Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Studying impact of virus on the visually impaired

Published: 5 May 2020 at 12:47

Woman on a treadmill

Participants needed to understand how lockdown is affecting physical activity

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) is investigating how COVID-19 is affecting the physical activity of people who are blind or visually impaired.

The researchers are wanting UK adults with vision impairment to take part in an online survey  to help gauge how physical activity habits have changed since the lockdown began in March.

The study, which is being led by ARU’s Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences alongside academics from Northumbria University and the University Paris-Saclay, aims to understand the changes that have recently taken place in order to better support this group of people now as well as learn important lessons for the future.

Dr Dan Gordon, Principal Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at ARU and a former GB Paralympian, said:

“Everyone has had to make significant changes to how they live their lives, but adjusting to changes in daily routines can take time for people with visual impairments. 

“This group have had to adjust very quickly and social distancing for the visually impaired is particularly difficult.  Therefore, it is important we understand how these individuals, who because of their condition are often socially isolated, are coping, particularly in relation to physical exercise.” 


The survey, which takes between 20-30 minutes to complete, can be accessed at https://angliaruskin.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/covid-19-physical-activity-in-the-uk-in-a-blind-and-visual 

Meanwhile, in an article in Eye, the official journal of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Professor Peter Allen and Dr Lee Smith from ARU have set out five recommendations to help with the mental as well as physical impact of self-isolation on people with vision impairment.

In their comment piece, they write that people with vision impairment. have an increased risk of depression, decreased mobility, and higher rates of poverty compared to the general population.  Among their recommendations are online support groups and specific programmes to help with physical and mental health.  The open access article can be read here https://www.nature.com/articles/s41433-020-0917-x


Coronavirus research at ARU

We've responded to the coronavirus pandemic by leading research projects into health, wellbeing and interventions. Read more about the work of our Covid-19 Research Group.

Reader in Physical Activity and Public Health at ARU, Dr Lee Smith, has been leading research on COVID-19's impact on behaviour and mental health. Read more about Dr Smith's COVID-19 and wellbeing research group.