School of Optometry and Vision Science
Academic staff conduct world-leading research spanning vision science. Starting with basic science – understanding how things work – visual neuroscience explores the extensive brain systems that support vision. This discipline combines diverse but complementary techniques such as physiology (studying cells in the eye and brain), human psychophysics (quantifying the limits of our vision) and computational modelling (linking brains/eyes to human vision). This work in turn informs clinical research. Examples include:
• Neural plasticity –the brain’s remarkable ability to adapt to change – has triggered a paediatric research program on amblyopia (“lazy eye”), a problem affecting 3% of New Zealand children. This has culminated in the development of a treatment involving video-game play that is proving to be an effective and popular alternative to eye-patching.
• The Myopia laboratory is investigating the design, use, and effectiveness of special contact lenses to slow the progression of short-sightedness. • Investigations into mechanisms of retinal degeneration in diseases associated with ageing by members of the Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology lab are providing insights into age related macular degeneration (affects 1 in 7 people over 60+) including the mechanisms of visual function loss in Alzheimer’s disease.
• The Molecular Vision Laboratory is involved in investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying age related eye diseases such as lens cataract. A better understanding of lens physiology and the pathways that contribute to the development of cataract is required for the design of strategies that will be effective in delaying the onset of cataract. This research is supported by optical and computational modelling work derived from quantitative ocular imaging of clinic patients.
• Clinical research includes the evaluation of factors affecting visual development in infants and children, comparisons of novel and established methods of measuring refractive error, and the development of techniques to assist people understand better what vision is like when correcting lenses are not worn.