Eye health research

  • Every day 250 people start to lose their sight.
  • One in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime.
  • The number of people with sight loss is increasing. By 2050 it will double to over four million people.
  • 25 per cent of UK adults have not had an eye test in two years or more.

Public health messages on the consequences of smoking, obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure rarely highlight that an outcome could be the loss of your sight. Ensuring people access eye care services appropriately and are supported to take medicines as needed are crucial elements to preventing avoidable sight loss.The statistics above are taken from Incidence and risk of sight loss and blindness in the UK and State of the Nation 2017. These reports can be found below along with further research on eye health in the UK.

Incidence and risk of sight loss and blindness in the UK

Deloitte Access Economics was commissioned by RNIB to estimate the incidence and lifetime risk of sight loss across the UK in 2016-17 using prevalence and mortality rates. 

The State of the Nation Eye Health 2017: A Year in Review

In September 2016 RNIB and Specsavers joined in partnership to transform eye health in the UK. One year on, The State of the Nation Eye Health 2017: A Year in Review presents the key achievements of the partnership to date, along with new information on the incidence of sight loss and attitudes towards eye health in the UK.

Diabetic eye disease: A UK Incidence and Prevalence Study

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of visual impairment and blindness in the UK, particularly among working age people. This research report investigates trends in prevalence and incidence of diabetic retinopathy in the UK.

BME Eye Health Care in Wales

Eye health care in Wales: Increasing awareness of eye health and primary eye health care to people from at risk Black and Minority Ethnic communities.

The State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016

The State of the Nation 2016 report contains the latest research and evidence on the state of eye health in the UK in 2016. It contains the data and insight that commissioners, policy makers, service providers and professionals working in the health, care and voluntary sectors need in order to make a difference. 

Expanding community eye care for glaucoma: a pilot Ophthalmic Diagnostic and Treatment Centre

This research briefing describes a pilot in South Wales which explored barriers to accessing eye care services and sought to identify potential interventions to prevent avoidable sight loss.

Service innovation to help people live well with diabetes and reduce sight loss

This research briefing describes a pilot in Bradford to help people live well with diabetes and reduce sight loss.

A glaucoma case finding pilot with the African Caribbean community

This research briefing describes a pilot glaucoma case finding service based in the London borough of Hackney, targeting the African Caribbean community.

Access to primary and secondary eye care

In 2011, RNIB commissioned the independent research organisation Shared Intelligence to explore the barriers and enablers that affect access to primary and secondary eyecare services across the UK. The research was commissioned to help design a range of evidence-based eye health pilots. 

Estimated prevalence of visual impairment among people with learning disabilities in the UK

Although there is considerable research evidence that visual impairments are more common among people with learning disabilities, there is no robust epidemiological data on the prevalence of visual impairments in people with learning disabilities in the UK. Consequently there has been no overall estimate of the number of people with learning disabilities in the UK with seeing difficulties. This report examines this.

External research

Special eye health edition of Public Health journal

RNIB edited a special eye health edition of the international peer reviewed journal Public Health, published February 2015. The edition focuses on eye health in the UK with a particular emphasis on eye health inequalities. The whole patient pathway is addressed including articles on: the role of optometrists providing smoking cessation advice; the barriers facing older people living in deprivation trying to access eye examinations; the use of electronic referrals to improve access to secondary care; mapping area deprivation and age related macular degeneration; physical activity among older people with sight loss.