Welcome to the July issue of our newsletter for 2019.In June we bid farewell to professional teaching fellow Zoe Smith. We thank Zoe for her tremendous enthusiasm and hard work in the four years she has been with us, and wish her the very best for her return to the UK. Remaining teaching staff will be relieved to know we have made offers with a view to recruiting two full-time professional teaching fellows over the coming months.
This week I returned from Europe where (amongst other things) I attended a meeting in Murten (Switzerland). Here, researchers from around the world had gathered to discuss crowding – the breakdown in peripheral vision that limits what we can see “from the corner of our eye”. Some fascinating presentations highlighted the relevance of crowding to everyday life, be it deciding if a pedestrian is about to walk in front of your car (or indeed, a self-driving car) or determining what someone can see when forced to use peripheral vision as a result of central vision loss to age related macular degeneration.
Innovations in such basic vision science can fuel clinical projects, as is the case with some recent work from my lab. Soheil Mohammadpour’s exploration of how peripheral vision contributes to reflexive eye movements has led to an interesting project on glaucoma in collaboration with Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer and Dr Phil Turnbull. We have shown that loss of peripheral vision to glaucoma leads to a predictable loss in eye movements. Our proposal that such a loss of eye movements could be diagnostic for glaucoma was the basis of an application to the Health Research Council (HRC) and this month we were delighted to learn that our project has been funded to the tune of $1.3M. I am excited to now have the resources to determine if our approach could form the basis of a faster, more patient-friendly way of diagnosing glaucoma earlier, to better improve treatment-outcomes for this all-too-common eye disease.