Optometry and Vision Sciences Research Group

We conduct world leading, translational (including professional and teaching evidence-based public clinics), multidisciplinary research into vision and perception, visual development and myopia, the crystalline lens and ocular surface, and vascular imaging of the eye.

 

Optometry and Vision Sciences Research Group focuses on four key themes of research: visual development and myopia, the crystalline lens and ocular surface, vision and perception, and vascular imaging. In addition, our research within the area of ophthalmic technology and devices has been identified as a Centre of Excellence. 

We also feed into the College of Health and Life Sciences wide themes of vision, cognition, and language, and health and disease across the lifespan, and work closely with colleagues within the Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing and Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment.  

Our work has significantly contributed to the global understanding of the development, use, preservation, and restoration of ocular function. We have been ranked as the world’s leading institution for expertise in presbyopia research (the ageing eye), and 4th in the world for expertise in contact lenses by Expertscape. We are also a leading centre for myopia research.  

Collaborators

Our researchers collaborate with scientists in universities across the globe and we have strong links with institutions across the UK, EU, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. 

We also work closely with NHS Trusts such as the Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals Trust, organisations within the wider optometry and ophthalmic industry, charitable foundations, professional bodies such as the College of Optometrists, and membership organisations like the British and Irish University and College Contact Lens Educators (BUCCLE). 

Funders

Funding for our research comes from a variety of streams. Funders include The College of Optometrists UK, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Innovate UK, and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). We also receive a large proportion of our funding from industry, organisations include Alcon, Allergan,  Contamac, Coopervision, Essilor International, Eyoto, Johnson and Johnson, Medmont,  Novartis, NuVision, Rayner, and Topcon. 

People and publications

Our researchers are internationally recognised in their fields, with roles as journal editors, chairs of funding panels, commercial consultancy, and membership of national and international advisory panels. 

Professor Nicola Logan

Director of Research: Professor Nicola Logan 

Nicola is a Professor of Optometry and Deputy Head of School (Research) for the School of Optometry. Her current research interests include the development, progression and management of myopia. Her work spans from basic laboratory experimentation and translation through to clinical trials that involve different strategies to slow myopia progression in children. Nicola runs both an internationally recognised active myopia research lab and a clinical service in myopia management. 

Facilities and clinics

We make use of a wide range of specialised equipment within our research laboratories, clinical research facility, and Aston Eye Clinic, all located within the dedicated Aston Vision Sciences building. Our labs and clinical spaces are well-equipped with advanced non-invasive technologies that make our studies appropriate for all age groups while being at the forefront of research in the field. We also utilise facilities within the on campus Optegra Birmingham Eye Hospital, Aston Laboratory for Immersive Virtual Environments (ALIVE), and Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment. 

Equipment within the group includes: 

  • Zeiss IOL Master 500/700 
  • Haag Streit LenStar LS 900 
  • Autorefractors (Shin Nippon NVisionK, WAM-5500 Grand Seiko) 
  • Zeiss Visante AS-OCT 
  • Heidelberg Spectralis OCT 
  • Heidelberg HRTIII and Rostock confocal module 
  • Dry Eye Diagnostics: Oculus Keratograph 5m (x3), Medmont Meridia and Topographers; ME-Check, Tearlab (x2), iPen, Delfin evapometer 
  • Dry Eye Management: Blephex, Eye-Light Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy and light modulation mask,   
  • mfERG 
  • MR scanner 

In addition, our researchers run multiple specialist public facing clinics alongside staff and students within the Aston Eye Clinic. Clinics include: 

  • Myopia management  
  • Paediatric  
  • Low vision  
  • Dry eye

Research themes

Crystalline lens and ocular surface

Research conducted within this theme is well established, Expertscape has ranked us the world’s leading institution for expertise in presbyopia research (the ageing eye), and 4th in the world for expertise in contact lenses. Our researchers are experts in the technological evaluation of medical devices such as contact lenses and intraocular lenses, treatments such as the management of dry eye and refractive surgery, eye focus and drug delivery to the anterior eye.  

Current areas of expertise and specialities within the group include dry eye, contact lenses, refractive surgery, drug delivery to the anterior eye, intraocular lenses, and eye focus, presbyopia and its management. Our research within this theme has been identified as a Centre of Excellence for the College of Health and Life Sciences, leading to the creation of the Ophthalmic Technology and Devices Research Centre, which is the lead centre for the Midlands Ophthalmic Technology Hub.

Visual development and myopia

Our studies range from investigations of visual development including myopia, accommodation and visual acuity in typical and atypical populations, to clinical trials evaluating interventions for managing myopia onset and progression.  

It is our aim to further understand the development of vision across the age span and mechanisms underlying development and progression of myopia. In addition, we study the effectiveness and safety of current and novel interventions for the management of a number of ocular conditions including myopia, amblyopia, and accommodation deficits. The ultimate aim of this research is to use our translational research to inform clinical practice. 

We make use of the numerous laboratories and clinical spaces within the research group, utilising the range of advanced non-invasive technologies that make our studies appropriate for all age groups, while being at the forefront of research in these fields. 

Current areas of expertise and specialities within the group include: 

  • Prevalence of refractive errors and accommodation deficits in children and adults. 
  • Mechanisms and Efficacy of current and novel interventions for controlling myopia progression. 
  • Visual development and visual deficits in populations with special needs, particularly in Down’s syndrome. 
Vision and perception

Our work within this theme investigates the fundamental mechanisms that underpin our ability to 'see' the world around us, using a combination of neuroimaging, neurostimulation, behavioural, clinical, and psychophysical techniques. Researchers work closely with, and make use of facilities within the Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment, in particular the Aston Laboratory for Immersive Virtual Environments (ALIVE)

Current areas of interest include:  

  • Perceptual confidence 
  • Spatial vision 
  • Motion perception 
  • Functional organisation of the brain 
  • Depth perception 
  • Perception of polarised light.
Vascular imaging

We utilise the specialist facilities within the Aston Laboratory for Vascular Imaging to conduct unique interdisciplinary research, dedicated to investigating the role of both systemic and ocular circulation in the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, and ocular conditions (such as diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, myopia, age related macular degeneration and others).  Members within this theme are reputed interdisciplinary researchers and research aims include: 

  • Investigating early signs of vascular disorders and identifying new ocular and systemic biomarkers of vascular disease.
  • Enhancing current risk calculators by integrating newly identified and validated biomarkers by implementing artificial intelligence, machine learning and mathematical modelling. 
  • Personalised risk profiling using retinal and systemic vascular signature. 
  • Development and validation of protocols to assess the retinal vasculature and function. 
  • Randomised controlled trials and longitudinal observation studies to validate new retinal vascular biomarkers. 
  • Evaluation of the impact of retinal and systemic biomarkers of vascular health on visual function and progression of ocular conditions affecting visual function. 
  • To investigate age and pathology related changes of ocular vascular structure and function. 

Research within this theme is conducted by members of the Optometry and Vision Sciences Research Group, alongside members of the Systems Analytics Research Institute (SARI), Aston Lab for Intelligent Collectives Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Aston Research Centre for Healthy Aging (ARCHA).