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Image: Soheil being presented with the award by Will Charles from UniServices.

Velocity is New Zealand’s principal entrepreneurial development programme, launched in 2003 and hosted within the School of Business.  Each year Velocity and UniServices come together to award prizes for entrepreneurial ideas which provide a benefit to society, have potential to be commercialised, and are based on research work undertaken by a University of Auckland staff member or PhD student.

This May, Professor Steven Dakin and PhD student Soheil Mohammadpour Doustkouhi won a $1,000 prize in the Innovation Challenge 2019 with their entry “Vision Psyence”.

As Soheil relates, “Vision Psyence” is an idea which focuses on preventing the onset of glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world affecting 80 million people”.  He goes on to say, “Glaucoma starts stealthily in the periphery and if not detected and treated at early stages will lead to complete vision loss. We have developed an automatic and easily accessible screening system to counteract vision loss caused by glaucoma”. The screening system – which Steven and Soheil presented at ARVO 2019 – is based on measuring reflexive movements of patients’ eyes when they look at moving patterns. The advantage of such an approach (compared to measures such as visual field tests) is that the patient does not have to do anything apart from look at a screen. This has the potential to help us develop tests that are faster, less stressful to the patient, and more sensitive to the early stages of this serious eye disease.