Research Excellence Awards

Our prestigious awards recognise achievement and celebrate outstanding contributions to research in the fields of optometry, optics and vision science.

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Research Excellence Awards - previous winners

The President's Research Medal

This Award is for outstanding contribution to research and recognises a lifetime's career in optometric/vision science research.  The Medal is awarded every four years.

2018: Professor Sir Colin Blakemore

Professor Blakemore won the second President's Research Medal for his pioneering work into vision, in particular stereoscopic vision, and neuronal plasticity, which are fundamental to our understanding of how vision works with our brain to create our visual experience. These concepts are now more important than ever in working with older patients with more complex needs, including neurodegenerative diseases.

Professor Blakemore is currently 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. He has been President of the British Science Association, the British Neuroscience Association, the Physiological Society and the Society of Biology. He is also passionately committed to engagement between science and the public, and to the importance of science in government. He was knighted in 2014 for “services to scientific research, policy and outreach”.

Although Professor Blakemore did not train as an optometrist, he undertook his PhD within the optometry department at the University of California, Berkeley, he has made a huge contribution to our understanding of vision and has been a great friend to our profession.

Professor Blakemore gave the second Research Excellence Lecture, entitled 'A visual experience' at the Wellcome Collection in London on 25 January 2018. Watch a video of the lecture (1 CET point).

2014: Professor Larry Thibos

Professor Thibos won the inaugural President's Research Medal 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.

Professor Thibos is Emeritus Professor of Optometry at Indiana University. As an established leader of research into the fields of visual optics and visual performance, his work includes the investigation of the structure of the retina and vision quality. This research continues to provide a better understanding of vision loss and is a basis for developments of new methods of clinical practice.

Watch a video of Professor Thibos' lecture:



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The Arthur Bennett Prize

For outstanding research undertaken anywhere in the world, this Prize is awarded every two years.

2019: Professor John Lawrenson
Awarded for leadership in producing Cochrane Reviews that have enhanced the evidence base for optometry

Professor John Lawrenson is Professor of Clinical Visual Science at City, Univesity of London. He was awarded the Arthur Bennett Prize at Optometry Tomorrow 2019, held in Birmingham on 24-25th February 2019. He gave a lecture as part of the Prize.

Professor Lawrenson is an Editor for the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group, has authored several Cochrane Systematic Reviews, and has a long-standing interest in promoting evidence-based practice. Professor Lawrenson was awarded the Prize for his commitment and leadership in producing these gold standard reviews that are crucial to ensuring optometric practice is based on evidence.

Some of Professor Lawrenson's work is availabe below.

Lawrenson  JG, Graham‐Rowe  E, Lorencatto  F, Burr  J, Bunce  C, Francis  JJ, Aluko  P, Rice  S, Vale  L, Peto  T, Presseau  J, Ivers  N, Grimshaw  JM. Interventions to increase attendance for diabetic retinopathy screening. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD012054. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012054.pub2.

Lawrenson JG, Hull CC & Downie LE. The effect of blue-light blocking spectacle lenses on visual performance, macular health and the sleep-wake cycle: a systematic review of the literature. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2017; 37: 644–654.

2017: Dr Alicja Rudnicka
Awarded for using a multi-disciplinary and statistical approach to epidemiology and retinal vasculature

Dr Alicja Rudnicka is a Reader in Medical Statistics in the Population Health Research Institute of St George's, University of London. She was awarded the Arthur Bennett Prize at Optometry Tomorrow 2017, and gave a lecture about her work in conjunction with the awarding of the Prize.

Dr Rudnicka spoke about using ophthalmic epidemiology to examine the risk factors related to the development of ocular outcomes, focussing on the examples of early life determinants of childhood myopia and global variations in primary open angle glaucoma prevalence. The lecture then introduced the concept of the eye as a window to the vascular system, illustrating the relationship between quantitative measures of the retinal vasculature, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Automated systems for quantifying the retinal vascular tree exist, although their use in clinical practice is limited at present. Dr Rudnicka talked about the potential for using these automated systems to aid risk prediction and management of health outcomes in conditions such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

2015: Professor Joanne Wood
Awarded for contributions to the fields of vision, ageing and driving

Professor Wood's work at the Queensland University of Technology's School of Optometry and Vision Science, in Australia, has focused on the areas of vision, ageing and driving. Her contributions in this area have been important because they have developed an original and multidisciplinary approach to research.

Professor Wood received the prize before presenting the George Giles Memorial Lecture at Optometry Tomorrow 2015. Her lecture provided an overview of recent literature indicating which visual functions are important for safe driving, and these research findings are related to the practical issues regarding vision testing for licensing and assessing fitness to drive.

The whole lecture is available for free to College members here. Please note, unless logged in the video will time out after two minutes.

2012: Dr Jeremy Guggenheim
Awarded for research into the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in myopia development

Dr Guggenheim’s research looks into the genetic linkages in myopia. In particular, his work on the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in myopia development has contributed significantly to the field.

The following papers on Dr Guggenheim's work are avaible to view.

Chen, Y-P., Hocking, PM, Wang L, Povazay B, Prashar A, To CH, Erichsen JT, Feldkaemper, M., Hofer, B., Drexler, W., Schaeffel, F., Guggenheim, JA., (2011).  Selective breeding for susceptibility to myopia reveals a gene-environment interaction. IOVS 52 (7), 4003-4011.

Guggenheim, JA., Northstone K, McMahon G, Ness AR, Deere K, Mattocks C, St Pourcain B, Williams C., (2012). Time Outdoors and physical activity as predictors of incident myopia in childhood: A prospective cohort study. IOVS 53 (6), 2856-2865.

Chen, YP., Prashar, A., Erichsen, JT., To, CH., Hocking, PM., Guggenheim JA., (2011). Heritability of ocular component dimensions in chickens: Genetic variants controlling susceptibility to experimentally-induced myopia and pre-treatment eye size are disctinct. IOVS 52 (7), 4012-4020. 

Chen, YP., Prashar, A., Hocking, PM., Erichsen, JT., To, CH., Schaeffel, F., Guggenheim, JA., (2010). Sex, eye size, and the rate of myopic eye growth due to form deprivation in outbred White Leghorn chickens. IOVS 51 (2), 651-657.


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The Neil Charman Medal for Research

The College's annual Award for outstanding research by a College member, the Medal is to honour excellent research at a level above postgraduate.

2020: Dr Rebekka Heitmar
Awarded for a cross-disciplinary approach to ocular haemodynamics and a commitment to dissemination beyond the field of optometry

Dr Heitmar is a Lecturer in Optometry and a member of the Optometry and Vision Science Research Group at Aston University.

Her research was recognised for being cross-disciplinary in both method and dissemination, ensuring that optometric knowledge is shared beyond the profession and able to benefit other fields of research and practice. Some of her work is available below.

Rebekka Heitmar, Robert P. Cubbidge. Retinal Vessel Oxygen Saturation Measurement Protocols and Their Agreement. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2020;9(6):17.

Heitmar, R, Nicholl, P, Lee, B, Lau, YC & Lip, GYH 2018. The relationship of systemic markers of haemostasis with retinal blood vessel responses in cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes. British Journal of Biomedical Science, 75(3), 116-121.

Heitmar, R, Vekria, P & Cubbidge, RP 2017. Regulation of oxygen saturation in retinal blood vessels in response to dynamic exercise. Acta Ophthalmologica, 96: e298-e303.

2019: Dr Ruth Hogg
Awarded for work in the area of macular degeneration and disease

Dr Ruth Hogg is Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast. She was recognised for her work in the area of macular degeneration and disease. A couple of her papers are available below.

McCarter RV, McKay GJ, Quinn NB, Chakravarthy U, MacGillivray TJ, Robertson G, Pellegrini E, Trucco E, Williams MC, Peto T, Dhillon B, van Beek EJ, Newby DE, Kee F, Young IS, Hogg RE. Evaluation of coronary artery disease as a risk factor for reticular pseudodrusen. Br J Ophthalmol. 2018 Apr;102(4):483-489

Cipriani V, Hogg RE, Sofat R, Moore AT, Webster AR, Yates JRW, Fletcher AE; European Eye (EUREYE) Study Group. Association of C-Reactive Protein Genetic Polymorphisms With Late Age-Related Macular Degeneration. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017 Sep 1;135(9):909-916

2018: Dr Nicola Logan
Awarded for research into the mechanisms of myopic eyes

Dr Nicola Logan is a Reader in Optometry & Physiological Optics and Director of the Ophthalmic Research Group at Aston University.

Dr Logan’s work has focused on the mechanisms of myopic eyes. In particular, it has looked at how accurately axial length measurements relate to refractive error and the consequences for the findings of myopia control intervention studies. Her research has also suggested that certain measurements of retinal surface area are consistent with a likelihood of breaks in the retina that are associated with posterior vitreous detachment.

Such research is vital for an area like myopia, which is increasingly prevalent but still not fully understood.

Below are some examples of Dr Logan's work:

Cruickshank FE & Logan NS. Optical ‘dampening’ of the refractive error to axial length ratio: implications for outcome measures in myopia control studies. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2018; 38: 290-297 (open access).

Nagra, M., Gilmartin, B., Thai, N.J. and Logan, N.S. (2017), Determination of retinal surface area. J. Anat., 231: 319-324.

2017: Dr Keziah Latham
Awarded for work in the area of low vision, its assessment and its effects

Dr Latham is a Reader in the Visual Function and Physiology Research Group, Department of Vision and Hearing Sciences, at Anglia Ruskin University.

Dr Latham won the Neil Charman Medal for her work in the area of low vision, its assessment and its effects. In particular, she has looked at 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 below papers represent some of Dr Latham’s work in these areas.

Latham K, Katsou MF, Rae S. Advising patients on visual fitness to drive: implications of revised DVLA regulationsBritish Journal of Ophthalmology 2015;99:545-548

Latham K, Baranian M, Timmis M, Pardhan S (2015) Emotional Health of People with Visual Impairment Caused by Retinitis Pigmentosa. PLoS ONE10(12): e0145866.

Keziah Latham, Mohammad Baranian, Matthew A. Timmis, Shahina Pardhan; Difficulties With Goals of the Dutch ICF Activity Inventory: Perceptions of Those With Retinitis Pigmentosa and of Those Who Support Them. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(4):2381-2391. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-16237.

2016: Dr Julie-Anne Little
Awarded for research in the areas of paediatrics and learning disabilities

Dr Little is a Senior Lecturer in Optometry and Vision Science at Ulster University. She received the Neil Charman Medal for her work in the area of paediatric vision, in particular children with special educational needs and complex visual problems.


2015: Dr Hema Radhakrishnan
Awarded for research into ocular accommodation and collagen cross linking

Dr Radhakrishnan is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester. She was awarded the 2015 Neil Charman Medal for Research for her work on ocular accommodation and collagen cross linking, with the Awards Panel delighted to be able to recognise this work.

A published research paper in relation to this work is below.

Beshtawi, I., Akhtar, R., Hillarby, M., O'Donnell, C., Zhao, X., Brahma, A., Carley, F., Derby, B. & Radhakrishnan, H (2014). Biomechanical changes after repeated collagen cross-linking on human corneas assessed in vitro using scanning acoustic microscopy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 55(3), 1549-54.

2014: Dr Jonathan Denniss
Awarded for research into improving clinical tests for the diagnosis and monitoring of glaucoma

Dr Jonathan Denniss is a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham. He received the Neil Charman Medal for Research for post-doctoral work undertaken largely at the University of Melbourne in Australia between 2011 and 2013.

In the diagnosis and monitoring of glaucoma, clinicians rely on combining information from multiple tests (imaging, perimetry, etc.) to make their clinical decisions. To combine this information in an objective way requires the use of a structure-function map that relates visual field locations to regions of the optic nerve head and surrounding retinal nerve fibre layer. Existing schemes used in world-wide clinical practice employ a low-resolution (six regions), one-size-fits-all approach based on data from a small population of eyes. This existing approach is inflexible to different clinical tests (such as different visual field test patterns), and does not take into account the considerable differences in ocular anatomy between different patients, meaning that the map may be a poor fit to individual patients.

Jonathan and his colleagues have addressed this important clinical problem by developing a novel computational approach to mapping the visual field to the optic nerve head. Their method allows maps to be produced that are tailored to the individual patient’s ocular anatomy, for any set of visual field locations (and therefore flexible for use with different tests), and with high resolution (up to 1° optic nerve head sectors).

The below articles represent a sample of Jonathan’s work and are available in full, for free, below.

Jonathan Denniss, Allison M. McKendrick, Andrew Turpin (2012). An anatomically customizable computational model relating the visual field to the optic nerve head in individual eyes. IOVS 53 (11), 6981-6990.

Jonathan Denniss, Andrew Turpin, Fumi Tanabe, Chota Matsumoto, Allison M. McKendrick (2014). Structure–function mapping: variability and conviction in tracing retinal nerve fibre bundles and comparison to a computational model. IOVS 55 (2), 728-736.

Jonathan Denniss, Andrew Turpin, Allison M. McKendrick (2014). Individualized structure-function mapping for glaucoma: practical constraints on map resolution for clinical and research applications. IOVS 55 (3), 1985-1993.

2013: Dr Peter Allen
Awarded for research looking at the interface between vision and reading difficulties

Dr Peter Allen is Head of the Visual Function and Physiology Research grup at Anglia Ruskin University.  His research includes work looking at Visual Stress, where symptoms of reading difficulties are associated with perceptual distortion.

Coloured overlays are often prescribed by optometrists to alleviate the symptoms of distortion associated with Visual Stress. Peter and his colleagues investigated the effects of coloured overlays on accommodation, in particular the lag of accommodation behind the plane of the reading material. Accommodative lag was greater in those with Visual Stress than controls, and was selectively reduced in the Visual Stress group with coloured overlays.

A paper covering this work was published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science in December 2010 and is available for free here.

2012: Dr Lisa O'Donoghue
Awarded for research into the epidemiology of refractive error

Dr Lisa O'Donoghue and her team investigated whether looking at uncorrected visual acuity is an appropriate way to detect refractive errors in a section of the population.

The work was part funded by the College and a paper from the project is available below.

Lisa O'Donoghue, Alicja R. Rudnicka, Julie F. McClelland, Nicola S. Logan, Kathryn J. Saunders (2012). Visual acuity measures do not reliably detect childhood refractive error - an epidemiological study. PLoS ONE 7(3): e34441. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034441.

2011: Dr Mhairi Day
Awarded for research investigating the underlying cause of myopia development and progression

This research aimed to investigate the underlying cause of myopia development and/or progression by studying the accommodation response. The role of the accommodation microfluctuations in the accommodation response mechanism was investigated, along with the refractive group differences in response to various targets (Day, Gray, Seidel & Strang, 2009; Day, Seidel, Gray & Strang, 2009). The work provides a possible explanation for cause of the reduction in sensitivity to blur that myopes demonstrate.

Part of the research was funded by a College Research Fellowship Award, and led to the development of a lightweight device to measure pupil size, eye movements and refractive error. For the first time, real-time analysis of blink removal and power spectrum can be conducted, considerably reducing time spent in analysis post-recording. The development of this device has opened up a whole series of future experiments that can investigate pupil size, eye movements and refractive error all binocularly, and in natural viewing conditions it can provide vital information about the oculomotor response in different refractive error groups.

Related research papers:
Day, M., Gray, L. S., Seidel, D. & Strang, N. C. (2009). The relationship between object spatial profile and accommodation microfluctuations in emmetropes and myopes. J Vis, 9(10), 5 1-13.

Day, M., Seidel, D., Gray, L. S. & Strang, N. C. (2009). The effect of modulating ocular depth of focus upon accommodation microfluctuations in myopic and emmetropic subjects. Vision Res, 49(2), 211-8.

2010: Professor Leon Davies
Awarded for research into the effect of ageing on in vivo human ciliary muscle morphology and contractility

This research, undertaken through a College Research Fellowship Award, provided important information about presbyopia through the largest in vivo study to date investigating relaxed and contracted ciliary muscle characteristics across a broad range of subject ages.

The research provides evidence that supports a lensocentric model of presbyopia development, whereby continued growth and alterations in lenticular viscoelastic properties reduce the ability of the capsule to mould the lens into an accommodated form.


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The Philip Cole Prize for practice-based research

For excellence in practice-based research by College members, this Prize is to honour the important contribution that practising optometrists continue to make to the optometric evidence base.

2020: Dr Shelley Black and Dr Emma McConnell
Jointly awarded for research that has impacted on paediatric optometry and children with learning disabilities

Dr Shelley Black and Dr Emma McConnell are both Research Associates in Optometry and Vision Science at Ulster University.

Their prize-winning work centred around The Special Education Eyecare (SEE) project (funded by Action Medical Research), a research study exploring an alternative, in-school model of eyecare for children in special education settings. The project measured, for the first time, the benefits of this alternative framework to children's vision and learning.

The work has been published and is available below. You can also see a video of the main findings and find out more about the project on the SEE project website.

Black SA, McConnell EL, McKerr L, McClelland JF, Little JA, et al. (2019) In-school eyecare in special education settings has measurable benefits for children’s vision and behaviour. PLOS ONE 14(8): e0220480

2019: Dr Lesley Doyle
Awarded for research in the area of paediatrics and cycloplegic refraction

Dr Doyle is a Research Associate in Optometry and Vision Science, in the School of Biomedical Sciences at Ulster University.

Dr Doyle’s award-winning work was the first study to report practitioner use of cycloplegia, and attitudes to using it to assess childhood refractive error and prescribing spectacles for children, from a large number of UK‐based optometrists working in a variety of settings. The majority of respondents were positive about its use and reported patterns of use which adhere closely to available professional guidance, but it also indicated that they may appreciate more comprehensive evidence‐based resources to inform their decision‐making relating to the use of cycloplegia in paediatric examination.

The paper describing this work is available below.

Doyle, LA, McCullough, SJ & Saunders, KJ. Cycloplegia and spectacle prescribing in children: attitudes of UK optometristsOphthalmic Physiol Opt 2019; 39: 148– 161

2018: Jasleen Jolly
Awarded for research into biomarkers to help identify inherited and genetic retinal diseases

Jasleen Jolly is an optometrist working at the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology and Wellcome Integrative Neuroimaging Centre, University of Oxford, and Oxford Eye Hospital.

Jasleen’s work has looked at biomarkers to help identify inherited and genetic retinal diseases. Based in an eye hospital clinic, she used techniques including autofluorescence to gain greater insight into specific ways of tracking the progression of these diseases, and also their impact on practical vision and so daily life for the patient.

You can read more about Jasleen's research below.

Jasleen K. Jolly, Kanmin Xue, Thomas L. Edwards, Markus Groppe, Robert E. MacLaren; Characterizing the Natural History of Visual Function in Choroideremia Using Microperimetry and Multimodal Retinal Imaging. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(12):5575-5583. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-22486.

Jasleen K. Jolly, Siegfried K. Wagner, Jonathan Moules, Florian Gekeler, Andrew R. Webster, Susan M. Downes, Robert E. MacLaren; A Novel Method for Quantitative Serial Autofluorescence Analysis in Retinitis Pigmentosa Using Image Characteristics. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2016;5(6):10. doi: 10.1167/tvst.5.6.10.

Jasleen K. Jolly, Thomas L. Edwards, Jonathan Moules, Markus Groppe, Susan M. Downes, Robert E. MacLaren; A Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment of Fundus Autofluorescence Patterns in Patients With Choroideremia. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(10):4498-4503. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-18362.

2017: Steven Whittaker
Awarded for an evaluation of Independent Prescribing Optometry in Scotland

Steven Whittaker is an optometrist based in an independent practice in Carnoustie in Scotland. He won the Philip Cole Prize for practice-based research projects for part of his MSc in Ophthalmology, undertaken at the University of Edinburgh, looking at Independent Prescribing Optometry.

Independent Prescribing Optometry (IPO) has been practised since 2011, and there are now some 499 IP optometrists in the UK. This study covered five full years of IPO patient episodes in two, linked community General Ophthalmic Services practices in relatively rural locations in Scotland, and analysed the day-to-day practicalities and outcomes.

The work is currently being written up for publication.

2016: Nicholas Rumney
Awarded for research in the areas of dry eye practice and macular hole services

Nicholas Rumney is a Senior Optometrist at BBR Optometry in Hereford.

As well as teaching and speaking at various international conferences, he has undertaken research into how specific sections of optometric care are currently delivered. He won the Philip Cole Prize (accepted in absentia) for his work looking at dry eye practice and macular hole services, some of the results of which are available below.

W Amoaku, P Cackett, A Tyagi, U Mahmood, J Nosek, G Mennie, N Rumney. Redesigning services for the management of vitreomacular traction and the macular hole. Eye (2014), 28; S1-S10.

Downie LE, Rumney N, Gad A, Keller PR, Purslow C & Vingrys AJ. Comparing self-reported optometric dry eye clinical practices in Australia and the United Kingdom: is there scope for practice improvement?. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 2016; 36: 140–151.

2015: Dr Peter Campbell
Awarded for research into anterior chamber angle assessment

Dr Peter Campbell completed a College-funded Small Grant Scheme project in 2013. This practice-based research compared clinical techniques for anterior chamber angle assessment, and assessed their relative merits for clinical practice.

The work was published in March 2015 in the below paper.

Campbell P, Redmond T, Agarwal R, Marshall LR, Evans BJW. Repeatability and comparison of clinical techniques for anterior chamber angle assessment. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2015; 35: 170–178.

2014: Dr Ross Henderson
Awarded for research into the different GOS arrangements in England and Scotland and their impact on patient care

Dr Ross Henderson has a PhD in vision science and over 20 years service in independent, chain and hospital practices. Dr Henderson is Optometric Advisor for NHS Tayside and was the first Scottish trained optometrist to qualify with a Diploma in Therapeutics and Ophthalmology Co-management. He received the Philip Cole Prize for practice-based research for his College-funded Small Grant Scheme project, completed in 2011.

Prior to 2006, General Ophthalmic Service (GOS) arrangements in Scotland and England were similar. In 2006, the Review of Community Eyecare Services in Scotland highlighted the importance of the role of community optometrists in the management of eye conditions and, in response to this document, statutory changes within the NHS (The National Health Service (General Ophthalmic Services) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2006, 2010) in Scotland provided for GOS (community) eye examinations that are universally free and flexible with regard to patients’ needs.

Ross’ research compared Scottish and English GOS to identify areas of practice that might be influenced by the different GOS arrangements north and south of the border and evaluated their impact on patient care. It looked at the eye conditions detected and recorded by optometrists and found that similar eye conditions were detected in Scotland and England.However advice given or action taken as a result of an examination was provided to a higher proportion of patients in Scotland.English GOS patients were more likely to incur private charges or have Primary Care Trusts provide funding for supplementary examinations in addition to the NHS sight test.

A paper covering Ross’ work is available free to College members below (please log-in to view).

A comparison of Scottish and English General Ophthalmic Services: a preliminary evaluation of the impact on patient care (Optometry in Practice 2012, Volume 13 Issue 4, 139 – 150).

2013: Dr Ian Beasley
Awarded for work investigating the possible association between pattern glare and stroke

Ian’s practice-based doctorate work, undertaken at Aston University, measured susceptibility to pattern glare within a stroke population.

It showed an association between stroke subjects and elevated levels of pattern glare, with cortical hyperexcitability identified as a plausible explanation. A paper on this work is available below.

Ian G. Beasley, Leon N. Davies (2012). Susceptibility to pattern glare following stroke. Journal of Neurology 259 (9), 1832-1839.

2012: Shona Hadwin
Awarded for research looking at the performance of UK optometrists in evaluating the appearance of optic disc images

This study, funded by the iPRO Small Grants Scheme, investigated the performance of UK optometrists in evaluating the appearance of optic disc images for the presence of glaucoma.

The study was published in the below paper (available to College members and subscribers only).

Hadwin SE, Redmond T, Garway-Heath DF, Lemij HG, Reus NJ, Ward G, Anderson RS. Assessment of optic disc photographs for glaucoma by UK optometrists: the Moorfields Optic Disc Assessment Study (MODAS).Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2013, 33, 618-624. doi: 10.1111/opo.12066

2011: Michael Beech
Awarded for research to validate an online referral guide for melanocytic fundus lesions

This work, supported by the College's Small Grant Scheme funding, undertook to evaluate a referral tool for melanocytic fundus lesions.

The project confirmed that there was substantial agreement between optometrists and an ocular oncologist in the planned management of these lesions, and that the tool could even be developed further to make it more effective in future.

2010: Dr Jonathan Pointer
Awarded for research investigating habitual versus optimal visual acuity

Dr Pointer’s research has demonstrated the importance of using optimal correction in vision-related studies. This is a very useful contribution to recommended research methodology, and will help to enhance the conclusions of future research projects.


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The Giles Van Colle Memorial Award (in conjunction with the Giles Van Colle Memorial Foundation)

This Award is for outstanding research or clinical case work relating to paediatric optometry.

2019: Lisa Donaldson
Awarded for work investigating the provision of eye care in children attending special schools

Lisa Donaldson is Head of Eye Health at the charity SeeAbility.

Lisa’s work has looked at the attitudes of parents toward eye care for their young children (4–6‐year‐olds) and possible barriers to accessing eye care for this age group. She has also undertaken investigations into the provision of eye care in children attending special schools, and through her role at SeeAbility she has been able to inform better guidelines for the provision of effective eye care for these children.

Some of her published papers are available below.

Donaldson LA, Karas M, O’Brien D, Woodhouse JM (2019). Findings from an opt-in eye examination service in English special schools. Is vision screening effective for this population? PLoS ONE 14(3): e0212733

Donaldson, L., Subramanian, A. and Conway, M. L. (2018). Eye care in young children: a parent survey exploring access and barriers. Clin Exp Optom, 101: 521-526

2017: Dr Valldeflors Viñuela Navarro
Awarded for work to characterise eye movements in children with learning-related difficulties

Dr Viñuela Navarro is a Lecturer in Optometry in the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University. She undertook this award-winning and College-funded research at Cardiff University.

Children with delayed reading skills and/or poor academic performance are increasingly being referred to Eye Care Professionals with suspected eye movement difficulties. However, the current clinical techniques for the examination of eye movements in clinical practice are very subjective and relatively imprecise. So Eye Care Professionals face challenges in recognising and diagnosing eye movement disorders, and consequently, are probably failing to support and/or manage these children as well as they might.

Dr Viñuela Navarro’s project suggested 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.

2015: Lynne Speedwell
Awarded for work in the area of prescribing contact lenses to help treat pathological conditions in children

Lynne Speedwell is Head of the Optometry Unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.

The Giles Van Colle Memorial Award is awarded in conjunction with the Giles Van Colle Memorial Foundation, and it recognises outstanding research or clinical case work relating to paediatric optometry. Both the College and the Foundation were delighted to recognise Lynne's contribution to practice in the prescribing of contact lenses to help treat pathological conditions in children, which she has worked to disseminate through her work in writing and co-editing text books such as Contact Lenses (published by Elsevier).

2013: Dr Dorothy Thompson
Awarded for research to help children's sight by looking at retinal damage caused by metabolic illness

Dr Dorothy Thompson is an optometrist, who works as a consultant clinical scientist in visual electrophysiology at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.  Her studies of the retina in children with a rare metabolic condition, and the ensuing progressive pigmentary retinopathy, demonstrated a similarity in pathology with stationary night blindness.  This finding has helped to develop a way of investigating for the presence of metabolic illness, and the threat to sight that can ensue.

Dorothy’s work has been published in the below paper.

Thompson DA, Lyons RJ, Liasis A, Russell-Eggitt I, Jägle H, Grünewald S. Retinal On-Pathway Deficit in Congenital Disorder of Glycosylation Due to Phosphomannomutase Deficiency. Arch Ophthalmol. 2012;130(6):712-719.

2011: Rasmeet Chadha
Awarded for work investigating the effect of visual impairment on the quality of life of children aged 3-16 years old

This work explored the under-researched area of quality of life for visually impaired children.  It found that those with visual impairment scored lower in quality of life tests than children who were not visually impaired.


It emphasised the need for further research into the benefits of various habilitation methods on quality of life. The work was published in the paper below (please note, only the abstract free to view).

Rasmeet K. Chadha, Ahalya Subramanian (2010). The effect of visual impairment on quality of life of children aged 3–16 years. Br J Ophthalmol doi:10.1136/bjo.2010.182386


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The Bernard Gilmartin OPO Award

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.

2020: 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

Chua, SYL,  Sabanayagam, C,  Cheung, Y‐B,  Chia, A,  Valenzuela, RK,  Tan, D,  Wong, TY,  Cheng, C‐Y,  Saw, S‐M. Age of onset of myopia predicts risk of high myopia in later childhood in myopic Singapore childrenOphthalmic Physiol Opt 2016; 36: 388– 394.

This award-winning paper investigated the effect of age of myopia onset on the severity of myopia later in life among myopic children.

The authors found that age of myopia onset or duration of myopia progression was the most important predictor of high myopia in later childhood in myopic children. They suggested that future trials to delay the progression of myopia to high myopia could focus on children with younger age of myopia onset or with longer duration of myopia progression.

2019: Dr Pavan Kumar Verkicharla, Professor Kyoko Ohno-Matsui and Professor Seang Mei Saw

Verkicharla PK, Ohno-Matsui K & Saw SM. Current and predicted demographics of high myopia and an update of its associated pathological changes. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2015; 35: 465–475. doi: 10.1111/opo.12238

Dr Pavan Kumar Verkicharla is a Scientist in the Myopia Lab of the LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India, Professor Kyoko Ohno-Matsui is Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and Professor Seang Mei Saw is Co-Head of the Myopia Research Group at the Singapore Eye Research Institute.

Their award-winning review paper, ‘Current and predicted demographics of high myopia and an update of its associated pathological changes’, was published in OPO in August 2015. It suggested that current prevalence rates of pathologic myopia in older adults might have significantly underestimated the future prevalence rates and warrants age of onset of myopia being considered a major risk factor for pathologic myopia.

2018: Professor Robert Hess, Professor Benjamin Thompson and Professor Daniel Baker

Hess RF, Thompson B and Baker DH. Binocular vision in amblyopia: structure, suppression and plasticity. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2014; 34: 146–162. (free access)

Professor Robert Hess works in the Department of Ophthalmology at McGill University, Montreal, Professor Benjamin Thompson is based in the Department of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Auckland, and Professor Daniel Baker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of York.

Their award-winning Invited Review was published in OPO in 2014, and it provided an overview of studies that investigated the structure, measurement and treatment of binocular vision in observers with strabismic, anisometropic and mixed amblyopia.

2017: Professor Ian Morgan and Professor Kathryn Rose

Morgan IG, Rose KA. Myopia and international educational performance. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2013; 33: 329–338.

Professor Ian Morgan (pictured) is a Visiting Fellow in the Research School of Biology at Australian National University College of Science, and Associate Professor Kathryn Rose is based in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney. Their award-winning paper was published in OPO in May 2013, and the Award was accepted by Professor Morgan on behalf of both authors.

Their paper analysed the relationship between myopia, educational performance and engagement in after-school tutorial classes.

Their results showed that 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. They suggested that extensive use of after-school tutorials may be a marker of educational environments which impose high educational loads, and that policy initiatives to decrease these loads may contribute to the prevention of myopia, perhaps, at least in part, by enabling children to spend more time outdoors.

2016: Dr Richard Armstrong

Armstrong RA. When to use the Bonferroni correction. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 34: 502-508.

Dr Armstrong is a Lecturer in Neurosciences in the Vision Sciences section of the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University. His award-winning paper looked at the Bonferroni correction, which adjusts probability values to try and minimise the risk of errors when making multiple statistical tests, but which also comes with its own statistical risks and is not suitable for every study. The paper surveyed how it has been used in research articles in three optometric journals, and provided advice to authors in the general area of multiple testing.

2015: Professor Carly Siu-Yin Lam, Chin-Hang Lam, Dr Sam Chi-Kwan Cheng and Dr Lily Yee-Lai Chan

Lam CS-Y, Lam C-H, Cheng SC-K & Chan LY-L. Prevalence of myopia among Hong Kong Chinese schoolchildren: changes over two decades. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2012, 32, 17–24

This paper was written by colleagues at the Centre for Myopia Research in the School of Optometry at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The Award was accepted on behalf of the authors by Professor Carly Siu-Yin Lam.

The paper outlined a cross-sectional study that aimed to determine the current prevalence of myopia amongst Hong Kong Chinese schoolchildren and whether there had been any increase over the last two decades. It found that the prevalence of myopia amongst this population was similar to that of two decades ago, and therefore no evidence of an increase in prevalence during this period. It did, though, find that the prevalence and degree of myopia was high in this group when compared with figures for other ethnic groups.

2014: Professor Seang-Mei Saw, Dr Chen-Wei Pan and Dr Dharani Ramamurthy

Pan C-W, Ramamurthy D & Saw S-M. Worldwide prevalence and risk factors for myopia. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2012, 32, 3–16.

This paper was written by colleagues at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore.  Professor Seang-Mei Saw collected the Award on behalf of the whole team.

Myopia, the most common type of refractive error, is a complex trait including both genetic and environmental factors. Numerous studies have tried to elucidate the aetiology of myopia, but the exact aetiology is still unclear.

This paper summarised the worldwide patterns and trends for the prevalence of myopia and evaluated its risk factors in population-based studies.

It found that environmental factors play a crucial role in myopia development, but that the effect of gene-environment interaction on the aetiology of myopia is still controversial with inconsistent findings in different studies. Longitudinal cohort studies or randomised clinical trials of community-based health behaviour interventions should be conducted to further clarify this area.

2013: Professor Brendan Barrett

Barrett, B. T. (2009). A critical evaluation of the evidence supporting the practice of behavioural vision therapy. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 29: 4–25.

Professor Brendan Barrett is a Professor of Visual Development at the University of Bradford. His 2008 paper looked at the evidence to support the theory and practice of behavioural optometry. It showed a lack of controlled trials in the literature to support the approaches of behavioural optometry, and he concluded that, because most such approaches are not evidence-based, they cannot be supported.

2012: Dr TJ Van Den Berg, Dr L Franssen, Dr JE Coppens

Van Den Berg, T. J. T. P., Franssen, L. and Coppens, J. E. (2009). Straylight in the human eye: testing objectivity and optical character of the psychophysical measurement. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 29: 345–350 (available to College members and subscribers only).

Dr Van Den Berg collected the award on behalf of his co-authors. Their paper looked at whether measures of straylight given by the psychophysical technique are compatible with those made by optical methods.

2011: Dr R Calver, Prof D O'Leary, Dr E Osuobeni, Dr H Radhakrishnan

Calver, R., Radhakrishnan, H., Osuobeni, E. and O’Leary, D. (2007). Peripheral refraction for distance and near vision in emmetropes and myopes. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 27: 584–593.


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The George Giles Postgraduate Research Prize

For outstanding postgraduate research by College members, nominations or applications are welcomed from all PhD or Masters research projects.

2020: Dr Reena Chopra
Awarded for the development of artificial intelligence in optometry and ophthalmology, and its application to AMD

Dr Chopra is a Clinician Scientist at Google Health. She won the George Giles Postgraduate Research Prize for her PhD, which she undertook at University College London and Moorfields Eye Hospital and completed in 2021.

Reena's PhD explored cutting edge methods to improve disease detection in opthalmology, work which will affect clinical practice as well as our understanding of ocular disease progression. In particular, Dr Chopra's 2020 paper in the journal Nature Medicine described a deep learning model to predict which eyes will progress to wet AMD, and is available below.

Yim J., Chopra, R., Spitz, T., Winkens, J., Obika, A., Kelly, C., Askham, H., Lukic, M., Huemer, J., Fasler, K. and Moraes, G., 2020. Predicting conversion to wet age-related macular degeneration using deep learning. Nature Medicine, pp.1-8

2019: Dr Laura Edwards
Awarded for work in the area of public health relating to optometry

Dr Edwards is a Post-doctoral research fellow and specialist optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Trust in London. Her PhD work involved using ‘pop-up’ health clinics in shopping centres across the UK. The clinic offered a free check for elevated intraocular eye pressure, but also offered a free blood pressure check 50% of the time, to investigate how this might encourage engagement with the eye health assessment. She was able to assess both the effect of the different offers and correlations between location and issues found. This work is an important contribution to the research about optometry’s role in the area of public health.

A couple of the published papers from the work is available below:

Edwards, L. A., Campbell, P., Taylor, D. J., Shah, R., Edgar, D. F., & Crabb, D. P. (2019). Healthy shopper? Blood pressure testing in a shopping centre Pop-Up in England. BMC public health, 19(1), 42.

Edwards LA, Taylor DJ, Campbell P, et al. Feeling the pressure: a cross-sectional study exploring feasibility of a healthcare Pop-Up for intraocular pressure measurements in shopping centres in England. BMJ Open 2019;9:e030523. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-030523

2018: Dr Nilpa Shah
Awarded for research to improve the measurement of visual function in clinical settings

Dr Nilpa Shah is a Specialist Optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

Dr Shah’s research looked at improving the measurement of visual function in clinical settings, and gave rise to the development of the Moorfields Acuity Chart. This chart uses optotypes that disappear as they become too small for the eye to resolve, and demonstrates less variability between tests and a more equal difficulty of different letters compared to conventional high-contrast acuity charts. Research has also suggested it is more sensitive to the effects of early AMD when compared with conventional logMAR acuity tests.

The chart is now commercially available, and so is available to help clinicians in practice.

You can read more about Dr Shah's work below.

Shah N, Dakin SC, Dobinson S, et al Visual acuity loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration measured using a novel high-pass letter chart. British Journal of Ophthalmology 2016;100:1346-1352.

2017: Deanna Taylor
Awarded for research focused on visual disability in dry age-related macular degeneration

Deanna Taylor is a PhD student, coming towards the end of her period of study, in the Division of Optometry and Visual Science at City, University of London.

Her research has focused on visual disability in dry age-related macular degeneration. Her work has demonstrated that there is a disproportionately-low focus on dry AMD amongst published studies. It has also looked at the impact of AMD on real-world activities of daily living, and so 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.

The below papers have been published from Deanna’s PhD so far.

Taylor DJ, Hobby AE, Binns AM, et al. How does age-related macular degeneration affect real-world visual ability and quality of life? A systematic review. BMJ Open 2016;6:e011504. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011504

Taylor DJ, Smith ND, Crabb DP. Searching for objects in everyday scenes: measuring performance in people with dry age-related macular degeneration. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017;58:1887–1892.

2016: Dr Andrew Logan
Awarded for research into visual perception and face discrimination

Dr Logan is a Lecturer in Optometry at the University of Bradford. He undertook his PhD at Glasgow Caledonian University, and finished in December 2014.

Dr Logan's work included the development of a new computerised test of face perception ability intended for use in clinical environments. It is fast, repeatable, and provides a quantifiable assessment of face discrimination ability, making it a promising candidate for the clinical. It may also be more sensitive than existing tests.

A published article from the PhD is available below.

Andrew J Logan, Frances Wilkinson, Hugh R Wilson, Gael E Gordon, Gunter Loffler (2016). The Caledonian face test: A new test of face discrimination. Vision Research 119, pp. 29-41.

2015: Dr Laura Sweeney
Awarded for research into the effect of 3D displays on binocular visual function

Dr Sweeney completed her PhD, a College-funded Postgraduate Scholarship, in 2015. Entitled 'The effect of stereoscopic display viewing upon sensory and motor aspects of binocular function', it represents a significant contribution to both our understanding of how the accommodation and vergence systems function and how abnormal stimulation by 3D targets can affect them.

A published article from the PhD is available below.

Sweeney, L. E., Seidel, D., Day, M. & Gray, L. S. 2014. Quantifying interactions between accommodation and vergence in a binocularly normal population. Vision research, 105, 121-129.

2014: Dr Pádraig Mulholland
Awarded for research into the relationship between measures of retinal structure and visual function

Dr Pádraig Mulholland is a Specialist Optometrist and the Interim Research Lead for Optometry at Moorfields Eye Hospital and he received the George Giles Postgraduate Research prize for his PhD work, completed in April 2014.

Padraig’s research has focused on the ability of the visual system to integrate light energy over both space and time and how this facility varies with differences in retinal ganglion cell density. The outcome of this research has significant implications for the optimal design of perimetric stimuli and potentially the nature of the relationship between measures of retinal structure and visual function.

Padraig is now in receipt of funding from the College (in the form of a Clinical Research Fellowship) to continue work in this area and, in the long-term, advance the translation of this research into a clinically viable instrument.

An abstract of Padraig’s work is available below.

Temporal summation varies with visual field eccentricity for perimetric stimuli scaled to the area of complete spatial summation (Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2013;54: E-Abstract 3924)

2013: Dr Andrew Astle
Awarded for research investigating the treatment of amblyopia in adults

Dr Astle completed his PhD in the Visual Neuroscience Group at the University of Nottingham.  His work looked at whether vision could be improved in adults with amblyopia (commonly referred to as a "lazy eye").

Amblyopia is a very common visual disorder that develops early in life and reduces vision in one eye. Treatment is usually restricted to childhood when the visual system is thought to be plastic.

Andrew's project challenged this idea and demonstrated significant clinical improvements in visual acuity, contrast sensitivity and stereoacuity (3D vision) using a technique called perceptual learning. Andrew is now looking at ways to optimise the technique to deliver greater improvements in individuals with this and related conditions.

Papers relating to Andrew’s work are available below.
Astle, A. T., McGraw, P. V., & Webb, B. S. (2011). Recovery of stereo acuity in adults with amblyopia. BMJ Case Reports, doi:10.1136/bcr.07.2010.314.

Astle, A. T., Webb, B. S., & McGraw P. V. (2011). The Pattern of Learned Visual Improvements in Adult Amblyopia. IOVS 52 (10), 7195-7204.

Astle, A. T., McGraw, P. V., & Webb, B. S. (2011). Can perceptual learning be used to treat amblyopia beyond the critical period of visual development? Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 31 (6), 564-573.

2012: Dr Amit Jinabhai
Awarded for research into higher order aberrations in keratoconus

The College funded Dr Jinabhai's PhD which investigated the effect of suspending rigid gas-permeable (RGP) contact lens wear in patients with keratoconus (irregular thinning and protrusion of the cornea).


It found that following RGP lens wear suspension, changes occured to both the patients' corneal profile and visual performance. This finding may impact on the management of keratoconic patients, particularly when prescribing alternative contact lens designs.

2011: Dr Daryl Tabrett
Awarded for research into the factors influencing self-reported visual function of the visually impaired

In this College funded PhD, Dr Tabrett produced important information about the effects of depression and the adjustment to vision loss in affecting peoples’ perceived disability due to vision loss.


It provides evidence to support the need for emotional support for people with low vision, and so by demonstrating the need for referral of those patients in need of emotional support makes a valuable contribution to optometric practice.

2010: Dr Tony Redmond
Awarded for research into spatial summation and the structure/function relationship with age and in glaucoma

Dr Redmond’s work has shed crucial light on the development of the eye in early glaucoma, and the conclusions will allow glaucoma testing to be further refined and improved. The thesis also provided substantial new insight into the relationship between retinal structure and retinal function.


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The Naylor Prize

The Naylor Prize recognises excellence in undergraduate projects from across all of the UK Optometry departments. It is named after Jon Naylor, a pioneering academic optometrist at the University of Manchester, who gained one of the UK profession's first PhD degrees for his work on the polarisation optics of the eye.

He also introduced project work for students who commenced the new Optometry degree course at Manchester in 1964. The Prize was created in his honour in 1986, has been awarded annually since then, and was kindly handed over to the College to join its portfolio of Research Excellence Awards in 2016.

The Prize honours a number of projects across various categories every year, and the winners are reported the following year in the College's research journal, Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics. The most recent winners, for 2019, can be found here (please note, member or subscriber only).

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