It is not only a personal tragedy to be born or to acquire blindness in early life but also a major socio-economic problem. Tragically many cases are preventable. Professor Gilbert will explain why children become blind and how programs instigated worldwide treatment and prevent blindness.
Professor Clare Gilbert worked as a clinical ophthalmologist for ten years, and has an MD in Surgical Retina. She completed the MSc in Epidemiology at LSHTM 1995, and worked in the Department of Preventive Ophthalmology, Institute of Ophthalmology, London from 1990 before joining the London School in 2002. Gilbert is Professor of International Eye Health in the International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH), and has been the Medical Advisor to Sight Savers International since 1995. Since January 2006 Gilbert has been Co-Director of ICEH and is a member of the School's Ethics Committee.
Professor Gilbert is in overall charge of the research undertaken by the International Centre for Eye Health. The research agenda is in line with the priorities of VISION 2020 the Right to Sight, and includes the following areas: infectious diseases (e.g. trachoma); diseases of the elderly (e.g. cataract; glaucoma; national surveys of the prevalence and causes of blindness); childhood blindness studies and Cochrane systematic reviews. Over the last 10 years the eye group have given technical support to national surveys in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Professor Gilbert's own research focus is on the epidemiology of blindness in children, particularly in middle and low income countries. Recent projects include a national study of the prevalence and causes of blindness in children in Bangladesh using Key Informants as case finders, with an emphasis on childhood cataract; a cohort and nested case control study of retinopathy of prematurity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to establish screening criteria and to explore risk factors; a study in Tanzanian school children to determine the most cost effective means of identifying children with significant refractive errors as well as exploring factors which influence spectacle wearing. Ongoing studies include a study to explore the effectiveness of low vision care for children in three countries in Asia and an inteverntion study to assess the impact of training neonatal nurses on the outcomes of neonatal care, including retinopathy of prematurity in Brazil. Gilbert was the principal applicant on a recent twin study of macular pigment with collaborators at St Thomas' Hospital and the Institute of Ophthalmology.
The findings of Professor Gilbert's research have been used to assist in planning and evaluating eye care programs for children. She was involved in planning and evaluating a national program for childhood cataract in Bangladesh, and evaluated a training program in India for retinopathy of prematurity. Gilbert has also facilitated several workshop in Latin America, to develop programs for screening and treating retinopathy of prematurity.