A renewed partnership between Vision Express and the Macular Society has helped boost investment in the charity’s research.

In a tie-up launched during an event in London last week, macular disease was described as an urgent public health issue forecasted to reach epidemic proportions.

An extra £6m per year needed to be invested in research, according to Macular Society chief executive Cathy Yelf.

In an escalation of previous estimates, nearly 1.5m people in the UK were affected by macular disease, the charity said, with 300 people facing a shock diagnosis every day. Public funding remained ‘woefully inadequate’.

Yelf added: ‘Our new strategy sets out what needs to do be done to avert an epidemic of blindness in the UK, and increased funding is absolutely critical.

‘It is more prevalent than dementia and represents a huge cost, care and societal burden, yet inexplicably, does not receive a level of research funding proportionate to its impact. Just 0.2 per cent of UK public medical research money is spent on macular disease. That is nowhere near enough to make real advancements into treatment or a possible cure.’

VE has agreed to donate £1 from every £10 eye test in December to the Macular Society.

Supporting the campaign launch at London’s Dans Le Noir ‘Dining in the Dark’ restaurant was para-athlete Zac Shaw, who was diagnosed with macular condition Stargardt disease following an eye test at Vision Express at aged nine.

‘I want to inspire those living with macular disease, like me, to go out there and achieve their dreams. This campaign is so important because the ultimate aim has to be to stop this cruel condition,’ Shaw said.