The Vision and Eye Research Unit (VERU) was recognised as world-leading for its research in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. VERU was recognised for its high-quality research outputs and research environment. In addition, VERU’s research has directly impacted on healthcare policymakers and professionals, charities and economic analysts around the world, leading its impact to be rated as 100% world-leading and internationally excellent. It has enjoyed considerable growth since 2009 evidenced by a doubling in the number of academic staff and PhD student completions, and a more than a two-and-a-half times increase in research income in the last five years.
Professor Bourne leads the Vision Loss Experts Group (VLEG) which is part of the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBDS). VLEG compiled the most up-to-date statistics ever generated on the prevalence of global blindness, facilitating the analysis of trends and risk factors, and producing detailed future projections. The VLEG data have become a significant resource in health analyses by economists and healthcare planners such as the WHO, World Bank, Price Waterhouse Coopers, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Economic Forum, enabling these organisations to provide recommendations for eyehealth policies and practices. These reports predict the socio-economic impact of visual impairment in the world and provide an insight into the economic return on investments in eye-health treatment programmes.
Professor Pardhan’s research has enhanced the healthcare offered to diabetic patients of South Asian origin, in the UK and overseas. The prevalence of diabetes in England alone is predicted to increase by 47% by 2025 and the prevalence of diabetes within the South Asian group is six times higher than in Caucasians. Our findings showed an increased risk of sight-threatening eye disease and poor engagement with screening/treatment regimes. These data provided important underlying evidence leading to dedicated community-based eye care programmes funded by the Royal National Institute of Blind People and the Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund (Department of Health). Healthcare practitioners have used the research to target various physiological and cultural factors that influence diabetic control and eye health in the South Asian population.
VERU’s strategy is to support research projects which have a high potential for changing healthcare practice. It places substantial emphasis on driving innovation by bringing together multi-disciplinary laboratory based researchers and clinicians in order to improve patient related outcomes.