Research in progress

Here you can find out about some of the research projects RNIB are currently involved in.

Eye health and sight loss stats and facts

“Eye health and sight loss stats and facts” will be an annual update on the most important messages we use about eye health, people at risk of sight loss and blind and partially sighted people.

The statements presented in this publication can be used to support a wide range of communications. These are our evidence based messages about the eye health needs of the nation, how many people with sight loss need support and what impact sight loss has on everyday life.

“Stats and facts” will be published in March 2017. 

Understanding the impact of Personal Independence Payment

In April 2013 the government introduced major changes to the benefit system in the UK. As part of this, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16 to 64.

RNIB, working with Sense and Thomas Pocklington Trust have commissioned NatCen Social Research to investigate the impact of PIP on people with sensory impairment. The research involved undertaking in-depth qualitative interviews with a range of people who have sensory loss.

The University of Birmingham have completed the first phase of the research which included fourteen semi-structured interviews which explored people’s experiences of applying for PIP. A copy of the report can be accessed at the University of Birmingham website.

The second and final stage of the research has now been completed and writing of the final report is underway. In September, findings from the report were used in RNIB’s joint response with Thomas Pocklington Trust to the DWP’s call for evidence regarding the PIP assessment. The final report and other resources will be available early 2017.

Reaching seldom heard groups of people with sight loss

RNIB’s recent My Voice study was one of the largest ever surveys of registered blind and partially sighted people in the UK. However, this survey could not represent all registered blind and partially sighted people. As the survey interview was carried out over the telephone some people were not able to take part, such as people with dual sensory loss, people who do not speak English fluently or people living within care homes. We also wanted to capture the views of carers who care for people with sight loss and other complex, multiple disabilities. We are carrying out a series of in-depth interviews to better understand the views and experiences of these groups, and how RNIB can best support their needs.

Transitions study: longitudinal study from age 14 of blind and partially sighted young people in the UK

The Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR) at the University of Birmingham is undertaking a 5-year longitudinal study. The current phase of the project which runs from 2012-2015 is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and is looking at the transition of blind and partially sighted young people from the age of 14 years of age through to employment or further education.

The key objectives of the project are:

  • To track the process of transition for blind and partially sighted young people from age 14 for the next five years.
  • To identify the roles of professionals involved in the transition from education to employment.
  • To identify the factors that affect a young person's chances of gaining employment.

The project involves a longitudinal survey of two groups of blind and partially sighted young people in school starting in Years 9 and 11. It is following them as they make the transition from school into further and higher education, training and employment. This project is planned to run from 2010 to 2015. For the next phase of the project, starting in 2015, we plan to work directly with the young people who are participating in the research to develop bespoke advice and information materials for young people and professionals, on transition to further and higher education, training and employment. We will also continue to follow the young people for a further three years as they move from education into employment and independent living.

More information about the Transitions study is available on the University of Birmingham's website.

Also see this article on the Media Access website on ‘Inclusive design and improving access for people with visual impairments', written by one of the Research Fellows working on the project.

Stories of blind and partially sighted people

RNIB is currently conducting a number of in-depth interviews with blind and partially sighted people to better understand the challenges and achievements of living with sight loss. These interviews will explore a number of different topic areas and will be used to support RNIB’s campaigning, fundraising and service development. The key themes arising from the interviews will also be analysed and published in a report due in mid 2016.

Further information

For further information about any of these projects please contact

Invitations for proposals

RNIB frequently commissions and carries out research studies about people with sight loss and about issues which affect their lives.

Please visit our procurement section for tender information and where invitations for proposals will be advertised.

If we are not making invitations at present, the following organisations may be worth looking into:

Fight for Sight

  • Fight for Sight has been funding research into blindness and eye disease for more than 40 years.

Research Councils UK

Wellcome Trust

  • Wellcome Trust are a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving improvements in human and animal health.

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