HC Deb 08 June 1976 vol 912 cc1186-9
11. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish in the Official Report particulars of the research projects into the causes of blindness supported directly or through the Medical Research Council in each of the last three years; what was the amount of money allocated; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mulley

I am publishing the information in the Official Report. In addition, research into causes of blindness was undertaken at the Medical Research Council's Trachoma Unit until December 1973 at a cost of £20,600 in 1973–74 and biochemical studies of retinitis pigmentosa were undertaken at the council's Brain Metabolism Unit until 1975. Other council units have recently begun a study of some aspects of the genetics of retinitis pigmentosa. This forms part of a wider programme and the council cannot isolate the cost of the study.

The council also supports considerable basic research on the eye and vision which may prove relevant to the problems of blindness.

Mr. Pavitt

Why is it that when we have 160,000 registered blind people, with retinitis pigmentosa being the cause in about 40,000 cases, so little emphasis is given to this aspect of research? Will my right hon. Friend have discussions with this right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services on the amount that can be given for research into blind-

Tenure Subject and Institution Annual Value £
1970–73 Single unit discharge properties of the optic nerve with particular relation to amblyopia (St. Thomas's Hospital Medical School) 9,512
1970–73 Ocular vascular occlusive diseases (University of Edinburgh) 11,516
1970–73 Optical properties of the human lens (Institute of Ophthalmology) 3,822
1971–74 Investigations into the problems related to aqueous outflow in normal and glaucomatous eyes (Institute of Ophthalmology) 16,183*
1971–74 Macular disorders (Institute of Ophthalmology) 7,214*
1971–73 Visual callosal connections and their functions (University of Oxford) 4,641*
1971–75 The elastic properties of human lens fibres (Institute of Ophthalmology) 804
1971–74 An experimental and clinical study of choroidal blood flow and the effects of choroidal ischaemia on the eye (University of Glasgow) 6,568*
1972–73 Ultrastructural studies of the eye in health and disease (Institute of Ophthalmology) 25,000
1972–75 Regulation of stabilities of messenger RNAs for lens proteins (University of Edinburgh) 7,956
1972–73 Investigation into the toxic amblyopias, choroidal ischaemia, diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment (University of Glasgow) 2,739
1972–77 Neuronal plasticity in the mammalian central nervous system (University of Cambridge) 24,696*
1972–75 Neurotransmitters in the retina (Institute of Ophthalmology) 3,473*
1972–73 An analysis of recovery mechanisms after acute experimental demyelination of the optic nerve (Institute of Neurology) 7,949
1973–76 Aspects of the management of chronic open angle glaucoma by topically applied therapy (University of Bath) 2,904*
1973 Assessment of value of suramin therapy for the long-term control of onchocerciasis in a heavily infected community 1,624
1973–76 Rôle of immune mechanisms in resistance to and pathogenesis of chlamydial infection in the guinea pig eye (Institute of Ophthalmology) 3,545
1973–74 Physiological and pathological processes in the eye (Institute of Ophthalmology) 7,261*
1973–76 Influence of visual experience on spatial and temporal resolution in visual system and its relation to amblyopia (St. Thomas's Hospital Medical School) 6,273*
1974–77 The rôle of cell mediated immune mechanisms in human chlamydial disease (Institute of Ophthalmology) 7,972
1974–77 Epidemiology and aetiology of non-specific genital infection in women (University College Hospital Medical School, London) 11,370
1974–77 Traumatic retinal oedema: clincal and experimental study into the factors responsible for its causation (University of Bristol) 4,267*
1974–76 Reflectromatric study of the response of the vascular circulation of the eye to raised intraocular pressure (Institute of Ophthalmology) 3,730
1974–77 Mediators and inhibitors of the ocular response to inflammation and trauma (Institute of Ophthalmology) 3,102
1974–76 Study of lens changes in diabetes (Institute of Ophthalmology) 2,112*

ness under the Dainton Report, which allowed funds to be earmarked for specific purposes under a contractor-customer relationship? Does he agree that a much higher priority should be given to blindness, which seems to have sunk to the bottom of the league table in relation to research and treatment?

Mr. Mulley

As my hon. Friend has rightly said, the direction of this research is more a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services than for me. The essence of the Medical Research Council and other councils is that they are independent, but I shall have discussions with my right hon. Friend, as my hon. Friend has suggested.

The information is as follows:

Tenure Subject and Institution Annual Value £
1974–77 Biochemical studies on the lens and cornea of the eye, particularly cataract, and corneal scarring, in man (Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, University of Oxford) 2,091
1974–75 X-ray diffraction and micro-electrode study of corneal charge distribution, swelling and transparency (Oxford Research Unit, Open University) 9,263
1975 Clinical measurements of retinal haemodynamics using laser and signal processing techniques (Institute of Ophthalmology) 18,692
1975–78 Humoral immunity to chlamydial infections of the uro-genital tract (University of Birmingham) 6,675
1975–78 Factors influencing the ability of the retina and other ocular tissues to withstand ischaemia (Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology, University of Glasgow) 10,719
1975–78 The laboratory and clinical investigation of human oculo-genital infections with chlamydia (University of Liverpool) 3,119
1975–76 Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital) 6,352
Awarded 1975 (not yet taken up). Biochemical studies on cornea and lens of the eye, particularly cataract and corneal scarring in man (Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, University of Oxford) 7,798
* Partly funded by the Department of Health and Social Security. All other costs met from the Department of Education and Science grant-in-aid to the Medical Research Council.