Bonnielin Swenor, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Headshot of Bonnielin Swenor
  • Director of the Johns Hopkins University Disability Health Research Center
  • Joint Appointment in Ophthalmology


Epidemiology, Ophthalmology

Research Interests

Ophthalmology; Visual impairment; Low Vision; Disability; Aging; Epidemiology more


Bonnielin Swenor is an associate professor at The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Wilmer Eye Institute and in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, which aims to shift the paradigm from ‘living with a disability’ to ‘thriving with a disability’ through research, education, and policy.  

Dr. Swenor’s research is motivated by her personal experience with low vision. Her work takes a data-driven approach to advancing health equity for people with disabilities. To achieve this, she focuses on three areas: (1) developing novel methods to assess and track health and healthcare inequities for people with disabilities; (2) testing innovative strategies to reduce these inequities, and (3) building approaches that promote disability inclusion in research and higher education. more


  • Director of the Johns Hopkins University Disability Health Research Center
  • Core Faculty Member at the Johns Hopkins University Center on Aging and Health
  • Joint Appointment in Ophthalmology

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • M.P.H.; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Maryland) (2009)
  • Ph.D.; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Maryland) (2013)
  • B.S.; Pennsylvania State University (Pennsylvania) (2001)

Additional Training

  • National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD/USA, 2014

Research & Publications


The Swenor Research Group aims to improve the health of people with visual impairments and is fueled by Dr. Swenor's personal experience living with a visual disability. To achieve this, Dr. Swenor and her team have concentrated on three interrelated areas:

Vision and Aging: examining the impact of visual impairments on health and well-being across the lifespan, with a focus on older adults

Access to Care: documenting health care disparities and improving healthcare utilization, quality, and access in patients with vision loss

Disability Inclusion: enhancing the inclusion of persons with visual impairments and other disabilities in the biomedical workforce.

Dr. Swenor is now expanding on this research framework to more broadly examine disability health. This area of research examines disability – including visual impairment - as a health disparity population, and uses an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to establish the evidence needed to design effective policies and programs that will reduce disability health disparities. The overarching goals of this research are to maximize health, equity, and participation for persons with all types of disabilities.

Lab Website: Swenor Research Group

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Epstein S, Ayers K, Swenor BK. COVID-19 vaccine prioritisation for people with disabilities. Lancet Public Health. 2021 Apr 21:S2468-2667(21)00093-1.  

Swenor BK, Ehrlich JR. Ageing and vision loss: looking to the future. Lancet Glob Health. 2021 Apr;9(4):e385-e386.  

Assi L, Varadaraj V, Shakarchi AF, Sheehan OC, Reed NS, Ehrlich JR, Swenor BK. Association of Vision Impairment With Preventive Care Use Among Older Adults in the United States. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2020 Dec 1;138(12):1298-1306. 

Swenor BK, Wang J, Varadaraj V, Rosano C, Yaffe K, Albert M, Simonsick EM. Vision Impairment and Cognitive Outcomes in Older Adults: The Health ABC Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Aug 16;74(9):1454-1460

Swenor BK, Lee MJ, Varadaraj V, Whitson HE, Ramulu PY. Aging With Vision Loss: A Framework for Assessing the Impact of Visual Impairment on Older Adults. Gerontologist. 2019 Aug 24. pii: gnz117

Varadaraj V, Frick KD, Saaddine JB, Friedman DS, Swenor BK. Trends in Eye Care Use and Eyeglasses Affordability: The US National Health Interview Survey, 2008-2016. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019 Apr 1;137(4):391-398

Swenor B, Meeks LM. Disability Inclusion - Moving Beyond Mission Statements. N Engl J Med. 2019 May 30;380(22):2089-2091.

Contact for Research Inquiries

600 N. Wolfe Street
Wilmer 116
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Phone: 410-614-2874

Videos & Media

  • Play Video:

    On the Front Lines of Low Vision

  • Play Video:

    A Woman's Journey Baltimore 2019 | High Sights for Low Vision

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

How Vision Loss Can Affect the Brain - New York Times (Sept. 2021)

To Fix America's Broken Health Care System, We Must Rethink Who Counts as an Expert - TIME (Jun. 2021)

COVID-19 Age-Based Vaccine Rules Come Under Fire - The Wall Street Journal (Mar. 2021)

Johns Hopkins Launches Vaccine Prioritization Dashboard for People with Disabilities - JHU Hub (Feb. 2021)

They thought they’d be near the front of the line for the vaccine. Now, they don’t know where they stand - The Washington Post (Feb. 2021)

'Textbook Case' of Disability Discrimination in Grant Applications - Nature Index (Jan. 2021)

Dearth of Disability-Related COVID-19 Data Can Confound Response Efforts - STAT (Jun. 2020)

The Hidden Struggles America's Disabled are Facing During the Coronavirus Pandemic - CNBC (May 2020)

Striving for Inclusivity in COVID-19 Public Health Messaging - Patient Engagement (May 2020)

Covid-19 poses unique challenges for people with disabilities - The Hub (Apr. 2020)

Fewer US researchers are disclosing medical disabilities on NIH grant applications - Nature (Mar. 2020)

Study Finds Increase in Medical Students' Disclosures of Disabilities - (Nov. 2019)

What Medicine Can Learn From Doctors and Researchers with Disabilities - NPR (Jun. 2019)

How to Improve Care for Patients with Disabilities? We Need More Providers Like Them - JHM News (Jun. 2019)

High Sights for Low Vision - Hopkins Medicine (Winter 2019)

Losing Vision and Gaining Perspective - JAMA (Feb. 2019)

Patient Ratings & Comments

The Patient Rating score is an average of all responses to physician related questions on the national CG-CAHPS Medical Practice patient experience survey through Press Ganey. Responses are measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best score. Comments are also gathered from our CG-CAHPS Medical Practice Survey through Press Ganey and displayed in their entirety. Patients are de-identified for confidentiality and patient privacy.

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