The College of Optometrists is the professional body for optometrists. It qualifies the profession and delivers the guidance, development and training to ensure optometrists provide the best possible care to the public.

The College believes in professional excellence in eye health. We are raising standards of optometric education and practice by providing the necessary evidence base for optometry and related subjects through our delivery, commissioning and support for essential research in the field.


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Research Strategic Objectives

A. Be a transformative source of research funding in optometry, supporting research that will improve the profession for the public benefit, in university, hospital and practice settings, and developing the researchers of the future. By:

  • Supporting university researchers at undergraduate, postgraduate and new lecturer levels.
  • Providing practice-based research funding for clinically-focused research.
  • Giving Research Excellence Awards to raise the profile of quality optometric research.

B. Continually update optometric practice, by collating, and reviewing, new and existing evidence and proposing its implications for clinicians. By:

  • Undertaking or supporting literature reviews and evidence summaries, and promoting their conclusions for practice.
  • Responding to areas of contention by providing evidence-based guidance on practice options.
  • Supporting initiatives that promote good research governance, practice and dissemination.

C. Develop a research culture amongst our members, through up-skilling in interpreting research methods and findings. By:

  • Producing CPD materials and discussion pieces.
  • Providing research advice and guidance directly in response to member queries.
  • Encouraging ‘clinician scientists’ through support for, and the promotion of, research that members can contribute to.

D. Maximise the visibility and impact of our funded research. By:

  • Building and supporting an Alumni Network of current and previous College-funded researchers, and providing help in getting their research to practising clinicians.
  • Producing briefings that summarise College-funded research for member, policy and public audiences.
  • Evaluating the impact of what we fund and measuring it against priorities for patient eye care.

E. Provide a home for high-quality, independent scientific research in the field of optometry, through the publication of an international journal, Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics (OPO). By:

  • Continuing to publish high-quality, peer-reviewed research in OPO.
  • Providing a dedicated home for research in optometry and other specific areas within vision science.
  • Working towards viable models of publication that allow for maximum access for researchers.

F.    Support research, or provide analysis or data, to inform the College’s strategic decision-making. By: 

  • Supporting initiatives and consortia with the aim of increasing optometry’s access to research council funding.
  • Commissioning projects to acquire evidence in areas prioritised by the College’s Research Committee.
  • Evaluating data from ongoing College programmes.

How we will evaluate our success

  • Maintain the number of Scholarship applications.
  • Increase the number of Small Grant Scheme applications.
  • Increase the number of Research Excellence Award nominations.
  • Provide collations of evidence that underpin most areas of practice, including where there is currently limited evidence.
  • Increase understanding of, and use of, research by some members.
  • Answer research queries within one week.
  • Increase the number of members who have taken part in research that we have led or promoted.
  • Evaluate our funding awards for achievements and impact to date.
  • Maintain OPO’s position as the top optometry journal in the world.
  • Make recommendations to other College departments based on data evaluations.

The funding we provide

  • Research and Clinical Research Fellowships: career development awards to support both the optometric researchers of the future, and work that will contribute to the public benefit.
  • Postgraduate Scholarships: to provide part-time and full-time PhDs exclusively in the area of optometry and vision science, prioritised to UK optometry departments.
  • Undergraduate Research Scholarships: to support protected time for undergraduates to experience research, and develop the PhD candidates of the future.
  • Travel Bursaries: to support UK optometric research to continue to be a part of the international optometric community.
  • Small Grants: to support optometrists in practice to undertake small, practice-based research projects, supported by methodological and statistical advice.


The role of the Research Committee

The College’s Research Committee monitors the implementation of the Research Strategy, determines the College’s research priorities and makes recommendations for the College’s research spending. It ensures that the College continues to work towards the implementation of all elements of the Research Strategy throughout the two-year period, and that any available funds are spent on the priorities agreed in a sustainable fashion.

Prioritised areas of research for commissioned projects

The following areas will be the focus of any projects the College chooses to fund outside of its Scholarship programme, and will also be prioritised when considering involvement in funding proposals by other organisations to external funders:

  • Refractive development in childhood.
  • Treatment/management of presbyopia.
  • Eye care for vulnerable populations, including people with dementia.
  • Mechanisms to improve the public health aspects of eye care, including equality of access.
  • Improving understanding of sight’s relationship to falls.

Supporting others

As well as the work covered in this Strategy, we also provide Letters of Support for projects being undertaken by others that we wish to see funded. For more, see our separate Letters of Support Policy.

How we work - the College values

These values reflect the way College staff, members and fellows carry out their daily work:

  • We act with honesty and integrity.
  • We work in a fair, open and transparent way.
  • We encourage, listen to and act upon feedback.
  • We provide high quality services.
  • We embrace diversity and people’s differences, and recognise each individual’s contributions.
  • We show support and consideration in our dealings with colleagues.
  • We are committed to our own personal and professional development.