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Volume 79: debated on Tuesday 21 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the amount of money at present being provided by his Department for research into the treatment and cure of glaucoma.

Research into the treatment and cure of glaucoma is regarded as biomedical and as such comes within the ambit of the Medical Research Council, which is funded from the science budget of the Department of Education and Science. This Department is not therefore supporting any relevant research.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is the number of glaucoma patients who underwent sclerotomy in the National Health Service in 1983 and 1984;(2) if he will give the numbers of glaucoma patients at present being treated within the National Health Service.

We do not have information in precisely the form requested. Most cases of glaucoma are treated as out-patients, for whom we have no diagnostic information. In 1983, the latest year for which we have information, there were an estimated 12,080 — provisional—in-patient cases treated in NHS hospitals in England with a main diagnosis of glaucoma. The number of such cases who underwent sclerotomy is not available from the sample information.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what research his Department is sponsoring, or is aware of, into the early detection of glaucoma.

I have been asked to reply.The Medical Research Council, which receives its grant-in-aid through the Department, is the main Government agency for the promotion of medical research in the United Kingdom. I understand that in the financial year 1983–84 the council spent £2·9 million on research relating to vision. Of this, approximately £120,000 was spent on projects which could be relevant to glaucoma. The MRC is always willing to consider soundly based research proposals for support through its grants schemes in competition with other applications.Research work relevant to the detection of glaucoma may also be conducted in universities and medical schools using funds allocated for teaching and research on the advice of the University Grants Committee but details of such work are not collected centrally. The medical charities may also be funding work in this field.