£569k NIHR funding for VISION Orthoptics Research Unit

Professor Fiona Rowe

The University of Liverpool’s VISION group, who evaluate visual impairment in acquired brain injury and neurological conditions, have been awarded £569k by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). 

The group, led by Professor Fiona Rowe (pictured above) and colleagues, works to explore and develop outcome measures in orthoptics, and explore the complexity of co-existent visual and functional impairments.

This funding will help the group to address inequalities in the care and services provided by hospital and community eye clinics that cover a range of clinical assessments and management options. These usually focus on eye conditions that either occur from being present at birth, from abnormal development of visual pathways in early childhood, and those which present during childhood or adult years.

These conditions include ocular motility defects (impaired eye movements), visual impairment (reduced central and/or peripheral vision) and visual perception disorders (difficulty making sense of visual information). They are very common, from infants to the elderly and can cause considerable impact to life including impaired school achievements, limited job opportunities, social isolation, depression and increased risk of falls and injuries. Health inequalities exist, such as where service provision is ad hoc and not the same across different areas of the country.  

Fight for Sight’s Time to Focus report, launched in 2020 revealed that: 

  • Workforce barriers and informal care for those with sight loss having huge impact on the UK economy – with the economic cost of sight loss now priced at £25.2 billion a year. 
  • The cost could rise to £33.5 billion by 2050. 
  • Quality of life of people with severe sight loss lower than that of people with depression, arthritis, and advanced breast cancer. 
  • Reducing the prevalence of eye conditions by just one percent per year could avoid costs to the UK economy of up to £3.1 billion by the end of the decade. 
  • The UK is a world leader in eye research, and Fight for Sight-funded research also has high impact. For example, UK eye research receives over 10 percent more citations than the world average, and Fight for Sight-funded research is cited 80 percent more. 

In recent years, UK and worldwide organisations have asked patients, the public, clinicians and researchers what is important to them. These findings have identified important areas in which eye care must be improved.  

The VISION group plans to address a number of these through two carefully designed evidence synthesis reviews, using different methods to assess the evidence. These will be: 

1) Methods of service delivery for people with visual impairment due to acquired brain injury 

2) Methods of service delivery for children with cerebral visual impairment 

These two large topic areas will be reviewed using analyses from different viewpoints to bring together the evidence from complex healthcare systems with publication of detailed reports.  

The VISION group are planning reviews that address how patients are best informed, assessed and offered person-centred, effective care through eye care and wider care services.  These will be published as two monograph reports which will be accessible to patients, the public, clinicians and researchers. The impact of these reviews will be made possible through VISION’s work with networks including professional societies, health organisations and charities, in terms of future changes to national guidelines and changes to services based on the recommendations. 

Read more about VISION group 

Explore Research at Liverpool