Seeking an end to itchy eyes

Technology first used by the US military in war zones is being used to study eye inflammation in allergy sufferers at a new research centre launched at Aston University


Technology first used by the US military in war zones is being used to study eye inflammation in allergy sufferers at a new research centre launched by Aston University.


The country’s first Ocular Allergy Centre has been set up, aided by £183,000 funding from RDA Advantage West Midlands to lead the fight against itchy eyes caused by hay fever and allergies.


The centre pools anterior eye expertise from Aston University’s Academy of Life Sciences (AALS) Optometry Programme and Worcester University’s National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit (NPARU).


This pioneering collaboration, part of the Birmingham Science City initiative, has enabled the launch of the £249,000 centre and will make the West Midlands the national leader in an emerging area. Ocular allergies currently affect up to 20 per cent of the population but the subject, to date, has remained under researched.


Equipment at the facility includes a special camera that uses military technology. By using a £25,000 ocular thermographer, which provides thermal images of the eye, scientists can identify optical ‘hot spots’, which are inflamed and irritated. It is the first time such a piece of equipment has been used in Britain, and it uses the same technology that the US military employ to detect hidden enemy fighters.