Animal Research Policy

Every 6 minutes, someone in the UK receives the devastating news that they are going blind, and there are already 2.5 million people today living with visual impairment that significantly affects their daily lives. Without further investment in research, by 2050, that number will have soared to 3.5 million. We must do all we can to find better ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating blinding conditions.

We are committed to ensuring that research findings progress robustly from the laboratory to the clinic. In many cases, the research that we fund will already be carried out in a clinical setting involving human patients and healthy volunteers. However, for some projects, if there are no valid alternatives, we fund research which uses small animals such as zebrafish, mice, and rats.

Much of the progress made to date in finding new treatments for eye conditions has been thanks to research which used animal models in its early phases of research. While alternatives are being considered all the time, research using animals will continue to be needed. 

The scientific research we fund is carried out in UK universities which already abide by the UK's animal research regulatory requirement, one of the strictest systems across the world when it comes to the welfare of laboratory animals. 

In accordance to the UK's regulations, we ask every applicant to justify their proposed use of animals in their research projects, and we specifically ask how they have considered the 3Rs, which are: 

  • Replace the use of animals with alternative research methods and where possible avoid the use of animals altogether.
  • Reduce the number of animals used.
  • Refine how animal-based experiments are carried out to minimise any suffering and to improve animal welfare.

All our research strictly abides by rules set out by the Home Office and we are fully committed to these principles. This means that animals can only be used when there is no alternative that could produce the same results. As a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities, we support their position on animal research together with their Concordat on Openness in Animal Research and, as such, we have committed to be open and clear about our use of animals in research in our external communications.