RESERACHERS in Southampton are to lead a groundbreaking study to see whether a drug used for heart diseases could save patients’ sight.

A drug used to treat heart failure will be used to see if it can be a cure for a currently untreatable eye condition which causes a number of people to suffer permanent vision loss. The £1 million project will involve 104 patients across 20 sites in the UK and will receive the medication for up to 12 months.

The condition, central serous chorio-retinopathy (CSCR), is a type of macular degeneration affects mainly people in their thirties and forties and occurs when fluid gathers under the inner part of the eye.

Professor Andrew Lotery, a consultant ophthalmologist at UHS, said: “This is a really important study because a number of patients suffer permanent vision loss as a result of this condition, the cause of it is unknown and there are currently no proven treatments for it.”

Professor Lotery said that there is no information on long-term benefits of using a heart drug to treat this type of eye disease.

“So we hope this landmark trial will establish the first scientifically proven therapy,” he said.

He also added that although the cause of the condition is unknown, it can occur in families and some genetic changes have been found.

For this reason, researchers will try to prepare future study to cover this area. They will try to identify what genetic variations are more in common between those suffering with this eye disease.