Author guidelines

Everything you need to know when writing for the Community Eye Health Journal

Submission guidelines for Correspondence authors

The aim of the Correspondence section of the journal is for eye care professionals to share their experiences and to learn from those of others.

Authors are invited to submit brief reports, research abstracts or letters (no more than 550 words) on topics related to community eye health and prevention of blindness. We welcome original contributions from health workers who provide eye care at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, from planners and managers of eye care programmes, and from researchers.

Articles written in a practical, straightforward style that is easy to understand will receive preference. Wherever possible, include a high-resolution photograph or image to illustrate your article along with a caption, the country it was taken in, and the name of the photographer.

The address for submissions is:

All submissions are sent for review before being accepted for publication in the journal. Our reviewers use the following guidelines:

  • Articles must be relevant to the work of most of our readers (which include mid-level eye care personnel, ophthalmologists, eye care managers and optometrists)
  • Articles based on case studies or the authors’ experiences in the field should be written in a way that allows readers to draw lessons from it that they can apply in their own context and to their own work
  • Articles based on research should provide conclusions that will inform and/or improve the day-to-day practice or work of our readers

Articles should be written in simple English with consideration for the broad readership, many of whom have English as a second language. We will provide support for authors with English as an additional language, and no article will be declined on the basis of writing style alone.

Figures, tables and other images material are welcomed. Authors are expected to have obtained necessary agreement from publishers of previously published work as well as ethical permissions for the use of photographs (see Patient consent form). Please supply the correct credits for any photographs or illustrations.

For each author (maximum 6), please provide: full name, position: affiliation, city, country, and email address.

Articles should not have been published elsewhere unless an appropriate arrangement has been agreed and documented with the original publisher. A copy of the agreement must be attached with the article.

Submission guidelines for commissioned authors

1. Articles should be written in simple English with consideration for the broad readership, many of whom have English as a second language. Support will be provided for authors whose first language may not be English. No article will be declined on the basis of writing style alone.

2. Articles should not have been published elsewhere unless an appropriate arrangement has been agreed and documented with the original publisher.

3. Articles are accepted for review on the understanding that editorial changes may be necessary. Significant changes will be referred back to the author(s) for approval.

4. All articles are seen by two reviewers selected by the journal editorial board or the editor. Certain articles may also be referred to consulting editors or other colleagues with recognised expertise in the relevant field.

5. Articles should be typed (preferably in Word format). An electronic version should be submitted unless otherwise agreed.

6. For each author (maximum 6), please provide: full name, position: affiliation, city, country, and email address. A passport type photograph of the author(s) should be sent.

7. Length: Commissioned authors will be asked to write either one page (maximum 800 words) or two pages (maximum 1,600 words). When counting your words, make allowances for the following:

  • 1 table is roughly equivalent to 250 words (deduct from overall total accordingly)
  • 1 diagram or pie-chart is roughly equivalent to 150 words (deduct accordingly)
  • If some text is boxed, this adds 50 words to overall word count (deduct accordingly)
  • 10 references are equivalent to 200 words. (deduct accordingly).

8. Tables, graphs, line illustrations and photographs are welcomed. Each table, graph or illustration should have an appropriate caption. All numbers and figures should be checked for accuracy in the text and in tables/graphs, etc. Acknowledgements (e.g., for illustrations and photographs) should be clearly and appropriately given. Any copyright material must have written permission for re-publication and include an appropriate acknowledgement. Photographs can be prints or slides in colour or black & white. When images/photos are sent electronically, please ensure that these are scanned at a high resolution that is suitable for printing. Please send original scanned images rather than PowerPoint or Word copies as the original image may be in higher resolution. It is the responsibility of authors to obtain permission from the copyright holder and the subject(s) of any photographs. All photographs submitted should state the photographer to be credited, or the institution holding the copyright. Authors are expected to have obtained ethical permissions for the use of photographs (see Patient consent form).

9. Copyright: Community Eye Health Journal is an open access publication, available in printed format, electronically on CD-ROM and the Internet, and in regional and translated formats. All articles are distributed under the non-commercial Creative Commons License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-profit purposes, provided the original work is properly cited. Unless otherwise specified, we assume that authors give permission to use their text, images, and photographs in these ways. Authors are responsible for ensuring that articles comply with copyright and privacy laws. See Copyright for authors for more details.

10. References are the responsibility of the author and a maximum of five references may be included, unless otherwise agreed with the editor. References are usually not included in the EXCHANGE section. Authors must verify references against the original documents before submitting the article and should get permission from the source to cite personal communications. Articles with inaccurate or incomplete references may be returned to the author. The journal uses a modified version of the Vancouver style.

Note: Please use plain text for references – do not use footnotes (in Word) or EndNote.

Copyright for authors

Unless otherwise specified, authors share the copyright for their article with the Community Eye Health Journal. Authors must always be attributed alongside the journal when articles are quoted or re-used. Authors may use their own articles for profit or non-profit purposes without asking permission from the journal. Acknowledgement should be given to the journal along with a web link, where appropriate. Generally, photographers and illustrators retain copyright for images and photographs published in the journal. More information on the journal’s copyright and third party permissions policy can be found on the copyright and permissions page.

Complying with copyright and privacy laws in your article

Authors are responsible for ensuring that articles comply with copyright and privacy laws.

Use references. If you quote or copy another work in your article you should reference the source of that work. This includes your own work if it has been published elsewhere.

Obtain permission from the copyright holder before including content from another work. As well as referencing others’ work you must also obtain permission from the copyright holder before using any photo, figure or other content from another work, unless it falls within the “fair use” provision. You should also check with the publisher whether you need permission to republish your own work.

  • Who to ask for permission? Usually, you should first of all contact the publisher of the work. However, for a photograph, you should contact the person or institution named in the photo caption or in a list at the front or back of the work.
  • What to ask for? Because the Journal distributes and licenses your article widely in both print and electronic formats please ask for nonexclusive, worldwide rights in all formats and media, for one-time use from the copyright holder of the photo, figure etc. that you wish to re-use.
  • What is “fair use”? Fair use is an exception to the copyright law which allows you to quote or paraphrase brief excerpts from a work in copyright. There is no fixed rule but the use of short excerpts for purposes of evidence, criticism, review, or evaluation is generally recognized as fair use. You do not need permission to make fair use of an excerpt, but you must reference the original work.

Obtain consent from the subjects of your photographs. As a matter of good practice, photographers or videographers should receive written consent from the subjects of any photographs or digital images. Consent should be obtained for images of individual and identifiable patients. Consent would not be required for fundus photos, intra-operative pictures, or close-up photos of the anterior segment, as these would not identify the patient. However, ideally consent should be obtained for all published images.

General images of groups participating in community activities do not require written consent from the individuals, but it is considered good practice to first explain the purpose of taking photographs or video in the community and how images will be used. Those not wishing to be photographed or filmed would then have the option of removing themselves from the frame.

For images of individual patients in which their identity cannot be concealed, you must obtain the patient’s written permission. If an image is of a child, written permission must be obtained both from the child (if old enough) and from a parent or guardian. Unless absolutely necessary, images of a person who is not mentally competent to give consent should not be used. If essential, a close family member or someone else close to the patient should be asked for their view. They cannot give legal consent. Where a patient has died, permission should be obtained from next of kin.

Without written permission, clinical images showing patients should be masked, cropped or electronically distorted to render the patients unidentifiable. Black bands across the eyes are ineffective in disguising a patient’s identity.

Acknowledgement. These guidelines have been adapted from the University of California Press’s Book Copyright Guidelines.

Patient consent form

Authors, photographers and videographers may wish to use our consent form. If a patient is not literate, or speaks a different language, the consent form should be read out and carefully explained to the patient before they indicate their consent by providing a thumb print.

Download patient consent form: PDF (35Kb)

For more information on copyright and permissions for authors, please Contact us.

Writing style guide

A note about our readership: Please write in a clear, direct, and active style. The Community Eye Health Journal is an international journal, and most of our readers do not have English as their first language. Our aim is to help ophthalmologists, ophthalmic nurses, ophthalmic assistants, optometrists, general doctors, and other health workers to practice better eye care, and to understand and think about approaches to public health.


Use the active voice

Write in the active voice. “The visiting team of researchers trained the ophthalmic nurses.” Rather than: “The ophthalmic nurses were trained by the team of visiting researchers.”

Use the first person where necessary.

“During my recent visit to the United Kingdom, I saw nurses competently using sophisticated equipment.” Rather than: “During a recent visit to the United Kingdom, nurses were seen to competently use sophisticated equipment.”

Keep sentences short

Make sure your essential point is not buried within a long sentence. Two short sentences are preferable to a long sentence with embedded clauses.

“We seek to reduce visual decay to a rate that is compatible with the patient’s sighted lifetime. Progression, however measured, has therefore become the key parameter. It should be the primary outcome of any new trial.” Rather than: “Because we seek to reduce visual decay to a rate that is compatible with the patient’s sighted lifetime, progression, however measured, has become the key parameter, and should be the primary outcome of any new trial.”

Avoid noun clusters

Rather than creating a noun cluster, try to write things in full.

“Patients with diabetic retinopathy” Rather than: “Diabetic retinopathy patients”

“Studies in schools for blind children” Rather than: “Blind school studies”


Avoid using ‘he’ as a general pronoun. Make the nouns (and pronouns) plural, then use ‘they’. If that’s not possible, use ‘he or she’.

“Surgeons may be keen to convert to sutureless cataract surgery, but they may not be sure whether their surgical skills meet the criteria to master this more difficult technique.” Rather than: “A surgeon may be keen to convert to sutureless cataract surgery, but he may not be sure whether his surgical skills meet the criteria to master this more difficult technique.”

“Ask the patient to look at the smallest line he or she can see on the near chart.” Rather than: “Ask the patient to look at the smallest line he can see on the near chart.”

Singular or plural?

Nouns and verbs should agree: “The data indicate that this treatment is effective on glaucoma patients.” Rather than: “The data indicates that this treatment is effective on glaucoma patients.”

Organisations and groups of people take singular verbs:

“Our team organises a monthly outreach camp. The Bureau has four mobile eye care units. ”

“Sightsavers International has equipped the theatre and the out-patient department. ”

“The government recognises the need to train more eye health workers. ”

Watch out for misrelated clauses

Make sure the related clause and the main clause share the same subject.

“Having joined the eye care team, the ophthalmic assistant was first assigned the task of identifying patients for cataract surgery.” Rather than: “Having joined the eye care team, the first task of the ophthalmic assistant is to identify patients for cataract surgery.” (The task did not join the eye care team, the ophthalmic assistant did)



Try using as few commas as possible, but use commas before the ‘and’ and ‘or’ in lists.

“The key stakeholders from the Ministry of Health, local NGOs, international donors, and hospital administrators were invited. ”

Use commas on both sides of parenthetical clauses or phrases, and with commenting clauses.

“All new vessels in the eye, whether retinal or choroidal, grow in response to angiogenic factors. ”

Know the difference between defining clauses (no comma) and commenting clauses (commas needed).

Defining clause: “Junior team members who are afraid of appraisals often think they are going to be told off. ” (Some junior team members are afraid of appraisals)

Commenting clause: “Junior team members, who are afraid of appraisals, often think they are going to be told off. ” (All junior team members are afraid of appraisals)

Note that, when a comma is used, both main clauses must have a subject:

“The staff attended a team-building workshop, and they felt more motivated afterwards. ”

“The staff attended a team-building workshop and felt more motivated afterwards. ”


For usage in the journal, please refer to the list in the A-Z list of terms. Common hyphenated words in the journal include: co-ordination, community-based, evidence-based, follow-up (noun), cost-recovery, ready-made spectacles, etc. Non-hyphenated words include: slit lamp, policy makers, intraocular, etc.

Use a hyphen with prefixes like non- (non-clinical) and anti- (anti-metabolites), and with suffixes like -type and -like (flu-like).

Compound modifiers preceding a noun need to be hyphenated: open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, etc. However, do not hyphenate adjectival compounds beginning with an adverb ending in -ly: a newly discovered treatment, a frequently made error, etc.

“This treatment enables long-term control of intraocular pressure” (hyphen)

But: “This treatment enables intraocular pressure to be controlled in the long term” (no hyphen)

Use hyphens in spelt-out numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine: twenty-three, one hundred and thirty-eight, etc. Note that hyphens are used to connect numbers and words, whether numerals or written out, as in 28-year-old woman (e. g. twenty-eight-year-old woman)

Use hyphens in fractions: one-third, two-fourths, etc.

No spaces on either side of a hyphen: 150-200, 17-27 February, etc

Quotation marks

Use double inverted commas for reported speech. Full stops and commas go inside double quotation marks. The programme co-ordinator said “We aim to increase the cataract surgical rate. ”

Use single inverted commas to enclose an unfamiliar word or expression, or one to be used in a technical sense. Full stops and commas go outside single quotation marks.

The term ‘outreach’ as it is used today…

The fibrovascular membranes are classified either as ‘classic’ or ‘occult’.

Exclamation marks

No exclamation marks, except in quotes from other sources.

Full stops

No full stops in initials (JB Collins, AB Shah, . . . ) or abbreviations (WHO, ECOWAS, . . . ).

Italic and bold types

Regular bold type is used in the journal to emphasise words:

They provide information about what community members can do to improve eye care, but they do not focus in detail on how this can be achieved.

Foreign words should be in italics, with the exception of common Latin expressions like de facto, in situ, vice versa, etc.

A few madaris provide basic health care services to their students.

Book titles and journal names quoted within an article should be in italics, although they are not italicised within the list of references.

The State of the World’s Sight provides an insight into what has thus far been achieved in the prevention of visual impairment.

The titles of journal articles quoted within an article should be between single quotation marks.

In ‘Global data on visual impairment in the year 2002’, Resnikoff et al. emphasise the need to address uncorrected refractive errors, a frequently overlooked public health issue relevant to all age groups.

Spelling and vocabulary

English spelling

The journal uses English spelling. Please refer to the list of terms A-Z list of terms.

practice (noun)
practise (verb)
foetus and fetus are both acceptable in English, but CEJH prefers foetus.

Use s-spellings:

organisation (except for World Health Organization)


Please make minimal use of capitalisation.

Use capitals only for names and proper nouns. There are no spaces or full stops between capitals in a name (JB Collins).

Don’t capitalise names of studies.

The early manifest glaucoma trial (EMGT) was designed to address the effectiveness of lowering pressure in overt disease.


Write the expression in full the first time, followed by the abbreviation in brackets. Do not use full stops between capitals: Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

There are many people in the population with raised intraocular pressure (IOP) but no glaucoma, and people with glaucoma without raised IOP.

Preferred vocabulary

You should avoid referring to patients as diseases or disease cases.

Remember that one does not give anaesthesia, but anaesthetic. Anaesthesia is a state. The nurse administers anaesthetic, and the patient is then under anaesthesia.

Below are a few examples of preferred terms, but please refer to the list at the end of this section.

“spectacles” rather than: “glasses”

“number of cataract operations” rather than: “number of cataract surgeries”

“children who are blind” rather than: “blind children”

“international students” rather than: “overseas students”

“patients with diabetic retinopathy” rather than: “diabetic retinopathy cases”

Technical terms


Drugs should be referred to by their approved non-proprietary names, and the source of any new or experimental preparations should be given.

Scientific measurements

Scientific measurements should be given in SI units, except for blood pressure, which should be expressed in mm Hg. Always leave a space between the figure and the unit, e. g. 8 mmol/l.


Write ‘per cent’ in full, except in the case of drug formulations, e. g. povidone iodine 5%.


Please give the equivalent amount in US $.

“For cataract surgery Rs. 600 (roughly US $13) per eye is collected to meet the cost of travel and food.”


Numbers up to ten are spelt out, except when they express a measurement with a unit (8 mmol/l) or age (6 weeks old), or when in a list with other numbers (25 nurses, 11 nursing assistants, 3 ophthalmologists).

When at the beginning of a sentence, numbers are always spelt out.

“Seventy-three outreach interventions were identified, and 12 of them met the inclusion criteria.”

Raw numbers should be given alongside percentages and as supporting data for p values.

“Only 85 per cent (n=159) of GPs completed the tele-survey from start to finish. ”

Lists and tables

No full stops in tables

No full stops in lists of bullet points except at the end. Do not capitalise the first letter of each bullet point.

The courses offered are:

  • the diploma in ophthalmic nursing
  • the advanced diploma in ophthalmic surgical nursing
  • the community health nurses ophthalmic nursing course
  • optical attendants and refractionists course.


References to articles should be identified by numbers in the text and listed at the end of the paper in the order in which they first appear in the text.

Note: Please use plain text for references – do not use footnotes (in Word) or EndNote.

At the end of the article the full list of references should follow the Vancouver style, but without any italics.

Give the names and initials of all authors, unless there are more than six. When there are more than six authors, only the first six should be given, followed by ‘et al. ’.

References to journal articles

The authors’ names are followed by: the title of the article; the title of the journal abbreviated according to the style of Index Medicus; the year of publication; the volume number; and the first and last page numbers.

1 Rossetti L, Marchetti I, Orzalesi N, Scorpiglione N, Torri V, Liberati A. Randomized clinical trials on medical treatment of glaucoma. Are they appropriate to guide clinical practice? Arch Ophthalmol 1993 Jan;111(1): 96-103.

References to books

References to books should give the names of any editors, place of publication, editor, and year.

2   Kolb H, Lipetz LE. The anatomical basis for colour vision in the vertebrate retina. In: Gouras P, ed. The perception of colour. 2nd ed. London: MacMillan Press, 1991: 128-45.

References to electronic sources

Electronic citations are referenced with their URL and access date, and as much other information as is available.

Electronic journal articles:

3   Godlee F, Pakenham-Walsh N, Ncayiyanana D, Cohen B, Packer A. Can we achieve health information for all by 2015? The Lancet published online July 9, 2004 http://image. thelancet. com/extras/04art6112web. pdf (accessed 26 August 2004).


4   VISION 2020: The Right to Sight. Developing an Action Plan www. v2020. org/media_releases/V2020_Toolkit. asp (accessed 7 July 2005).


5   Friedman DS, Vedula SS. Lens extraction for chronic angle-closure glaucoma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006; Issue 3. Art. No. : CD005555. pub2. DOI: 10. 1002/14651858.

References to personal communications or unpublished manuscripts

Information from manuscripts not yet in press, papers reported at meetings, or personal communications should be cited only in the text, not as a formal reference.

Position of reference numbers

References numbers go:

after commas and full stops

before colons and semicolons

“Researchers complained that it would be unethical in a trial to randomly allocate patients with overt disease to a control group with no intervention6; however, as Smith et al. pointed out,7 they had to confront the ethical reality that the effectiveness of treatment was uncertain. 8

A-Z list of terms


“adviser” use” advisor”
“advisor” rather than “adviser”
“age-related macular degeneration” (hyphen)
“anaemia” (English spelling) rather than “anemia”
“angle-closure glaucoma” (hyphen)


“blind institutions” use “institutions for blind people”
“blind schools” use “schools for blind children”
“blind trial” use “masked trial”


“cadre” use “level” or “discipline”
“chairman” use “chair” or “chairperson”
“Christian Blind Mission International (CBMI)”
rather than “Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM)”
“Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM)”
use “Christian Blind Mission International (C”BMI)
“community-based” (hyphen)
“contra-indication” (hyphen)
“contra-lateral” (hyphen)
“co-ordination” (hyphen)
“co-ordinator” (hyphen)
“cost-recovery” (hyphen)


“decision-makers” (hyphen)
“decision-making” (hyphen)
“developing countries” consider using as an alternative “low-income countries”
“double-blind trial” use “double-masked trial”


“east” not capitalised, unless part of an accepted geographical designation
“e.g.” comma before
“email” (one word)
“et al.”
“etc.” comma before if more than one term precedes
“evidence-based” (hyphen)
“extracapsular” (one word)
“eye care”


“follow-up” (noun)
“follow up” (verb)


“glasses “use spectacles


“haemorrhage” (English spelling) rather than “hemorrhage”
“hand-held probe”
“health care”
“Helen Keller International (HKI) “
“hemorrhage” use “haemorrhage”
“high-frequency ultrasound” (hyphen)


“in-patients” (hyphen)
“international students” rather than “overseas or foreign students “
“internet” (lower case)
“intracapsular” (one word)
“intraocular” (one word)


“-like” always a hyphen when used as a suffix (flu-like symptoms)
“long-term control” (hyphen)
“LV Prasad Eye Institute”


“man hours” use “work hours”
“manpower” use “personnel or human resources”


“nerve fiber” use “nerve fibre” (English spelling)
“nerve fibre” (English spelling) rather than “nerve fiber”
“non-” always a hyphen when used as a prefix (non-clinical)
“north” not capitalised, unless part of an accepted geographical designation


“old person” use “elderly person”
“open-access publication” (hyphen)
“open-angle glaucoma” (hyphen)
“operation” rather than “surgery” (when you mean the surgical act: to perform a cataract operation)
“ORBIS International” (capitalise as shown)
“out-of-date” (hyphens)
“out-patients” (hyphen)
“overseas students” use “international students”


“PO Box”
“policy makers” (no hyphen)
“policy making” (no hyphen)
“post-operative” (hyphen)
“pre-operative” (hyphen)
“program” use “programme” (English spelling)
“programme” (English spelling) rather than “program”


“randomised” rather than randomized
“ready-made” (hyphen)
“Roll Back Malaria”


“Schiötz tonometer”
“Sight And Life” (capitalise as shown) rather than “Task Force Sight and Life ”
“Sightsavers International”
“slit lamp” (no hyphen)
“Snellen’s chart”
“socioeconomic, sociocultural “(no hyphen)
“south” not capitalised, unless part of an accepted geographical designation
“spectacles” rather than “glasses”
“subconjonctival” (no hyphen)
“sub-specialist” (hyphen)
“sub-specialty” (hyphen)
“surgery” (meaning the surgical act itself) use “operation”


“Tenon’s” (apostrophy)
“The Extended Vaccination Programme”
“Third World” use “developing countries” or “low-income countries”
“-type” always a hyphen when used as a suffix


“US $” (space between US and dollar sign)


“VISION 2020: The Right to Sight” (capitalise as shown)
“visually disabled” use “visually impaired”
“visually handicapped” use “visually impaired”


“website” (one word)
“west” not capitalised, unless part of an accepted geographical designation
“workman-like” use “professional” or “skilled”