Research Committee

The Research Committee is a key support in the College’s work to build the evidence base for optometry and in developing and implementing our research strategy.

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Committee members are responsible to the Board of Trustees for monitoring the implementation of the College’s Research Strategy, determining the research priorities for the profession and making recommendations for research projects for funding by the College. 


Professor Edward Mallen BSc PhD MCOptom
Immediate Past President, Council Member - Yorkshire and Humber

Ed graduated in optometry from Aston University in 1998, and completed a PhD at the same institution in 2003. He is now Head of the School of Optometry and Vision Science, and Professor of Physiological Optics at the University of Bradford. He also holds the position of Honorary Professor with the School of Health Professions, Plymouth University, and Visiting Professor at Aston University. Ed was appointed College President in March 2018.

Ed is the Ex Officio of the Education and Standards and Research Committees and the Lay Advisory Panel.


Professor Peter Allen BSc(Hons) PhD FCOptom
Council member - Eastern

Peter graduated from City University in 1990.  He then completed a PhD and Post Graduate Certificate Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at Anglia Ruskin University, where he is now the Director of Clinics and Professor of Optometry and Visual Sciences. His current research interests include refractive error development, vision and reading, vision in sports and visual function in specialist populations. Peter is an assessor and examiner for the College.



Dr Catey Bunce
Research Committee Co-optee

Dr Catey Bunce is a Consultant in Applied Medical Statistics with expertise in ophthalmology amassed from over 25 years working in research in Eyes and Vision. She has an honorary Associate Professorship at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and is co-lead for the NIHR Statistics Group.

Catey established the Ophthalmic Statistics Group which has written a series of statistics notes for the British Journal of Ophthalmology. She sits on the Certificate for Vision Impairment Committee (CVIC) which oversees data collected in England and Wales during the certification process for visual impairment. She is also an Ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society championing the message that “better data = better research = better healthcare”.

Lorcan Butler MCOptom
Council Member - Northern Ireland

Lorcan qualified from Glasgow Caledonian University after completing the Dispensing Optician & Optometry Courses. He has worked in numerous multiple and independent practices in Scotland, Ireland and New Zealand. He has been working with Vision Express in Northern Ireland for the past 12 years.

He enjoys passing his experience on to newly qualified registrants and has supervised ten pre-reg trainees and one dispensing optometry student. Lorcan is involved with internal training programmes that Vision Express provide for pre-reg student nationwide in the form of tutorials and workshops.

Lorcan has a huge interest in children's visual development and has obtained the College of Optometrists' Professional Certificate in Paediatric Eye Care. He has completed myopia control training by worldwide renowned academic institution Brien Holden Vision Academy in Australia.

Lorcan is currently working on getting his accreditation as a Dry Eye Practitioner with BCLA and implementing TFOS/DEWS II recommendations into daily practice. When not looking at eyes, he loves nothing better than supporting Ireland Rugby Team and their achievements.


Emeritus Professor David Caplin
Lay Advisory Panel Member

David is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Imperial College London, where he has spent most of his scientific career. He maintains an international research activity in electronic materials, particularly magnetic and superconducting compounds; in the past, he has had some interests in the optical properties of materials. He has extensive experience of appraisal and review of research programmes, both nationally and internationally, and  has published about 300 research papers. 

Since retiring, David has been a Lay Member of the Bar Standards Board Conduct Committee, and was one of two Lay Vice-Chairs (2006-2008); he is currently the Vice-Chair on two National Patient Safety Agency Research Ethics Committees, and is a Lay Partner with the Health Professions Council.

Tony Cowburn BSc
Lay Advisory Panel Member

Tony is a physics graduate from the University of Southampton and has worked his entire career in scientific research and development (R&D).  He started his career as semiconductor process engineer with Phillips and then became an R&D manager at the IBM UK Development Laboratories, developing magnetic disc drives. He was involved in a management buy out  at IBM and became Technical Director for ADFlex, before completing his career as Technical Director for City Technology (electrochemical & optical gas sensors).

Tony is now semi-retired and works occasionally as a consultant. He has had a deep interest in all eye care matters since experiencing a serious eyesight problem as a teenager.

Dr Irene Ctori MCOptom
Council Member - London

Irene graduated from City University in 1994. She worked in high street community practice until 2007, mostly in Vision Express, Ilford and then the Oxford Street store. Irene then went on to hold a role as a specialist optometrist at Whipps Cross University Hospital until 2012. This included leading a fast-track age-related macular degeneration clinic; undertaking complex adult and paediatric eye examinations and conducting low vision and diabetic eye assessments.

Irene completed the MSc in Clinical Optometry in 2012 and went on to do her PhD 2012 to 2016. Since then, Irene has been a full-time lecturer at City, University of London. Her main areas of interest and research include the use of OCT in clinical practice, quality of life in low vision and also paediatric optometry. Irene is committed to the future of optometry in the UK and is passionate about promoting optometrists as healthcare professionals.



Professor Chris Hammond BA Hons MA BM Bch MRCP (UK) FRCOphth MD
Research Committee Co-optee

Chris has been the Frost Professor of Ophthalmology at King’s College London and consultant at Guy's and St Thomas' since 2011. After Cambridge and Oxford Universities, he was a registrar at the Western Eye Hospital, a senior registrar at St Thomas’ and completed his paediatric ophthalmology and strabismus Fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital. He was appointed as consultant at Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust in 2000, and was awarded the prestigious NIHR Senior Research Fellowship in 2008 in recognition of his groundbreaking research.

Chris has previously been both training programme director and regional adviser for the London Deanery/RCOphth, and is the ophthalmology lead for the London (South) Comprehensive Local Research Network. In addition, he has a longstanding association with City University, previously as a Visiting Professor and currently external examiner to its Optometry MSc programme. His specialist interests include adult strabismus, children’s complex strabismus and refractive error (high myopia).

Professor Hammond is one of the leading international researchers into the genetic epidemiology of common eye diseases including glaucoma, cataract, myopia, dry eye disease and age-related macular degeneration. He has been published widely.

Chris has been awarded the NIHR Senior Research Fellowship, the International Glaucoma Association Fellowship, the Elizabeth Paice London Deanery Award for best teaching institution (St Thomas’ Eye Dept),. as well as grants from the Wellcome Foundation and the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers.

Robert Harper BSc (Hons), MPhil, DPhil, DipGlauc, DipTP(IP), FCOptom
Council Member - North West

Robert Harper is an Optometrist Consultant at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, an Honorary Professor of Optometry in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester and a Visiting Professor in Optometry at City, University of London.  His role encompasses clinical practice within the HES, research, undergraduate and post-graduate teaching, and training and continuing education for post-graduate optometrists. He is also actively engaged in examining and wider professional matters.  Areas of clinical and research interest include glaucoma, diagnostic test evaluation, low vision rehabilitation, and enhanced schemes within optometry.  He has presented nationally and internationally for over 3 decades and been lead applicant or co-applicant on grants amounting to over £3 million.  Robert has authored a glaucoma handbook and over 100 papers, including over 70 papers in the peer reviewed literature.  He has fostered links between the HES and community optometry for many years and in 2015 was awarded Life Fellowship by the College for his contribution to the profession.  He is currently an expert panel member for NICE, an external examiner at Cardiff, and an optometry member of the RCOphth external reviewer team.



Professor Jennifer Read
Research Committee Co-optee

Jenny Read is Professor of Vision Science at Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience. She has a first class degree in physics (1994), a doctorate in theoretical physics (1997) and a Masters in neuroscience (1999), all from Oxford University, UK. From 1997-2001 she was a Wellcome Training Fellow in Mathematical Biology at Oxford University, then from 2001-2005 a postdoctoral fellow at the US National Eye Institute. She returned to the UK in 2005 with a University Research Fellowship from the Royal Society, Britain’s national science academy. Her lab works on many aspects of visual perception, especially stereoscopic or “3D” vision. Current projects include modelling how visual cortex encodes binocular information, developing a new stereo vision test for children, and uncovering how insects see in stereoscopic 3D. More information and all publications are available at


Dr David Grant Robinson PhD BSc (Hons) MCOptom FHEA Prof Cert Glauc Prof Cert LV Prof Cert Med Ret
Council Member - Wales

Grant is a teacher at the Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) based at Cardiff University. He qualified from Cardiff University in 2008 and remained in Wales to complete his pre-registration year. Since passing his professional qualifying exam in 2009 he has worked as an optometrist across a range of practices in North West England and South Wales. In 2018 he was awarded a PhD at Cardiff University for his research into the pathogenesis and treatment of age-related macular degeneration. In addition to his work for WOPEC Grant continues to practice as a locum optometrist and is an assessor for the Wales Eye Care Service. He was elected College Council member in March 2020.


Matt Roney Bsc MCOptom
Council Member – North West

Matt graduated from the University of Bradford in 2016, and went on to complete his pre registration year at Moorfields Eye Hospital. Soon after qualifying, Matt undertook a post at The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital. He is currently a Senior Optometrist at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Although Matt’s role is predominately within the hospital, he locums regularly in private practice.

Matt was elected College Council Member for the North West region in March 2019.


Hassnain Safdar MCOptom
Council Member - East Midlands

Hassnain graduated from Aston University in 2016 and completed his pre-reg with Specsavers in 2017. Currently, he practices as a locum optometrist in a variety of multiple and independent practices. He was the inaugural LOCSU Student ambassador in 2016 and remains an active committee member of the Leicestershire and Rutland LOC since 2019. In addition, he is a junior faculty member for the Johnson and Johnson institute STEP programme where he mentors other pre-reg students as and sits on the newly-qualified reference panel for the College. Hassnain is passionate on building a strong relationship between primary and secondary care and strives to promote the role Optometrists can play in an increasingly stretched NHS.


Professor Kathryn Saunders BSc FCOptom
Council Member- Northern Ireland

Kathryn Saunders is a Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at Ulster University in Northern Ireland. Her research interests include the development of refractive error in infancy and childhood in typically developing children and in the presence of developmental disability. She has led the Northern Ireland Childhood Errors of Refraction (NICER) study, a large longitudinal epidemiological study of refractive error, for the past 12 years. The NICER study has provided new insight into the prevalence, onset and progression of myopia in modern school age children living in the UK. Kathryn has published over 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers and is actively involved in undergraduate and postgraduate optometry teaching, including leading the College-accredited Professional Certificate in Paediatric Eyecare at Ulster University. In addition to academic and research work, Kathryn remains a practising optometrist with a strong interest in translational research which improves vision care and visual outcomes for people with and without special needs.

Dr Laura E Sweeney MCOptom DipTp(IP)
Council Member - Scotland

Laura is originally from Glasgow and continues to work and live in the Southside of the city. She graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in 2008 and completed her pre-registration year at McCabe Opticians in Barrhead. In 2010 she began her PhD studies. Prior to, and throughout her PhD studies, Laura worked part time as a specialist optometrist in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde working in the glaucoma, cataract and paediatric clinics. Alongside her PhD studies she also completed the Independent Prescribing qualification in 2014.

In 2014 Laura took up a post with Dundee University as postgraduate optometry tutor and she was involved in the creation of evidence based online CET materials for optometrists and helped develop the Scotland wide Peer Assisted Learning Network. In 2015 she took up a post as lecturer at GCU where she is involved in the teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate optometrists. Alongside her teaching commitments, Laura’s current research interests include binocular vision, accommodation, eye movements and Alzheimer’s disease. Alongside her lecturing post Laura works as a self-employed locum optometrist, working regularly in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire and she is part of the Lanarkshire Eye Network Scheme. Laura was elected College Council Member in March 2017.


OSC representative

Professor John Wild PhD, DSc.
Cardiff School of Optometry and Vision Sciences

Professor John Wild is Professor of Clinical Vision Science, and Head of School, at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University. He is the Optometry Schools Council representative on the Research Committee.

John’s research career has involved the development of visual field techniques and analyses for the investigation of glaucoma and, more latterly, for the investigation of the field loss associated with the anti-epileptic drug vigabatrin. He holds a PhD from Aston University and, for the totality of his research, a DSc from City, University of London. He has co-authored close to 100 papers in the ophthalmological and neurological journals, given invited presentations in approximately 30 countries including those at the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Neurology. He is a Past President of the International Perimetric Society, the only UK national and the only optometrist to hold such an honour. 


Colin Davidson BSc (Hons) FCOptom DipTp(IP)
President, Council Member - South East

Colin currently works part-time for the University of Hertfordshire where he is programme lead for independent prescribing. He also works in independent practice in East Sussex, and at Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton where he works in both A&E and uveitis clinics. He is a senior assessor for the College and an OSCE chief examiner. He is a former member of East Sussex LOC and a current member of the education faculty at the Johnson and Johnson Institute.

Colin was awarded a Diploma in Independent Prescribing Dip TP(IP) in 2011, and Fellowship of the College in 2013.