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School of Optometry and Vision Science


Postgraduate Profiles

Tina Gao

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Tina Gao

"I graduated from the Bachelor of Optometry program at the University of Auckland with First Class Honours. Following graduation I worked for two years (2012-2014) in private practice in New Plymouth, honing my skills as a clinical full-scope optometrist.

"I returned to Auckland in March 2014 to begin my PhD at the School of Optometry. My main topic of research is amblyopia (commonly called 'lazy eye'), with a focus on binocular vision and associated areas of visual neuroscience. The main project in my PhD was the Binocular treatment for amblyopia using videogame (BRAVO) international clinical trial. In this study we tested a new videogame-based treatment for amblyopia for children and adults. This trial has study sites in Auckland, New Zealand; Melbourne, Australia; Waterloo and Montreal in Canada; and Hong Kong. The BRAVO study has concluded recruitment as of 31 May 2016. The final results of the two phases of the study (optical treatment and videogame treatment) were published in January 2018. From my PhD I have learnt a great deal about clinical trials, which are the highest standard of evidence in medicine/health research. I have also developed my skills in more basic science research, statistics, programming, and psychophysics.

"I am starting post-doctoral research in 2018 with two projects: one with Prof Steven Dakin, working on examining eye movements and alignment in strabismus (squint or eye turn) and a second project examining perceived image size differences in patients who need to wear glasses to treat anisometropic amblyopia. This is a continuation of my PhD research into amblyopia and its associated conditions, and I hope that it will lead to better outcomes for patients – both children and adults."

Safal Khanal

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Safal Khanal

"I did my undergraduate training in Nepal at Tribhuvan University and graduated with Bachelors of Optometry degree in 2012 before moving to the Philippines, where I completed my Doctor of Optometry training. Following graduation, I worked in a private practice and a conjoint optometry-ophthalmology clinic in Nepal, besides volunteering for several eye-care missions.

"During my time in clinical practice and community optometry, I came across many patients with myopia (near-sightedness)—a progressive sight-threatening condition with no effective treatment. I then contacted Dr John Phillips at the Auckland Myopia Lab with an interest in undertaking research, which could inform ways to effectively reduce and treat myopia.

"Currently, I am studying towards a PhD degree in the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Auckland, where I am applying my optometry skills and utilizing advanced imaging techniques to research various treatment methods for myopia."

Duncan Wu

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Duncan Wu

"I originally started my academic studies by enrolling in a BSc specialising in Biomedical Science at the University of Auckland back in 2010.  However, I found my passion was Engineering Science as I was interested in mathematical modelling, physics and computational modelling.

"I therefore went on to complete a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree and envisaged I would look for a software development job. However, two things changed this direction.  The first of these was the diagnosis of a cataract in my right eye which got me interested in the topic of lens physiology and cataract formation.  The second was whilst doing a Biomedical Engineering summer studentship in 2012-2013, I found my true passion – employing techniques in Computational Fluid Dynamics to solve biomedical problems.

"I am now undertaking a PhD in the School of Optometry and Vision Science where I can employ my skills learnt in engineering together with my interest in vision science to pursue research on the computational modelling of the lens."

Postgraduate Students