Recognising achievements in optometric research

The College’s Research Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate the considerable achievements of our members involved in optometric research, and how they enrich the profession. These inspirational individuals are making a significant contribution to the evidence base that underpins good practice now and in the future. 

You could make a real difference to someone’s work and career, and to the advancement of optometry, by nominating a talented researcher for a College Research Excellence Award. 

There are eight awards – each dedicated to a different facet of research:

The President's Research Medal 

Awarded for outstanding contribution to research.

This medal is our most prestigious award and recognises a lifetime's career in optometric/vision science research.  Introduced in 2014, it is awarded every four years.

  • What are the judges looking for? A career’s worth of outstanding research in the fields of optometry, optics or vision science.
  • Who is eligible for nomination? Experienced researchers from all over the world.

Professor Bernard Gilmartin FCOptom

For a career-long contribution to the understanding of the aetiology, progression, and management of myopia, together with his pioneering work to establish optometry as an evidence-based profession.

Professor Sir Colin Blakemore

Professor of Neuroscience and Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford – for his pioneering work in stereoscopic vision, and neuronal plasticity. These are fundamental to our understanding of how vision works with our brain to create our visual experience, particularly in older patients with more complex needs, including neurodegenerative diseases.

A video of Professor Blakemore’s Research Excellence Lecture, entitled 'A visual experience' is available in our member learning area.

Professor Larry Thibos

Emeritus Professor of Optometry at Indiana University, for his lifetime contribution to our understanding of the effects of optical aberrations of the eye on visual performance, as well as the limits to spatial vision imposed by the retinal architecture and the characterisation of vision in the peripheral field.

The Arthur Bennett Prize 

Awarded every two years for outstanding research undertaken anywhere in the world.

  • What are the judges looking for? Examples of important or outstanding research in optometry, optics, eye health or vision science
  • Who is eligible for nomination? Mid-career researchers from all over the world whose work has been published within the last three years.

Professor Shahina Pardhan MCOptom

For research of international importance into the global visual impact of diabetic retinopathy on eye health and vision, and how vision loss affects navigation through environments.

Listen to our podcast episode with Professor Pardhan on women in optometry - the first female Professor of Optometry in the UK.

Professor John Lawrenson FCOptom

For his leadership in producing Cochrane Reviews, which organise medical research findings to facilitate evidence-based choices about health interventions.

Dr Alicja Rudnicka

For using a multi-disciplinary and statistical approach to epidemiology and retinal vasculature, focussing on childhood myopia and global variations in primary open angle glaucoma prevalence.

Professor Joanne Wood

For her work on vision, ageing and driving, including vision testing for licensing and assessing fitness to drive.

Professor Jeremy Guggenheim

For his research into the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in myopia development.

The Neil Charman Medal 

For Research for excellent research at a level above postgraduate, undertaken by a College member.

  • What are the judges looking for? Evidence of outstanding or original research published within the last three years, in optometry, optics or vision science.
  • Who is eligible for nomination? College members who have completed their post-graduate qualification can apply or be nominated.

Dr Sara McCullough MCOptom

For research into distinct classes of refractive development leading to the identification of predictive factors for myopia.

Dr Michael Crossland MCOptom

For patient-centred research into low vision, telerehabilitation and the accessibility of care.

Dr Rebekka Heitmar

For her cross-disciplinary approach, in both method and dissemination, to ocular haemodynamics and for ensuring that optometric knowledge is shared beyond the profession and able to benefit other fields of research and practice.

Dr Ruth Hogg MCOptom

For her work in the area of macular degeneration and heart disease.

Dr Nicola Logan

Whose research suggests that certain measurements of retinal surface area are consistent with a likelihood of breaks in the retina that are associated with posterior vitreous detachment.

Dr Keziah Latham FCOptom Prof Cert LV

For her work in the area of low vision, its assessment and its effects. In particular, the impact on driving and on emotional health, the latter an important factor to be considered for those experiencing a deterioration of their sight.

The Philip Cole Prize

For practice-based research.

This prize recognises the important contribution of practice-based research  to the evidence base for optometry. It is awarded annually to College members who have undertaken notable research in their practice. 

  • What are the judges looking for? Evidence of excellence in practice-based research
  • Who is eligible for nomination? College members working in any environment.

2022: Dr Rosalind Creer MCOptom

For cross-hospital collaboration in investigating optometrists’ extended scope of practice in neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

2021: Patrick Gunn MCOptom

For research into new community schemes for eye health, and increasing the accessibility of eye care services in the UK.

2020: Dr Shelley Black MCOptom Prof Cert Glauc and Dr Emma McConnell MCOptom Pro Cert LV

For their work centred around The Special Education Eyecare (SEE) project (funded by Action Medical Research), which explored an alternative, in-school model of eye care for children in special education settings.

2019: Dr Lesley Doyle MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret Prof Cert Glauc

For her work on practitioner attitudes to using cycloplegia to assess childhood refractive error and prescribing spectacles for children.

2018: Dr Jasleen Jolly MCOptom

For her research on how biomarkers help to identify inherited and genetic retinal diseases.

2017: Steven Whittaker MCOptom DipTp(IP)

For his evaluation of independent prescribing optometry in Scotland.

The Giles Van Colle Memorial Award

In conjunction with the Giles Van Colle Memorial Foundation - for outstanding research or clinical case work relating to paediatric optometry.

This is awarded every two years, and is open for nominations this year (2021). 

  • What are the judges looking for? Examples of outstanding original research or case studies relating to the investigation or treatment of visual problems in children.
  • Who is eligible for nomination? Any College member is eligible for nomination.

Professor Nicola Logan MCOptom

For work on the clinical trials which are crucial for the development of interventions for myopia.

Lisa Donaldson MCOptom

For her work investigating the provision of eye care in children aged between four and six attending special schools, which identified possible barriers to accessing eye care for this age group.

Dr Valldeflors Viñuela Navarro MCOptom

For her project, which found that there is an association between specific learning difficulties and eye movement disorders, but challenged the view that eye movement disorders can be found in isolation in children with delayed reading/academic performance. She also proposed simple actionable guidelines to improve the examination of eye movements in clinical practice.

Lynne Speedwell MSc FCOptom DCLP

For her contribution to practice in the prescribing of contact lenses to help treat pathological conditions in children.

Dr Dorothy Thompson MCOptom

For her studies on how the retina in children with a rare metabolic condition, and the ensuing progressive pigmentary retinopathy, demonstrate a similarity in pathology with stationary night blindness, which have helped to develop a way of investigating for the presence of metabolic illness, and the threat to sight that can ensue.

Rasmeet Chadha MCOptom

For her investigation into the effect of visual impairment on the quality of life of children aged 3-16 years old, which found that those with visual impairment scored lower in quality of life tests than children who were not visually impaired.

George Giles Postgraduate Research Prize 

For outstanding postgraduate research by College members.

This is awarded for exceptional research projects carried out by students completing a PhD or Masters in the UK.

  • What are the judges looking for? Examples of outstanding or original work, and the publication of the results, at PhD or Masters level in optometry, optics or vision science.
  • Who is eligible for nomination? College members who have had the nominated research published within the last three years.

Dr Victoria Stapley MCOptom

For research uncovering changes in ocular structure and function in myopia, as well as novel methods to evaluate their relationship.

Dr Neema Ghorbani Mojarrad MCOptom

For research into the genetics of myopia and the practical application of such insights for profiling and the targeting of interventions to manage myopia.

Dr Laura Edwards MCOptom DipTp(IP) Prof Cert Glauc

Who held ‘pop-up’ health clinics in shopping centres across the UK, to investigate how offering blood pressure tests might encourage engagement with the eye health assessment.

Dr Nilpa Shah MCOptom

Whose research into improving the measurement of visual function in clinical settings gave rise to the development of the Moorfields Acuity Chart - now commercially available.

Dr Deanna Taylor MCOptom

Whose research looked at the impact of AMD on real-world activities of daily living, and should help to ensure that much-needed treatments in the process of development are evaluated against the most useful outcomes for patients, rather than only arbitrary or theoretical measures of improvement.

Dr Andrew Logan MCOptom DIpTP (IP)

Who developed a new computerised test of face perception ability intended for use in clinical environments.

The Bernard Gilmartin OPO Award 

For a highly regarded paper published Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics (OPO).

Each year, a highly regarded paper from those published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics in the preceding five years is selected for recognition by the OPO Editorial Board. This is not open for nominations.

Thomas Heesterbeek, Laura Lorés- Motta, Professor Carel B Hoyng, Yara T E Lechateur, and Professor Anneke I den Hollander

For their paper, Risk factors for progression of age-related macular degeneration, published in 2020. Read the paper.

Dr Ranjay Chakraborty and colleagues, Dr Lisa A Ostrin, Dr Debora L Nickla, Dr P Michael Iuvone, Dr Machelle T Pardue and Dr Richard A Stone

For their paper, Circadian rhythms, refractive development and myopia, published in 2018. Read the paper.

Sharon Y. L. Chua, Charumathi Sabanayagam, Yin‐Bun Cheung, Audrey Chia, Robert K. Valenzuela, Donald Tan, Tien‐Yin Wong, Ching‐Yu Cheng, Seang‐Mei Saw

For their investigation into the effect of age of myopia onset on the severity of myopia later in life, which found that this was the most important predictor of high myopia in later childhood in myopic children. Read the paper

Dr Pavan Kumar Verkicharla, Professor Kyoko Ohno-Matsui and Professor Seang Mei Saw

For their review paper, which suggested that current prevalence rates of pathologic myopia in older adults might have significantly underestimated the future prevalence rates. Read the paper

Professor Robert Hess, Professor Benjamin Thompson and Professor Daniel Baker

Whose review provided an overview of studies that investigated the structure, measurement and treatment of binocular vision in observers with strabismic, anisometropic and mixed amblyopia. Read the paper

Professor Ian Morgan and Professor Kathryn Rose

For their paper analysing the relationship between myopia, educational performance and engagement in after-school tutorial classes, which showed it is possible to achieve high educational outcomes without extensive engagement in after-school tutorials, and that the combination of high educational outcomes with extensive use of tutorials is associated with high prevalence rates of myopia. Read the paper

The Naylor Prize 

For excellence in undergraduate projects from across all of the UK optometry departments. 

The Naylor Prize was established in 1986 in recognition of Jon Naylor, a pioneering academic optometrist at the University of Manchester. The prize recognises the final-year project work of optometry undergraduates across three categories: literature reviews, clinical reviews of specific areas of practice and experimental projects. 

Nominees are selected by university supervisors and judged by independent panels of UK academics. The Prize is awarded a year in arrears.

Literature review category

Andrea Hanks, City, University of London, for her review of the evidence for the effectiveness of atropine in reducing myopia progression in children.

Clinical review category

Ewan Ramsay of City, University of London, for his work focusing on two of the many proposed theories for the survival of central vision after ischaemic stroke caused by infarction of the posterior cerebral artery.

Experimental projects category

Helen Croxall, Anglia Ruskin University for her investigation of whether fixational eye movements contribute to visual crowding and contour interaction in adults with normal vision.