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The British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit (BOSU)

COVID-19 UPDATE: For a combination of practical and methodological reasons the BOSU committee has decided to suspend temporarily the distribution of yellow notification cards for the next 3 months. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ building is closed for a period of time and there will be no postal delivery or staff members to sort and enter the reports and notify researchers.  Furthermore, there will be an abnormal attendance of patients in eye departments which will affect the identification and reporting of cases. And of course most NHS clinicians will be working differently and focussing on clinical care rather than research.

We will review the situation regularly  and we will reinstate the notification process once it is appropriate to do so. We will of course work with our researchers to control for the impact of this and will extend case ascertainment periods for studies appropriately to ensure that surveillance studies remain robust and will continue to provide meaningful information for UK ophthalmologists.


Ophthalmic Surveillance Unit (BOSU) is  a system for national collection of data on rare and important disorders to support research, prevention and epidemiological assessment of ophthalmic disorders across the UK. The unit aims to facilitate research for the advancement of knowledge and improvement of the prevention and treatment of these disorders. Further benefits from our work are implications for service planning; allowing ophthalmologists to participate in peer-reviewed research and lessening the burden on reporting doctors of requests for data from numerous sources. We have also increased the awareness within both the ophthalmological community and the medical profession as a whole of the rare disorders studied; and where necessary we are positioned to respond rapidly to ophthalmic public health emergencies.

Since July 1997 the unit has continuously provided a unique resource supporting high quality epidemiological research and achieving a good publication record. We have supported over 65 different studies which have led to over 50 peer review papers, we receive consistently high levels of support and participation by UK ophthalmologists; and we continue to attract good quality applications for new studies.

Over 1300 reporting ophthalmologists participate in our active surveillance scheme. We use a methodology that has been tested in other specialties, both in the UK and internationally. We have supported surveillance for a wide range of conditions. However, rare disease surveillance is more than the systematic collection of data, the analysis and dissemination of that information to those who have contributed and all those who need to know remains an integral part of our mission. We have had great success at national and international conferences and details of all publications from BOSU studies can be are detailed in our Bibliography.

We typically have 7 or 8 conditions on the yellow card at any one time and we invite applications from ophthalmologists and others with a research interest in this area. Further information on suitable conditions and the application process can be found here.

The British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit Steering Committee

Chairman: Professor. M. R. Stanford St. Thomas’s Hospital
Miss R Mathew Moorfields Eye Hospital
Mr. S. Charles Royal Eye Hospital, Manchester
Professor J. Rahi Institute of Child Health
Dr E. M. Graham St. Thomas’s Hospital
Mr. C. Edelsten The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust
Mr T. Eke Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital
Mr D Steel Sunderland Eye Infirmary
Professor C. J. MacEwen Ninewells Hospital and Medical School
Miss C Williams Bristol Eye Hospital
Mr D. Morris University Hospital of Wales
Mr N. Davies Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
Miss G. Silvestri Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast
Mr P. Cauchi Gartnavel General Hospital
Mr R. Ling Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital
Mr M.Burdon Selly Oak Hospital
Mr B Foot Royal College of Ophthalmologists

Telephone 020 7935 0702 or use the contact form below.