Professor Matthew Burton


of Global Eye Health | Director of ICEH | Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow

Room 492

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7927 2329

Professor Matthew Burton is the Director of the International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). He holds a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship and leads a large international research group of clinicians and scientists, working to improve eye health in low and middle-income countries.

He is the co-chair of Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health. Through new and existing research, this Commission harnesses lessons learned from over two decades, presents the growing evidence for the life-transforming impact of eye care, and provides a thorough understanding of rapid developments in the field. This report was created through a broad consultation involving experts within and outside the eye care sector to help inform governments and other stakeholders about the path forwards for eye health beyond 2020, to further the Sustainable Development Goals (including universal health coverage), and work towards a world without avoidable vision loss and where people with existing vision impairment are included and cared for.

Matthew was the Director of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium, funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. The Consortium supported public health and research capacity development, sub-specialist ophthalmology training, health systems strengthening and technology development for eye health professionals.

He is an Honorary Consultant Ophthalmologist in Cornea & External Eye Disease at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, where he specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of microbial keratitis.

Matthew qualified in medicine from Cambridge University. His post-graduate training was in Oxford and at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. He joined the International Centre for Eye Health in 2000. He was based at the MRC Laboratories, The Gambia (2001-2003), whilst doing his PhD, for which he received the LSHTM’s Woodruff Medal. After the completion of specialist training he spent four years based at KCMC Hospital, Moshi, Tanzania (2008-2012), where he established new trachoma research programmes in Tanzania and Ethiopia, which was funded through a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship.  Wellcome have continued to support Matthew’s trachoma research (2013-2018) through a Senior Research Fellowship in Clinical Science and more recently through a Collaborative Award (2017-2022). Recently his Wellcome Senior Research Fellowship was renewed for a further five years (2018-2023), for research on corneal infection in Uganda, Tanzania and Nepal.


Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Clinical Research


Matthew teaches on the MSc in Public Health for Eye Care and the East African Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene in Tanzania. He is also involved in the development of free online courses for eye health.


Matthew leads a group of more sixty research clinicians, epidemiologists, laboratory scientists and research assistants, working closely with academic partners in five countries. His main research focus is blinding eye infection (trachoma and corneal infection); in addition, he works on ocular surface squamous neoplasia, glaucoma, eye disease surveys and technology development. Clinical trials form a central component of the groups work.

Trachoma remains the commonest infectious cause of blindness in the world.  Our trachoma research has involved several clinical trials to improve the treatment of trachomatous trichiasis, quality of life, studies investigating the immunopathogenic basis of this disease, and developing more effective control strategies. This has led to changes in policy and practice in trachoma endemic countries. For example, a recent trichiasis surgery trial (Lancet Global Health 2016a) found substantially better outcomes from one particular operation.

New research in Ethiopia, supported through a Wellcome Collaborative Award called Stronger-SAFE, is seeking to understand the routes and determinants of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis transmission, develop interventions to suppress these, and to test these alongside enhanced antibiotic treatment schedules in a cluster randomised trial.

Corneal infection or microbial keratitis is a relatively common and devastating problem in tropical regions, where fungal pathogens account for >50%. Our research in Uganda, Tanzania, Nepal and India is investigating the epidemiology, microbiology, susceptibility patterns and pathophysiology of severe corneal infections, particularly those caused by fungi. We are developing and evaluating diagnostic tools and conducting a series of clinical intervention trials.

Ocular surface squamous neoplasia is a common and aggressive eye cancer in East Africa and elsewhere. We are investigating the epidemiology, pathophysiology and diagnostic tools. In Kenya, we recently completed a placebo-controlled trial of post-operative 5-fluorouracil eye drops and found a substantial reduction in recurrent disease (Lancet Global Health 2016b).

Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our studies are focusing on developing and evaluating low cost tools for detection and we are currently conducting a clinical trial of a laser procedure (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty), which may reduce the need for life-long use of daily eye drops.

Peek: Technology for Eye Care. We are developing and testing a package of mobile phone-based applications for eye care: Peek - Portable Eye Examination Kit. This will allow the user to conduct comprehensive examinations and to record data in remote locations, with a major impact on access to eye care and accuracy of diagnosis. Initial device applications are currently being field tested in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and India. The first application, a visual acuity app, has been released and shows excellent agreement with conventional devices (JAMA Ophthalmology 2015). We have used this system in a cluster randomised trial for visual impairment screening in school children, and found it to substantially improve the uptake of services (Lancet Global Health 2018a).

Research Area
Clinical trials
Complex interventions
Decision analysis
Drug resistance
Health technology assessment
Innate immunity
Disease control
Environmental Health
Global Health
Disease and Health Conditions
Eye diseases
Infectious disease
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Non-communicable diseases
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020.
Burton MJ; Ramke J; Marques AP; Bourne RRA; Congdon N; Jones I; Ah Tong BAM; Arunga S; Bachani D; Bascaran C
The Lancet Global Health
Topical Chlorhexidine 0.2% versus Topical Natamycin 5% for the Treatment of Fungal Keratitis in Nepal: A Randomized Controlled Noninferiority Trial.
Hoffman JJ; Yadav R; Sanyam SD; Chaudhary P; Roshan A; Singh SK; Singh SK; Mishra SK; Arunga S; Hu VH
Global economic productivity losses from vision impairment and blindness.
Marques AP; Ramke J; Cairns J; Butt T; Zhang JH; Muirhead D; Jones I; Tong BAMA; Swenor BK; Faal H
Selective laser trabeculoplasty versus 0·5% timolol eye drops for the treatment of glaucoma in Tanzania: a randomised controlled trial.
Philippin H; Matayan E; Knoll KM; Macha E; Mbishi S; Makupa A; Matsinhe C; da Gama V; Monjane M; Ncheda AJ
The Lancet Global Health
Effectiveness of an mHealth system on access to eye health services in Kenya: a cluster-randomised controlled trial.
Rono H; Bastawrous A; Macleod D; Mamboleo R; Bunywera C; Wanjala E; Gichuhi S; Burton MJ
The Lancet Digital health
The global incidence and diagnosis of fungal keratitis.
Brown L; Leck AK; Gichangi M; Burton MJ; Denning DW
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
A global review of publicly available datasets for ophthalmological imaging: barriers to access, usability, and generalisability.
Khan SM; Liu X; Nath S; Korot E; Faes L; Wagner SK; Keane PA; Sebire NJ; Burton MJ; Denniston AK
The Lancet Digital Health
Detecting extra-ocular Chlamydia trachomatis in a trachoma-endemic community in Ethiopia: Identifying potential routes of transmission.
Last A; Versteeg B; Shafi Abdurahman O; Robinson A; Dumessa G; Abraham Aga M; Shumi Bejiga G; Negussu N; Greenland K; Czerniewska A
Oral doxycycline for the prevention of postoperative trachomatous trichiasis in Ethiopia: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Habtamu E; Wondie T; Aweke S; Tadesse Z; Zerihun M; Gashaw B; Roberts CH; Kello AB; Mabey DCW; Rajak SN
The Lancet Global health
Smartphone-based screening for visual impairment in Kenyan school children: a cluster randomised controlled trial.
Rono HK; Bastawrous A; Macleod D; Wanjala E; Di Tanna GL; Weiss HA; Burton MJ
The Lancet Global health
Diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa: from clinical care to health policy.
Atun R; Davies JI; Gale EAM; Bärnighausen T; Beran D; Kengne AP; Levitt NS; Mangugu FW; Nyirenda MJ; Ogle GD
The lancet. Diabetes & endocrinology
Clinical Validation of a Smartphone-Based Adapter for Optic Disc Imaging in Kenya.
Bastawrous A; Giardini ME; Bolster NM; Peto T; Shah N; Livingstone IAT; Weiss HA; Hu S; Rono H; Kuper H
JAMA ophthalmology
Prospective Study of the Diagnostic Accuracy of the In Vivo Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope for Severe Microbial Keratitis.
Chidambaram JD; Prajna NV; Larke NL; Palepu S; Lanjewar S; Shah M; Elakkiya S; Lalitha P; Carnt N; Vesaluoma MH
Topical fluorouracil after surgery for ocular surface squamous neoplasia in Kenya: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Gichuhi S; Macharia E; Kabiru J; Zindamoyen AM; Rono H; Ollando E; Wachira J; Munene R; Maina J; Onyuma T
The Lancet Global health
Posterior lamellar versus bilamellar tarsal rotation surgery for trachomatous trichiasis in Ethiopia: a randomised controlled trial.
Habtamu E; Wondie T; Aweke S; Tadesse Z; Zerihun M; Zewudie Z; Kello AB; Roberts CH; Emerson PM; Bailey RL
The Lancet Global health
Development and Validation of a Smartphone-Based Visual Acuity Test (Peek Acuity) for Clinical Practice and Community-Based Fieldwork.
Bastawrous A; Rono HK; Livingstone IAT; Weiss HA; Jordan S; Kuper H; Burton MJ
JAMA ophthalmology
Absorbable versus silk sutures for surgical treatment of trachomatous trichiasis in Ethiopia: a randomised controlled trial.
Rajak SN; Habtamu E; Weiss HA; Kello AB; Gebre T; Genet A; Bailey RL; Mabey DCW; Khaw PT; Gilbert CE
PLoS medicine
Surgery versus epilation for the treatment of minor trichiasis in Ethiopia: a randomised controlled noninferiority trial.
Rajak SN; Habtamu E; Weiss HA; Kello AB; Gebre T; Genet A; Bailey RL; Mabey DCW; Khaw PT; Gilbert CE
PLoS medicine
Re-emergence of Chlamydia trachomatis infection after mass antibiotic treatment of a trachoma-endemic Gambian community: a longitudinal study.
Burton MJ; Holland MJ; Makalo P; Aryee EAN; Alexander NDE; Sillah A; Faal H; West SK; Foster A; Johnson GJ
A randomised controlled trial of azithromycin following surgery for trachomatous trichiasis in the Gambia.
Burton MJ; Kinteh F; Jallow O; Sillah A; Bah M; Faye M; Aryee EAN; Ikumapayi UN; Alexander NDE; Adegbola RA
The British journal of ophthalmology
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