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Research at NEI

NEI is a leader in vision research. In addition to the work we do in our own facilities, we support outside research that advances the prevention and treatment of eye diseases and vision problems.

The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the lead federal agency for vision research, fostering scientific breakthroughs at the frontiers of vision research.

Research conducted at NEI (Intramural Research Program)

The NEI intramural research program conducts research in vision science and ophthalmology at our laboratories and clinical center located on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. We also develop the next generation of vision researchers through institutional research training and clinician-scientist development. The intramural program functions as an in-house resource of scientists and clinicians tackling high-risk, high-reward research.  Learn about our research labs, current projects, and staff

Research funded by NEI

NEI funds research and training opportunities at universities, medical centers, and other institutions both across the country and around the world through research grants, career development awards, and other mechanisms. We support about 2,100 research grants and training awards to scientists across more than 150 institutions worldwide. Learn more about funding opportunities

Woman getting an eye exam.

Join a research study or learn about our clinical trials

Clinical studies — research studies that involve people — can help researchers learn more about eye problems. One type of study, called a clinical trial, helps researchers try out new ways to find and treat eye diseases.

Researchers in a lab doing an experiment

Fellowships and training

Be a part of our research! NEI has career opportunities for vision researchers and internships, fellowships, and other training programs for students and professionals at our labs in Bethesda, MD.

Research Laboratory

Collaborations and Partnerships (Technology Transfer)

The NEI Technology Transfer Office facilitates collaborative relationships between NEI investigators and the broader scientific community.


Want to learn more about NEI’s research? Interested in getting involved? Get in touch with NEI’s Division of Intramural Research.

Research News

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Human iPSC-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).

UC Irvine study shows similarities and differences in human and insect vision formation

Researchers have discovered profound similarities and surprising differences between humans and insects in the production of the critical light-absorbing molecule of the retina, 11-cis-retinal, also known as the “visual chromophore.”
Glaucoma and the optic nerve

Researchers identify genes and cell types that may have causal role in primary open-angle glaucoma formation

In a new study, researchers conducted a comprehensive study that uncovered key genes, biological processes and cell types that may affect the pathogenesis of primary open angle glaucoma, in intraocular pressure-dependent and independent manners.
fundus photo showing diabetic retinopathy

Some ethnic groups at higher risk for retinal damage from diabetes

Researchers at Indiana University School of Optometry found that individuals are at different risks for retinal damage from diabetes, with certain ethnic groups and males being at a greater risk.

Last updated: January 16, 2024