A number of studies have measured the outcomes of low vision care but these have usually been longitudinal case series, thus constituting very low quality of evidence for effectiveness. To date, there have been no randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which have evaluated the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of different models of care in low vision. The size of the low vision population and the paucity of systematic evaluation have created a pressing need for evidence about cost-effectiveness in order to inform service developments for low vision rehabilitation. This paper describes the study design and methodology of a three-arm RCT currently under way in Manchester. The baseline population recruited is also described. A traditional hospital-based optometric service is being compared with an integrated service (comprising the addition of community-based rehabilitation officer input) and with more generic community input (which is non-integrated and is not vision specific). A wide range of outcome measures are being assessed at recruitment and 12 months post-intervention, including low vision specific and generic quality of life measures, patterns of low vision aid use, and task performance. The rationale for the trial is discussed and the main study outcomes are described.