers will be able to ensure that children in Tanzania are referred and treated for eye problems as early as possible and prevent blindness.

Tanzania Health Ministry

Inspirational speech given by BCPB grantee

March 2018

BCPB grantee Dr Andrew Bastawrous, Founder of Peek Vision, recently gave an inspirational speech at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on his work in fighting preventable blindness.
Peek was funded by BCPB in 2012 and through our support Dr Bastawrous was able to validate the use of smartphones for the diagnosis of eye diseases in Kenya. This work has gone on to be implemented in many countries and is now being used in Botswana to screen every child for eye diseases, a first for any country in the world. Peek are developing a long lasting legacy for preventable blindness. See his speech on youtube here

BCPB supports simulation-based ophthalmic surgical training

February 2018

Over the next two years a project led by Dr William Dean of The International Centre for Eye Health in London, supported by BCPB, will use simulation-based ophthalmic surgical training for the first time to train over 100 trainee eye doctors from Sub-Saharan Africa. The aim is to prove that this method can train eye surgeons more quickly, safely, and effectively to start addressing the huge issue of avoidable blindness in this region caused by glaucoma and cataracts.

One of the trainees told Dr Dean "I found the sustained practice was beneficial and I felt like I improved over the course of the week, slowly building skills and confidence." More information about Dr Dean's project is available from BCPB's Fundraising Manager Emma McGuigan –

BCPB supports simulation-based ophthalmic surgical training

Building Research Capacity

November 2017

Over the past year we have been building research capacity through the VISION 2020 LINKS Programme.
With support of the ICEH through our Research Mentorship Programme we have been working with the College of Ophthalmology of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COECSA) to support researchers in order to solve some of the most pressing blindness issues in this region.

We are pleased to report that this project has had a very successful first year and we look forward to continuing to support our research mentees, Stephen Gichuhi from Nairobi, Simon Arunga from Mbarara and Godfrey Furahini, from Tanzania over the next year. More information on the project is available from the BCPB office –

Participants in the Research Mentorship Workshop at KCMC, Moshi, Tanzania

Our New Annual Review

November 2017

BCPB's annual review 2016/17 is now available.
Click here to open/download.

Richard Wormald

New trustee Richard Wormald joins BCPB's board

November 2017

BCPB's trustees are delighted to welcome Mr Richard Wormald, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital and senior lecturer at University College London and the International Centre for Eye Health.
He was Coordinating Editor of the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group which has now published more than 200 systematic reviews of eye health interventions on the Cochrane Library Editorial board of the following journals – Ophthalmology, Ophthalmic Epidemiology, Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, Biomed Central Ophthalmology and Journal of Community Eye Health. He is a trustee of Fred Hollows UK, and a former trustee of Sightsavers International and Vision 2020 UK.

Richard Wormald

BCPB's new Boulter Fellows start their MSc course at the International Centre for Eye Health

November 2017

We welcome our new Boulter Fellows to the UK - Rebecca Oenga (Kenya), Ahmed Bako (Nigeria), Subeesh Kuyyadiyil (India) and Funmilayo Oyediji (Nigeria) – for the start of their MSc course in Public Health for Eye Care.

Boulter Fellows

BCPB's New Fundraising Manager

September 2017

We are delighted to welcome our new Fundraising Manager Emma McGuigan. She brings over ten years' experience in charity fundraising and is excited to be joining the BCPB team.

Emma McGuigan

NCVO: Championing the voluntary sector

November 2016

BCPB has joined the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, known as NCVO, which champions the voluntary sector and volunteering by connecting, representing and supporting voluntary organisations. 

40 years of Blindness Prevention

November 2016

BCPB celebrated 40 years of blindness prevention at an Anniversary Reception attended by donors, luminaries from the world of ophthalmology, current and former trustees, friends and colleagues. 
Chairman Paul Hunter traced the history of the charity going back to 1976, referring to our grants programme and highlighting the cascade effect when eye care workers from the developing world receive Boulter Fellowships from BCPB to study for an MSc in public health for eye care at the International Centre for Eye Health in London.  On returning to their home countries they pass on their training and skills to others – showing that the funding we provide benefits many more people than the original recipient. 

Mr Hunter emphasised that although BCPB is a very small charity, we have a big ambition to make a difference to an enormous problem: by choosing to focus our limited resources on long-term interventions through our backing of research, education and training in those parts of the world where the need is greatest and resources are limited.

Professor Stephen Vernon, Vice-President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, grantee Dr Ian Murdoch, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields and researcher at the Institute of Ophthalmology, and Boulter Fellow Dr Noela Prasad also spoke.

Celebrating 40 years

BCPB has a new Treasurer

August 2016 –

Stephen Brooker has stepped down as BCPB's Treasurer after 13 years of service for which we thank him and pay tribute to his wise and supportive contribution.
He is succeeded by Afzal Ismail who is Head of the Finance, Treasury and Tax audit team for Barclays Bank. He joined Barclays Internal Audit in May 2010 with responsibility for audit coverage of the Investment Bank's Global FX and Commodities Trading activities and then in 2012 transferred to Johannesburg where he headed the Barclays Africa Corporate & Investment Bank audit team until the end of 2014. Prior to Barclays, Afzal has spent his career primarily focusing on Investment Banking Audit at Standardbank, Merrill Lynch, and as part of KPMG's Internal Audit Services practice, both in London and the Middle East. Afzal holds a Masters degree in Finance from Strathclyde University, and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in 1995.

Afzal Ismail

BCPB's New Advisory Panel Chairman

July 2016

Professor Paul Foster has now completed his term of office as Chairman of the Advisory Panel and is succeeded by Professor John Sparrow.
He has been a Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Bristol Eye Hospital for over 20 years and has an Honorary Personal Chair as Professor of Ophthalmic Health Services Research and Applied Epidemiology at the University of Bristol. He has Chaired and served on various Royal College of Ophthalmologists committees, Chaired NICE Glaucoma Guideline and Quality Standards Committees, was Connecting for Health's National Clinical Lead for Ophthalmology, Chair of the UK and Eire Glaucoma Society, and co-founder of the College facilitated National Ophthalmology Database (NOD) project, and since 2014 has been the Clinical Lead for the HQIP funded National Ophthalmology Audit project. He has raised around £7M in research funding and currently leads the first clinically initiated and clinically driven NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research addressing an ophthalmological topic.

AMRC awards best practice certificate to BCPB

April 2016

In order to ensure that the research BCPB funds is the highest scientific quality, our awards are made on a fully competitive and peer reviewed basis. This allows a rigorous, fair and transparent selection process, and ensures that our projects are in line with VISION 2020 objectives - to eliminate avoidable blindness.
BCPB is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and complies with its guidelines for best practice. In April 2016 the AMRC confirmed that BCPB has passed the AMRC's 2015 Peer Review Audit.

amrc peer preview audit 2015

Kitty McGeever

August 2015

Sadly our celebrity supporter Kitty McGeever passed away on 16 August. We offer our sincere condolences to everyone that knew her.

Kitty McGeever

New Chairman for BCPB

July 2015

BCPB are delighted to announce that Mr Paul Hunter MA FRCP FRCS FRCOphth, has accepted the Chairmanship of the charity following the retirement of Dr Jeffrey Jay CBE.

Mr Hunter has had a distinguished career in ophthalmology and his previous appointments include Consultant Ophthalmologist at King's College Hospital, London where he was in charge of the corneal service. As well as being in active clinical practice, he was closely involved in undergraduate and postgraduate education both at King's and through his work with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

He served as President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists from 2000 to 2003.

He has authored numerous scientific publications, and a textbook "Atlas of Clinical Ophthalmology". He has also lectured extensively both in the UK and abroad on corneal disease and related subjects.

He has been married to Lizzie for 44 years and has two children and three grandchildren.

Paul Hunter, New Chairman of BCPB


May 2015

We are a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). All AMRC members support the AMRC position statement on the use of animals in research.


Make My Day Better

November 2014

We are most grateful for the continuing generous support of the charity Make My Day Better, which has given generous and unrestricted grants to support our work over the past two years.

Make My Day Better is the charity arm of the Lotus Group and DialAFlight.

make my day better

Richard and Judy support BCPB

September 2014

We are delighted that celebrity husband and wife team Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are giving their support to BCPB and our work.

Judy says: 'Unless it's happened to you, it's hard to imagine what losing your sight is like. It nearly happened to me and blindness runs in my family. I was incredibly fortunate to have kept my sight so I know how important it is to help children and adults receive preventative treatment too. BCPB do this every day, both in Europe and the developing world. Please donate today so they can continue.'

And Richard comments: 'Both Judy and I have seen at close quarters the impact of losing your sight. Judy nearly lost her sight a few years ago through a detached retina and it’s hard to describe what that was like for her and our family. BCPB helps prevent and treat blindness in thousands of children and adults around the world. Please help them continue by making a donation today.'

Richard Madely & Judy Finnegan

Fearless Grandmother Leaps From Plane To Support BCPB!

September 2014

Grandmother Susan Ritchie tells the story of her parachute jump for BCPB.

Elaine, my best friend for the last 31 years, has retinitis pigmentosa (an eye disease that leads to loss of vision and blindness), and I wanted to raise money to support a blindness prevention charity. I decided to do a parachute jump, and have been using online social networking to help me advertise it.

When I got to the Heliport in Lowestoft on 6 August I was concerned that my jump would be cancelled due to the heavy rain. Other people started arriving and were excited, but also disappointed because of the weather. During the briefing I kept thinking that the rain was never going to stop, I thought, how can I return home and have to tell everyone I couldn't jump today, after the build-up, after everyone supporting me, there was no way I wanted this to be cancelled. All of a sudden there was a break in the sky, the rain seemed to be stopping and the sun was trying to peer through. I was like a kid who had never seen the sun before, I pointed up and called out, "look there's the sun", it all seems silly now but at the time I was so happy and so was everyone else.

We got into our jumpsuits and harnesses and I was introduced to Rob, my tandem partner and Paul my camera man, and within minutes I was being ushered on to the aircraft, I had no time to think, no time to analyse my feelings, it was like I was now in a dream. I was strapped on to Rob, sitting on the floor and the aircraft took off, I couldn't believe it was actually happening, I was last on board, there were only 10 of us on the aircraft and it was full - four of us jumping with our tandem guys and two camera guys. So now we are up in the air, and I was being asked to shuffle forward, I've just realised that I am first off, so I had no time to feel anything. Then at the doorway, and I was out.

Oh my gosh, what a rush, my stomach had left my body! I could see Paul in front of me, I was trying to remember the instructions, but couldn't think. Thumbs up, then the parachute surged me up, wow! It felt like everything inside me also surged up and hit the top of my head, my ears popped, then came the calm. I was able to enjoy the views, it was absolutely wonderful. When Rob turned, my stomach turned too! It was exhilarating, I wanted to stay up there forever - the sun was shining, the sky was blue, the ground was faraway. Before I knew it we were getting ready to land, Rob told me to grab my legs and hold them up. He took the landing, and I arrived on my bottom, it was very gentle, I expected it to be bumpy.

Once on the ground Rob unharnessed and we both stood up, I wanted to jump into his arms and give him the biggest hug. We shook hands and said our thanks, and he was off running for his next tandem. I watched the others jump and it was then it hit me - I DID IT! I had jumped 13,000 feet!

Watching the DVDs and looking at the photos with my family they are all very proud of me. My grandson, who is 4 years old and into aeroplanes at the moment, is in awe that his nanny has jumped out of a plane!

BCPB sky diveBCPB sky diveBCPB sky dive

Laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy in Malawi.

March 2014

BCPB has awarded a grant of £59,570 to Dr Nicholas Beare of Liverpool University for an investigation into laser treatment of diabetic retinopathy in Malawi.

Studies suggest diabetes is as common in resource-poor African countries as it is in the UK, but over 95% is undiagnosed and untreated. As sight-threatening diabetic eye disease takes 5-15 years to develop, an epidemic is feared - for which local eye services are unprepared. The researchers have found sight-threatening eye disease in more than 1 in 5 patients attending the clinic in Blantyre, Malawi. They have two well-characterised groups of diabetic patients, with graded diabetic retinopathy (DR), who have had laser treatment over the last 6 years. Those treated in 2011-12 are in active follow-up. They aim to evaluate the response to laser treatment in the Malawian population and investigate its cost-effectiveness . The knowledge gained will inform a grant application for a more extensive three year study examining 3 and 5 year outcomes. This is needed for locally relevant service development and planning.

Eyephones On Film.

October 2013 - updated March 2014

In May 2012 we posted a story describing an exciting new project funded by BCPB: Eye Phones to Prevent Blindness in Low Income Countries? The researchers, led by Andrew Bastawrous, are testing the use of specially adapted smartphones ('eyephones') to make diagnoses of blinding disease in low income countries.

This short film describes Andrew Bastawrous' Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK) and how it could revolutionise access to accurate diagnosis of visual impairment in the poorest countries. It could be 100 times cheaper than conventional testing:​

New Research Mentorship Awards.

June 2013

The British Council for Prevention of Blindness is launching research mentorship awards.  These will build research links between hospitals and universities in developing countries and UK universities or NHS Trusts, with the goal of building research capacity

Successful projects will further the goals of ‘VISION 2020: The Right to Sight’, the elimination of avoidable blindness in low-income countries. Grants between £5,000 and £15,000 will be awarded to enable applicants from developing countries with a colleague or mentor in the UK to work together to develop a research project.  For applicants who do not have a contact in the UK, BCPB is building a database of specialist ‘BCPB mentors’ who work in a variety of fields of ophthalmic and vision science.

Guidelines and application forms are available on BCPB’s website here.  The closing date for applications is 11 October 2013.

Stars support BCPB.

March 2013

We are delighted to announce that 5 stars of TV drama, sport and the music scene are lending their support to BCPB.

Lord Chris Holmes

Lord Chris Holmes MBE LLD MA led the London 2012 Paralympic Games team to stage, in the words of the IPC President, "The greatest Paralympic Games ever."  He took the games to a global scale, the first games to achieve worldwide television audiences in the hundreds of millions, the first games to have all the Olympic sponsors also signed to the Paralympics and the first games to sell out all the stadia for every session.

Lord Chris is also Britain's most successful Paralympic swimmer ever, winning 9 gold medals, 6 at a single games.

Despite losing his sight overnight aged 14, he gained straight A's at A level and got to Cambridge University from a comprehensive school.  While still at University he won 6 gold medals at the Barcelona Games in 1992, a feat never equalled by any Briton.  He went on to compete in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000 winning a further 3 gold medals.

Lord Holmes says: "BCPB's work helps to treat blind children and adults and train medical staff to prevent blindness in future generations. Please donate what you can and help BCPB enable thousands to experience sight"

Kitty McGeever

Kitty McGeever is the first blind actress to be cast in a British soap opera. Since April 2009 she has played the fictional blind character Lizzie Lakely in Emmerdale. RADA trained, she became blind as a result of diabetic retionopathy at the age of 32.

Kitty McGeever says 'For me being blind is a disability I've learnt to manage but of course if it can be prevented or treated, both in children and adults, that's fantastic. The work BCPB does makes an unimaginable difference to thousands of people's lives. Please donate today and help them to continue doing so.".

Andrea Bocelli

Andrea is an Italian tenor who has recorded over 20 pop and classical albums, as well as 7 complete operas. He has sold over 65 million albums worldwide. It was evident at birth that he had problems with his sight, and after visits to many doctors Bocelli was diagnosed with glaucoma. In 1970, at the age of 12, he completely lost his sight after an accident during a soccer game. As a young boy, Bocelli showed a great passion for music. At the age of six he started piano lessons before he also learned to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, harp, guitar and drums. Bocelli once said "I don't think a singer decides to sing, it is the others who choose that you sing by their reactions."

Andrea Bocelli says "Even though I do not see my own blindness as an obstacle, I can still remember what it was like to have sight as a child and now there is so much more that can be done to prevent blindness. BCPB do invaluable work helping thousands of children and adults to see. Please give what you can today to help them continue." Andrea Bocelli

Amadou & Mariam

Stars of the world music scene, Amadou & Mariam are a musical duo from Mali. Amadou Bagayoko (guitar and vocals) was born in Bamako in 1954 and Mariam Doumbia (vocals) was born in Bamako in 1958. They met at Mali's Institute for the Young Blind, where they both performed in the Institute's Eclipse Orchestra, directed by Idrissa Soumaouro. Amadou lost his vision at the age of 16, while Mariam became blind at age 5 as a consequence of untreated measles. Their musical style incorporates instruments from across the African continent and beyond and has been described as 'Afro blues'. They have won several World Music awards and have played with artists including Dave Gilmour, Stevie Wonder, Coldplay and Blur.

Amadou and Mariam say "We know ourselves how much of a problem blindness is in Africa so we believe that anything that can be done to change that is hugely worthwhile. BCPB brings the possibility of sight to thousands of people and that is a wonderful thing. Please make a donation today and help them to continue."

Chris HolmesKitty McGeeverAndrea BocelliAmadou & Mariam

New appointed Chair of BCPB's Advisory Panel.

November 2012

Professor Paul Foster, a BCPB trustee and Professor of Ophthalmic Epidemiology & Glaucoma Studies at the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology, has been appointed Chair of BCPB's Advisory Panel, which selects the best research projects to recommend for funding. He succeeds Professor James Morgan, of Cardiff University, who retired in April 2012 having completed his 6-year term of office on the Panel.  Professor Foster is now working on the current round of grant applications, which were received in October 2012.

Andrew Bastawrous

AMRC awards best practice certificate to BCPB.

November 2012

In order to ensure that the research BCPB funds is the highest scientific quality, our awards are made on a fully competitive and peer reviewed basis. This allows a rigorous, fair and transparent selection process, and ensures that our projects are in line with VISION 2020 objectives - to eliminate avoidable blindness. BCPB is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and complies with its guidelines for best practice. In November 2012 the AMRC confirmed that BCPB has passed the AMRC's 2011 Peer Review Audit.


BCPB smartphone diagnosis project featured in London Metro.
September 2012

Andrew Bastawrous, whose research into smartphone diagnosis of blindness in developing countries is funded by BCPB (see Newsdesk May 2012) has won the Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2012.

Jointly backed by Metro and the Medical Research Council (MRC) to promote excellent science writing, the Max Perutz Award was developed by the MRC 15 years ago to encourage its scientists to communicate their research to a wider audience.

The competition was judged by MRC Chief Executive, Professor Sir John Savill; Metro's Ben Gilliland; science writer and author Dr Jenny Rohn; GP and author Dr Margaret McCartney and the winner of last year's award, Dr Amy Capes.

Dr Bastawrous' article 'Studying blindess - There's an app for that' was described by the judges as doing 'a great job of articulating the promise of his research'.

You can read the full article here:

Andrew Bastawrous

Skydive to raise funds for BCPB

June 2012

"I was crying, screaming,and laughing all at the same time!"
This is what 16 year old Londoner Leah Nelson experienced when she did a tandem skydive out of a plane at 13,000 feet at Beccles airfield near Norwich to raise money for BCPB.

In preparation for her exciting and bold undertaking she watched a training video and was briefed on body position, parachute mechanics and what happens in an emergency, in addition to learning how to land and the correct position to fall. "When I was in the plane I felt OK while watching others getting closer to the door, and the nearer I got to the door the more scary it felt. But once I was in the air it felt amazing".

Leah arranged her skydive with UK Parachuting - - who supplied her jumpsuit, hat, goggles and gloves. They give a discount of £30 off the fee of £200 to people skydiving for charity.

Leah's grandfather, who passed away last year, was blind and she was saddened that he never saw her or her mother. This motivated her to sell home-made cakes at her school and get sponsorship from friends at her church. Leah's enterprising determination has raised a total of £170 for BCPB.

We welcome all fundraising efforts, and we thank Leah for her generosity and courageous effort.

sky dive

Eye Phones to Prevent Blindness in Low Income Countries?

May 2012

BCPB is funding an exciting new project to assess the viability of using smartphones to make diagnoses of blinding disease in low income countries.
It addresses an important and exciting issue concerning the use of mobile communication devices (smartphones) in the acquisition of ophthalmic data covering refraction, cataract and retinal disease and glaucoma.

A recent BBC report highlighted the medical potential of smartphones in developing countries (see 'Smart vision for mobile phones in the developing world' at  Although most of global blindness is concentrated in poor countries, these countries lack infrastructure and resources to tackle the problem. One of the biggest hurdles is, of course, cost. The equipment needed to make accurate eye examinations is costly, sensitive and bulky. Even where such equipment is available, it is not easy to transport to rural areas. But this may be changing. Smartphones have become increasingly sophisticated, and with inexpensive modifications now offer the potential to make diagnosis of eye disease possible. Right now, this is only a potential. What is needed is careful testing and evaluation, and that is exactly what this project will do.

The researchers, led by Andrew Bastawrous, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will use smartphones to make examinations of 3000 people in Kenya, people originally examined in a previous project funded by BCPB (see BCPB Annual Review March 2011, pages 8 and 9). The patients are due to be re-examined in a follow-up study in 2012-2013. The diagnoses obtained by the specially adapted phones (using technology developed at LSHTM) will be compared with those obtained by the 'gold standard' methods - methods that rely on expensive specialist ophthalmic equipment. In this way, the reliability of smartphone diagnoses of eye disease including visual impairment, cataract, age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy can be accurately assessed.

The full project title is "Ophthalmology In Your Pocket: validating the use of smartphones for the diagnosis of eye diseases in Nakuru, Kenya" and BCPB is providing £59,980 of pump-priming funding.

New Grants for Cataract Repair Work in Asia and Africa

August 2011

Following receipt of a legacy to fund cataract repair work in Asia and Africa The British Council For Prevention of Blindness invites applications for funding of work to repair cataracts in these areas. Proposals from eye care professionals or programme managers with a proven track record in this field, seeking to fund eye camps or similar initiatives, will be welcomed. Those which include strong elements of quality control, research and training will be favoured. The total funds available are £45,000. Applications for all or part of this total (minimum grant £10,000) will be considered.

Applications must be submitted on the relevant form, available from Diane Bramson, BCPB Administrator by email on or downloadable from our website and must be received by 5pm on 14 October 2011 by email on and in a single hard copy to the British Council for Prevention of Blindness, 4 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2RP. Applications will be considered by the Advisory Panel in January 2012 and it is anticipated that grants will be available from March 2012.

New research funded

February 2011

BCPB is pleased to announce the award of 4 new grants to fund research to fight blindness. The awards total some £463,000 and include work in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and the UK.

Details of the grants are as follows:

Mohammed Abdull, International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
"Improving control and early detection of glaucoma in Nigeria: a pragmatic, randomized trial of enhanced explanation of glaucoma and its treatment to adults newly diagnosed with moderate/advanced glaucoma." £179,915

Glaucoma, in which the optic nerve is irreparably damaged, is the commonest cause of irreversible blindness. Glaucoma causes more blindness in Africa than elsewhere as the disease is more aggressive; patients do not know about the condition and often present with advanced disease - blind in one or both eyes; not all eye units have adequate equipment, skills, experience and treatment options; patients do not adhere to treatment and follow up due to lack of understanding, cost and distance. Dr Abdull recruited 131 new glaucoma patients in a pilot study this year; 2/3 were blind in one/both eyes at presentation; 80% knew nothing about glaucoma; only 1/63 patients offered glaucoma surgery (trabeculectomy) actually underwent the procedure. In this randomized trial we will compare rates of acceptance of trabeculectomy following an enhanced education package compared with standard explanation. We will also investigate examination of first degree relatives as a strategy for earlier detection of glaucoma.

Stephen Gichuhi, ICEH
The epidemiology and management of ocular surface squamous neoplasia in Kenya  - £180,005

Ocular surface squamous neoplasia (OSSN) is an aggressive eye cancer, particularly affecting young adults in Africa, causing visual disability, high morbidity and even death. The causes of OSSN remain unclear; previous studies found conflicting results, linking it to HIV, human papilloma virus (HPV) and solar radiation. The diagnosis is problematic; the appearance of OSSN overlaps with several other diseases and pathology services are frequently unavailable in Africa. The optimal treatment is uncertain: there have been no clinical trials of the various alternatives in practice. We propose an integrated set of studies. Potential causative associations will be investigated by comparing a large number of cases with unaffected individuals. We will investigate the utility of a special stain to detect cancerous tissue to help support the clinical diagnosis. Finally, a clinical trial will investigate whether long-term results of surgical removal can be improved by a post-operative course of chemotherapy (5FU) eye drops.

Victor Hu, ICEH
Pathology of trachomatous conjunctival scarring  - £42,904

Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. There are currently
estimated to be 40 million people with active disease and 6 million blind or visually impaired from trachoma. Conjunctival infection with Chlamydia trachomatis in children results in a poorly understood inflammatory-scarring process which leads to blindness in adulthood. The purpose of this study is to better understand the scarring process in trachoma through an in-depth examination of conjunctival tissue. Biopsy specimens would be collected from 40 cases with scarring, and 40 control subjects, allowing a detailed microscopic examination. In vivo confocal microscopy would also be performed and conjunctival swabs collected for gene expression and infection status. This study will allow us to elucidate which cells and molecules are important in driving the disease process and help inform the development of future interventions to reduce blindness. It will directly complement the work that is being conducted by Dr Hu under his current BCPB Fellowship

Paul Foster, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
Long-term changes in anterior segment configuration in primary angle closure suspects with or without prophylactic laser iridotomy - £59,978

By 2020, it is projected that 80 million people will suffer from glaucoma. Half of binocularly blind glaucoma patients are blinded by primary angle-closure glaucoma (PACG), a preventable disease and one of the leading global priorities for prevention of blindness. Laser iridotomy has been proved to be able to reduce the risk of developing an attack of acute angle closure. However, so far, there is still no evidence showing that asymptomatic people susceptible to PACG will benefit from prophylactic laser iridotomy. This research will assess anatomical changes in the anterior part of the eye in a large cohort of primary angle closure suspects who were randomized and treated by laser iridotomy in one eye, and compare with the fellow, untreated eye. We believe the results will offer strong evidence about the feasibility and efficacy of prevention of PACG in large population and have a global impact on care of glaucoma patients.

Eye News Features BCPB Fellowships

May 2010

The April-May edition of Eye News carries a piece about BCPB Fellowships featuring Dr Mathenge's research work on eye disease in Kenya.

To download the article, please click here:

Dr Mathenge's survey team on the road in Kenya.

BCPB awards new Research Grants

April 2010

BCPB is delighted to announce the following awards of Research Grants. Projects will commence later in 2010.



Type of Grant



Mr. Parvez Hussain

University of Southampton

PhD studentship

Negative Regulators of Interleukin-1ß & Toll-Like Receptor-4 Signalling: A Therapeutic Approach to Treat Global Blindness From Sight Threatening Corneal Inflammatory Disease


Professor Clare Gilbert

International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Pump Priming Grant

Migration study of lens opacities in Bangladeshis living in London and in Bangladesh: a pilot study to refine methods


Professor Andrew Lotery

University of Southampton

Pump Priming Grant

The effect of SERPING1 on age related macular degeneration


Mrs. Anshoo Choudhary

University of Liverpool

Pump Priming Grant

Evaluation of thrombospondin-1 anti-angiogenic peptides for suppression of corneal vascularisation


BCPB Initiate New Research Grants

29th May 2009

The BCPB has initiated funding for new Research grants, worth up to £60,000 in total over one, two or three years. Research grants are available to clinicians, scientists or epidemiologists: a) for 'pump-priming' to develop their research ideas and generate pilot data to facilitate a future application for a substantial grant; or b) to provide funding for a non-clinical PhD or DrPH studentship.

Projects must further the goals of 'VISION 2020: The Right to Sight' - the elimination of avoidable blindness - and benefit VISION 2020-selected countries and sub-Saharan Africa. Grants will be awarded to UK research/training institutions. Applicants are advised to read the Information for Applicants to ensure that they are eligible to apply for these awards.

Closing date for receipt of applications: 13th November 2009.

For full Information for Applicants and application forms see or contact The Administrator, BCPB, 4 Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1A 2RP. Tel: 020 7404 7114

New Chairman for the BCPB
April 2009

BCPB are delighted to announce that Dr Jeffrey Jay, CBE, has accepted the Chairmanship of the charity following the retirement of Professor Andrew Elkington, CBE.

Dr Jay has had a distinguished career in ophthalmology and his previous appointments include Consultant Ophthalmologist and Clinical Director, Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology, Glasgow (retired 2007), President of Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Master of Oxford Ophthalmological Congress, Member of General Medical Council and of the European Board of Ophthalmology, Adviser in Ophthalmology to the Chief Medical Officer in Scotland and membership of the Scottish Advisory Committee on Distinction Awards.

Dr Jay has produced numerous scientific publications on glaucoma, external eye disease and physiology of vision.

Dr Jeffrey Jay

The Independent Features BCPB Funded Research Into AMD
October 2008

The Independent newspaper of 7th October 2008 carries this article by Jeremy Laurance on Professor Andrew Lotery's research into Age Related Macular Degeneration:

Cure for common cause of blindness a step closer

A treatment to prevent the West's commonest cause of blindness moved a step closer yesterday with the discovery of a mutant gene that sharply increases the risk of sight loss.

The discovery by scientists at Southampton University is the latest to show that the condition, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is an inherited disease which may be preventable with the right drugs.

About 25,000 people a year are diagnosed with wet macular degeneration in the UK, 30 million globally, which occurs when the blood vessels in the retina begin leaking, damaging retinal cells and destroying central vision.

In the latest advance, published in The Lancet, researchers led by Professor Andrew Lotery identified a gene called Serping1 which was present in the patients affected by the condition and which produces proteins that help ward off infection.

Professor Lotery said the finding, with the discovery of previous genes linked with AMD, amounted to a "paradigm shift" in thinking about the disease.

Preventing Blindness in Kenya: project update

August 2008

After a break of 6 months on maternity leave and 4 further months due to the unrest in Kenya following the elections earlier this year, Dr Mathenge has now resumed fieldwork. She is conducting research into blindness in the over 50s, intending to develop better ways of preventing blindness in this patient group.

Dr Mathenge writes:

'I have so far examined close to 2500 individuals as part of the survey and am just past the half way mark. On my second week in the field I came across a woman who was totally blind and was making a lot of noise and getting violent in the queue. She was accompanied by her very embarrassed husband. I asked that they be brought in quickly for examination. The man was completely fine. He explained that his wife was recently diagnosed with diabetes and had gone into coma. She was in hospital for 2 weeks. She recovered, but to their horror she 'woke up' blind. Since then she had gone completely psychotic. He was in a dilemma and had decided to use the little money he had to buy her diabetic medication as diabetes had almost killed her, rather than seek help for her eye condition. On examination she had dense cataracts in both eyes. I sent her to the hospital immediately for surgery. The next morning I passed by the eye ward to see her. A beaming husband met me at the door and said,'It is wonderful. My wife is back!' There she was completely back to normal mentally, singing softly. The husband thanked me several times for helping his wife. He asked me to repeat my name. This puzzled me at first - until I realised he was confused as to how I could have helped him when we he and I came from the 2 different tribes that had just recently engaged in bitter conflict in our country!

The survey continues and is projected to be completed by the end of October 2008.'

Dr Mathenge (with pencil and paper) at work on the survey

New Project to prevent Trachoma

In February 2008 BCPB awarded our first Barrie Jones Fellowship, for research into trachoma, by Victor Hu and colleagues at the International Centre for Eye Health, London.

Some £175,000 of funding will be provided by BCPB for this project.

Trachoma is the second most common cause of blindness after cataract, being responsible for around 15% of global blindness, and about 6 million people worldwide are currently blind from this disease. It is concentrated in low income countries with a hot and dusty climate. Trachoma triggers a poorly understood inflammatory response, which leads to conjunctival scarring, and eventually blindness in many cases. It is unknown whether current control measures, including antibiotic treatment, will halt this process as scarring takes many years to develop. This research project will strengthen our understanding of trachoma, improve the assessment of current methods of prevention, and may lead to new and better trachoma control strategies.

Victor Hu, the researcher, will be will be based at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Moshi, Tanzania and supervised there by Dr Matthew Burton, of the International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). ICEH is a world leading organisation in ophthalmic research in low income countries.

The project will link with a larger trachoma research programme in Tanzania and Ethiopia funded by Wellcome Trust.

Dr Matthew Burton performs an examination for trachoma

John Sergeant to present appeal Radio 4 Appeal

January 2008

The broadcaster John Sergeant will present a Radio 4 Appeal on behalf of the BCPB. The appeal will go out on Sunday 27th January at 7.55 a.m and is repeated later the same day at 21.26 p.m.

John Sergeant

John Sergeant to present appeal at Royal Albert Hall Concert 4th November

November 2007

We are delighted to announce that the writer and broadcaster John Sergeant will speak on behalf of the BCPB at a fundraising concert at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 4th November 2007, when around 700 singers from Joint Hertfordshire Choirs will perform the Berlioz Grande Messe Des Morts.

Tickets are on sale at the RAH Box Office (020 7589 8212 ). You can get tickets on-line from the Royal Albert Hall

John Sergeant

New Fellowship To Prevent Childhood Blindness in Malawi

January 2007

The BCPB Advisory Panel have this week awarded another Sir John Wilson Fellowship to Dr Khumbo Kalua of Malawi, who will be researching better methods of identifying children blind from cataract in remote locations in Malawi, in order to get them treatment and save their sight.

The project will build local capacity by training personnel, and help to develop systems and procedures to prevent childhood blindness in Malawi. The learning will be applicable elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, where there are some 320,000 blind children at present.

Once fully trained, Dr Kalua aims to establish a fully operational community eye department at the University of Malawi, which will have a significant impact in national blindness prevention. The total cost of this project is £154,000.

Dr Kalua and colleague examine a child in Malawi, 2006

New Concert Announced

22 March 2006

We are delighted to announce that Royal Hertfordshire Choirs will again be performing at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the BCPB. The work will be the Grande Messe des Morts by Hector Berlioz. The concert date is 4th November 2007.

The Royal Albert Hall

Eye Doctor From Kenya Awarded Prized Fellowship

March 2006

The British Council for Prevention of Blindness has awarded its first ever Sir John Wilson Prevention of Blindness Fellowship, worth some £180,000 over 3 years, to Dr Wanjiku Mathenge of Rift Valley Provincial Hospital, Nakuru, Kenya. Dr Mathenge will study for a PhD which will equip her for a senior post in her home country, where she will be influential in planning and implementing blindness prevention programmes.

Dr Mathenge will be supervised at the prestigious International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH), based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She will organise a survey of the leading blinding diseases within a district of Kenya. The study will identify those individuals who need treatment and those who are most at risk. Those with eye disease will be referred for treatment. The work will provide invaluable information about how best to prevent and treat blindness in Kenya and will be applicable in other developing countries.

Although the knowledge and skills to prevent most blinding diseases are already present in developed countries, 80% of blind people live in the developing world. Here, despite the fact that every passing minute sees another child go blind, there is a desperate shortage of trained people at all levels.

Dr Mathenge will spearhead a new cadre of top level professionals, funded by the BCPB, who will receive expert training in the UK to develop the eye care structure in Africa.

This new Fellowship builds on BCPB's existing Boulter Fellowship programme, under which trainees from LDCs study for an MSc in Public Health for Eye Care before returning to their home countries to play a key role in developing programmes to prevent blindness.

Dr Wanjiku Mathengel of Rift Valley Provincial Hospital, Nakuru, Kenya