Personal information

Ruth van Nispen

My name is Ruth M.A. van Nispen; assistant professor, senior researcher at the department of ophthalmology and the EMGO+ (Excellence Institute) at the VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Together with prof. Ger H.M.B. van Rens, I manage the Low Vision Research group at the ophthalmology department.


  • supervisor of PhD candidates
  • supervisor of medical and health science students
  • coordinator of education and scientific internships for medical students
  • chair EMGO+ PhD committee
  • board member Privacy Protection and Information Safety (PB&IB VUmc) 
  • board member International Society of Rehabilitation and Research
  • chair Dutch Society of Rehabilitation and Visual Disability (
  • editorial boards Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, Acta Ophthalmologica

Short biography
I have a background in psychology and epidemiology. My research career started at the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL, Utrecht) where I worked a couple of years as a junior researcher on various projects. Main topics were quality of care and quality of life in different populations. At ophthalmology, the main topic of my PhD-study (2005-2008) was to investigate the longitudinal effects of rehabilitation on the quality of life of visually impaired elderly. In July 2010, I received the EMGO+ Quality of Care Fellowship for two years.


  • PhD-thesis: “Longitudinal measurement of the older patient’s vision-related quality of life”, VU University, Amsterdam (18 June, 2009; Promotores: prof.dr. van Rens; prof.dr. Ringens; dr. Knol)
  • Epidemiology: VU University Medical Center and the EMGO Institute, Amsterdam (MSc: 2007)
  • Clinical Psychology: University of Amsterdam (MA: 1998). Internship at the department of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology at The Netherlands Cancer Institute / Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

In general, our research focuses on enhancing care in the relatively new field of low vision rehabilitation. There is an urgent need for evidence-based protocols and interventions for visually impaired elderly patients. Our research group closely collaborates with rehabilitation centers for the visually impaired (Royal Dutch Visio and Bartiméus) in mutual scientific research. Currently, we are investigating the effects of specific rehabilitation programs on quality of life and psychosocial functioning. Examples are three PhD-studies in which the effects of rehabilitation protocols are tested in randomized trials (a reading aid training protocol, a stepped-care protocol to reduce anxiety and depression, and a dual sensory loss protocol for older patients with combined vision and hearing loss). Another example is a study to improve the referral of depressed visually impaired elderly (2009-2010).
In addition, we have done a lot of research concerning the validity and reliability of vision-related quality of life questionnaires using modern psychometric theories (IRT), but also the development of a computer-based instrument to investigate rehabilitation needs and participation from visually impaired patients’ perspectives (children, young and older adults). Our latest validation project concerns various reading charts for use in clinical practice and scientific research.

PhD projects:

  • Fatigue in visual impairment: development of an intervention; W. Schakel, MSc; 2015-2016.
  • Prevalence of Low Vision and Blindness in Suriname; J Minderhoud, MSc, MD; 2013-2016; expected defence 2017
  • Development of the Participation and Activity Inventory for Children and Youth (PAI-CY) and Young Adults (PAI-YA): E. Elsman, MSc; 2015-2018; expected defence 2018
  • Stepped-care to prevent depression and anxiety disorder in visually impaired older adults: a randomized controlled trial: H.P.A. van der Aa, MSc; 2012-2015; expected defense 2016
  • The Dutch Reading Test Study: T. Verkerk-Brussee, BSc; 2011; expected defense 2016
  • Dual sensory impairment in the older patient: a randomized controlled trial to the effectiveness of a Dual Sensory Loss-protocol: H.L. Vreeken, MSc; 2011-2013; expected defense 2015
  • Development of the Dutch Activity Inventory to investigate rehabilitation needs and outcomes of visually impaired older patients: J.E. Bruijning, PhD; defence April 2013
  • Effects of a training protocol on the use of closed circuit televisions in a randomized controlled trial: M.C. Burggraaff, MD, PhD; defence January 2013