Dolores Conroy

Tell us about your journey into ophthalmology?

I ended up working in the ophthalmology quite by accident. In 2008 I made the decision to leave academic research and move into research management in the charity sector and got offered a position at Fight for Sight, the UK’s leading eye research charity. I really did not know anything about the eye, except what I learnt in Biology many years before, and was totally unaware of the devastating consequences of sight loss.

At first I was daunted by the number of eye conditions affecting all parts of the eye. However, I soon got to grips with the main eye diseases and began to gain an understanding of the disease mechanisms. At Fight for Sight I was responsible for the management of the grant applications with new research ideas submitted by researchers across the UK and reading these applications really excited me about ophthalmology and vision science.

What is your current research?

I am currently the research project manager for the ORNATE-India Study, a UK-India collaboration to tackle the burden of blindness due to diabetic retinopathy in India. I am responsible for the day-day management of this £6.3m grant, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

I’m based at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and this affords me many opportunities to learn more about ophthalmology by attending lectures, seminars and talking to the researchers doing pioneering research both here and at Moorfields Eye Hospital

Has your work been supported by the NIHR?

While I was at Fight for Sight I worked on the James Lind Alliance Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership- a consultation with clinicians and patients to set priorities for eye research. This initiative was supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital.

What do you think the future holds for ophthalmology?

The future holds great promise for safe and effective therapies for eye disease. Just today the NHS has approved a gene therapy treatment for a rare inherited retinal disease.

AI is a promising tool for the screening and diagnosis of eye diseases and in the near future it will play an increasingly significant role in the optimising the efficacy of the ophthalmic team in treating patients.