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We fund research projects into the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders through our funding programmes, and support training and career development for ophthalmology researchers.

We deliver ophthalmology research funded by the NIHR, the life sciences industry and non-commercial organisations such as charities. We  support the set up and delivery of this research in the NHS and in public health and social care settings. Our research infrastructure also supports research funded by these partners, offering expertise, collaborations and facilities.

We also provide opportunities for people affected by eye conditions and their families and carers to influence and take part in ophthalmology research.

The NIHR supports patients and the public to participate in high quality research taking place in health and care settings across England, advancing knowledge and improving care.

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) includes 30 specialty groups, who coordinate and support the delivery of high quality research by therapy area. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by non-commercial organisations, such as charities or universities, and the life sciences industry.

The CRN provides researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen. It supports the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings through our Study Support Service, with tailored offers of support for:

Supporting ophthalmology research

We oversee research that deals with both the medical and the surgical treatment of eye diseases, as well as optometry and visual rehabilitation and other key areas within the broader discipline of vision sciences.

We support a broad range of research studies including those involving medicines and devices for eye diseases, those investigating childhood and inherited visual disorders, and studies of aids to help people with visual impairment.

UK-wide Ophthalmology Clinical Research Strategy

The CRN Ophthalmology specialty has developed a UK-wide Ophthalmology Clinical Research Strategy, to help tailor research to meet the demand ophthalmology is placing on outpatient departments, explore areas of unmet need in the population, and facilitate a non-commercial and commercial ‘research pipeline’ of therapies and technologies.

With one quarter of our portfolio being attributed to commercial studies, we have a dedicated Trials Manager to coordinate overseas sponsors of large international multicentre studies in facilitating set up with networks of UK hospital sites. Fast set up has helped our researchers deliver a number of global, rest of world and European first recruitments in commercial studies.

The Ophthalmology Specialty is at the forefront in instituting Electronic Medical Records systems for data collection and this has facilitated the identification of eligible patient populations. We have established links with patient organisations that provide access to hard to reach patient groups. Working with optometrist colleagues in the community we are able to recruit participants from both primary and secondary care settings.

We have several extremely successful networks in the fields of Retina and Glaucoma with UK wide studies ongoing. We have established a network of Principal Investigators with the knowledge, resources and infrastructure to permit participation in early phase studies. Additionally, we have established a national network of ophthalmic reading centres and we have established links with key Contract Research Organisations.

Who we are

As well as providing research delivery staff, we also bring together highly engaged NHS consultants and clinical academics from top UK universities, bringing both clinical and academic expertise to your research. Our experts in the CRN Specialty Group can advise on delivering your ophthalmology study in the NHS and in particular geographic regions.

Professor Rupert Bourne is the CRN National Specialty Lead for ophthalmology. Read Professor Bourne’s full biography.

Professor Bourne is supported by local specialty leads in each of the 15 NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks.

Our collaborators and stakeholders

We work with The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) and The College of Optometrists. In doing so we support NIHR research delivery in the UK through research awards, trainee research networks, and masterclasses.

We have implemented a symposium at the Annual RCOphth Congress with the specific role of engagement and portfolio development with industry sponsors.

The United Kingdom Inherited Retinal Degeneration Consortium was established with funding from the Retinal Action (formerly UK RP-Fighting Blindness) and Fight for Sight to find new genes in inherited retinal degeneration, solve difficult cases, create a working partnership between the main centres working in inherited retinal degeneration; and to create a database to encourage the sharing of data among other aims.

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) are purpose built facilities in NHS hospitals where researchers can deliver early-phase and complex studies.

Our funding programmes fund high quality research in ophthalmology that benefits the NHS, public health and social care. We also provide career development funding awards for ophthalmology researchers - see the careers tab for more information.

Our funding programmes

Our commissioned research programmes often seek research proposals on ophthalmology. Most of our funding programmes also run funding calls open to research proposals on any topic (researcher-led calls), including research proposals in ophthalmology.

Got an idea for research in ophthalmology? The NIHR Research Design Service can help you turn it into a funding application, offering advice on research design, research methods, identifying funding sources, and involving patients and the public.

Our portfolio of ophthalmology research

You can search and view all the ophthalmology research we’ve funded on NIHR Funding and Awards.

In addition, a number of our research programmes publish comprehensive accounts of our ophthalmology research in the NIHR Journals Library.

The NIHR attracts, trains and supports the best researchers in ophthalmology to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future.

Our investment in people sustains excellent research capacity and expertise throughout clinical and non-clinical academic career pathways and provides high quality learning and development opportunities for the delivery workforce in our infrastructure.

Funding research careers

The NIHR Academy is responsible for the development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development.

There is a wide range of NIHR training and career development awards available at different career stages, from pre-doctoral through to Research Professorships. These awards comprise both personal awards, which can be applied for directly with the NIHR, and institutional awards which should be applied for through the host institution.

Supporting the delivery workforce

We hold training workshops and symposia to improve knowledge of CRN activities in the UK workforce, and many of our regional leads conduct ‘NIHR Roadshows’ in their regions. More details in due course.

The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England. Collectively these form the world-class NIHR infrastructure. We also provide career development funding awards for ophthalmology researchers - see the careers tab for more information.

This national research infrastructure is available to use by UKRI, research charities and the life sciences industry as well as NIHR researchers.

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between world-leading universities and NHS organisations that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies.

The following BRC undertakes research in ophthalmology:

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings. Find out more on the delivery tab.

The NIHR funds and supports world-class experts in ophthalmology.

In addition, our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (National Specialty Leads) can advise on delivering your ophthalmology study in the NHS or in other health and social care settings.

National Specialty Lead

Professor Rupert Bourne is the NIHR Clinical Research Network National Specialty Lead for Ophthalmology.

Professor Bourne is Professor of Ophthalmology at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Cambridge University Hospital.

He has a strong research interest, particularly in advanced techniques of Glaucoma diagnosis and progression and the management of Glaucoma in the community, along with overseas ophthalmology which has involved design and analysis of several large population-based surveys of eye disease, several national in scope, eg. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Trinidad.

Read more about Prof Bourne.

We engage with and involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research in ophthalmology.

Have your say in ophthalmology research

We involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in our national research funding and support activities, including in ophthalmology research.

The researchers we fund also involve patients in planning and delivering their ophthalmology research.

Eye-YPAG is a young persons’ advisory group for eye and vision research, working with researchers to explore eye conditions and treatments and ensuring information about research is children and young people friendly

The NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre, which is dedicated to vision research, also has a ‘Research Community’ of patients and the public interested in helping them shape research.

Our Local Clinical Research Networks involve people in ophthalmology research taking place in your local area.

Take part in ophthalmology research

Be Part of Research is an online service that lists opportunities to take part in ophthalmology research across the UK.


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