Visual impairment

Visual impairment in Stroke Survivors

Identifying and addressing unmet needs

Project reference number: SHLS2018002

Applications are invited for a full-time PhD research studentship at Glasgow Caledonian University within the School of Health and Life Sciences. The studentship of £19,100 per year is for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress. The studentship covers the payment of tuition fees (currently £4,300 for UK/EU students or £15,000 for International students) plus an annual stipend of £14,800 for UK/EU students or an annual scholarship of £4,100 for International students.


Visual impairment is a persisting problem for around 240,000 people in the UK1. Around one fifth of stroke survivors have visual field loss, making them blind (in both eyes) to one side of space. This has a huge impact on daily life: mobility and navigation are difficult, causing reluctance to leave the house; reading and driving problems impact on return to work; psychological consequences include anxiety, fear and a lack of confidence2. Support services are extremely inconsistent3 and as a result stroke survivors with visual impairment have a range of unmet needs.


The aims of this project are to:

  1. Identify the unmet needs of community dwelling stroke survivors with visual impairment.
  2. Develop an intervention to address these, likely a training course, focusing on how to adapt to visual impairment, and including peer support.
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of this intervention.


The project will likely use mixed methods. The unmet needs of stroke survivors will be explored using qualitative methods, possibly semi-structured interviews. These results will be analysed thematically, perhaps using framework methods facilitated by nVivo software. The intervention would be co-produced with stroke survivors, carers and vision and stroke professionals from NHS, Social Care and Charity organisations. It would potentially involve focus groups to explore issues including the content, timing and method of delivery, and workshops to develop and refine the intervention and materials. We plan to work closely with RNIB Scotland, The Stroke Association and Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland in this stage. Evaluation will explore both the effectiveness of the intervention in addressing unmet needs and the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention.

Impact & Value

This project will produce a novel intervention with wide applicability across the UK. It would be co-constructed with local vision charities (RNIB Scotland, Visibility) and stroke organisations (The Stroke Association Scotland, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland). It could be hosted by a third sector organization, providing a referral opportunity for existing clinical services, including GCU Eye Clinic’s Neuro-Vision clinic.

The intervention will likely improve stroke survivor’s quality of life by (i) increasing their ability to adapt and cope with practical implications of their visual impairment, and (ii) providing social and emotional support from others who have similar experiences. On a wider level, this could reduce the burden both on family and carers and have economic benefits through reducing the health care resources needed. We would explore the possibility of delivering the intervention online, making it accessible to others beyond the UK.

If the intervention was feasible and reported as beneficial it could be evaluated in future RCT(s).


  1. Ali M, Hazelton C, Lyden P, et al. Recovery From Poststroke Visual Impairment: Evidence From a Clinical Trials Resource. Neurorehabil Neural Repair 2013; 27: 133–141.
  2. Hazelton C. Visual Field Loss after Stroke: a mixed methods exploration of scanning training interventions (Doctoral Thesis). Glasgow Caledonian University, 2016.
  3. Rowe F. Care provision and unmet need for post stroke visual impairment Final report.
  4. McKevitt C, Fudge N, Redfern J, et al. UK Stroke Survivor Needs Survey. UK: The Stroke Association, 2010.

Application deadline

The closing date for applications is Friday 2nd November 2018.

Research supervisors

Candidates are encouraged to contact the following researchers for further details:

Modes of study

The studentship is available as a 3 years full-time PhD starting February 2019.


A minimum English language level of IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) with no element below 6.0 is required.

Specific requirements of the project

The successful applicant will have either:

  1. An honours degree (2.1 or above) in a subject relevant to the project such as Optometry, Orthoptics, Occupational Therapy.
  2. A Masters degree in a subject relevant to the research project
  3. A professional qualification related to vision or stroke rehabilitation (e.g. Diploma of Higher Education in Rehabilitation Studies) AND appropriate research experience

Previous experience of qualitative research methodology is desirable.

How to Apply

Candidates are encouraged to contact the research supervisor(s) for the project before applying. Applicants should apply online, stating the Project Title and Reference Number listed above in the application process and attaching copies of academic qualifications (including IELTS if required), 2 references and any other relevant documentation.

Applicants shortlisted for a PhD studentship will be contacted for an interview

The closing date for applications is Friday 2nd November 2018.

Interviews are expected to take place week commencing Monday 26th November 2018.