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School of Optometry and Vision Science


Current projects

Understanding the effect of Alzheimer’s disease on vision and developing new diagnosis protocols through eye testing


Numerous vision problems have been described in different stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Objective measurement of visual dysfunction may help clinicians predict the level of risk an individual with forthcoming dementia has for progression into AD. This project will develop protocols for testing vision to investigate the visual function of Alzheimer’s patients and age matched participants.

  • Co-investigator: Dr Joanna Black
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Expression of molecular markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the eye


We are studying the ocular changes that occur in an animal endemic to South America, the rodent Octodon degus, in which we have found a study model for the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Vision problems reported in Alzheimer’s disease patients years before the clinical signs of the condition will be investigated at a cellular level in the animal model.

This study will determine the ocular pathological signs attributable to Alzheimer's disease (which are differentiated from the ageing process) that could be used in identifying an ocular test for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Lily Chang- PhD candidate
  • Co-investigator: Prof Adrian Palacios
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Integrated use of technology in vision research


This project specifically seeks to enhance the clinical impact of basic research discoveries by tracking progress of intervention strategies using high performance equipment similar to that used in human clinical testing. We use various animal models of ocular diseases and assess retinal integrity, the choroid, retinal pigmented epithelium using high temporal and spatial resolution imaging techniques. The evaluation includes the use of angiograms to determine the effect of therapies on retinal and choroidal blood permeability in selected areas and assessment of anterior segment for changes in corneal and lens structure.

  • Co-investigators: members of the NZ-NEC
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Enhancing the impact of animal models in the study of age related macular degeneration


The project consists on testing  new drugs using the light-induced rat model of retinal degeneration displaying many of the characteristics of eyes afflicted with age related macular degeneration.  Our extensive analysis of the animal model has uncovered possible interventions feasible for human translation. The study consists on the evaluation of the efficacy of the drug in reducing the progress of inflammation. The study has as co-investigators other Department of Optometry staff and members of the NZ-NEC.

  • Nasir Nor - PhD candidate

  • Co investigators - Dr Ilva Rupenthal, Professor Colin Green

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