The charity was formed in 1986 and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016. It initially operated as a registered but unincorporated charity. However, on 1 April 2014 it was incorporated as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, registered with the Charity Commission under number 1156134. The charity was originally established to fund eye research at the University of Bristol but now funds research in the leading centres of ophthalmology in universities and hospitals throughout the UK.

Since its foundation the charity has invested over £16 million in eye research.

Research funded by National Eye Research Centre enabled the establishment of corneal transplant services in Bristol and Manchester, along with the underpinning research that optimises corneal tissue for transplantation and overcomes corneal graft rejection. Over 3,500 corneal transplants are now performed in the UK every year. The charity invests in research to combat all eye diseases and causes of sight loss, including: age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and uveitis.

The charity’s patron is the Most Honourable the Marquess of Reading and its ambassador is Jade Etherington, the blind downhill skier who won four medals for Team GB at the Paralympic games in Sochi in 2014.

The charity appreciates the generous donations it receives from the many trusts, businesses and individuals who support its appeals and is particularly grateful to those individuals who generously remember the charity in their wills.