Glare leads to discomfort and impaired vision and can severely affect activities of daily living. The impact of glare on reading has been poorly investigated. Abnormalities of the iris, such as iris malformations and iris translucency (called iris transillumination) specifically lead to glare. Hence pigmentation disorders associated with albinism are one of the most common causes of glare disorders. People with albinism also commonly have infantile nystagmus (IN), involuntary oscillations of the eyes. The Ulverscroft Eye Unit research team in Leicester has been at the forefront of measuring eye movements in people with albinism and nystagmus as well as imaging the 3-dimensional structure of the eyes using a technique called optical coherence tomography (OCT). OCT can be used to generate high resolution cross-sectional images of the iris.
The overarching aim of this project is to understand the impact of glare on people with albinism and other types of IN, especially on the ability to read. We also aim to optimise the measurement of glare and explore strategies to alleviate glare. Consequently, the PhD will be in the area of clinical vision and will involve gaining expertise in a number of techniques including glare assessment measurement tools; imaging of the eyes using OCT especially in the measurement of iris structure; eye movement recording techniques using pupil video-oculography; clinical visual assessment and statistical techniques.
The student will join a strong research unit in the Ulverscroft Eye Unit with an international reputation for research into nystagmus, paediatric ophthalmology and imaging of the eye as evidenced by our strong publication track record. Within the department there are a multiplicity of facilities including adult and children’s optical coherence tomography imaging equipment; adult and children’s eye movement recording equipment, posturography equipment, clinical vision testing facilities, and wet labs for collecting genetic samples. We also carry out clinical trials for developmental eye diseases such as nystagmus and amblyopia. Several of our studies assessing functional vision in nystagmus looking at the impact of the disease on postural control, facial recognition and depth perception. These include the largest body of work into the effect of infantile nystagmus on reading.
The Ulverscroft Eye Unit is placed in the Vision Sciences research group within the department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour. Researchers in the Vision Sciences strand provide additional facilities and support offering expertise in reading research, as well as broader expertise in neuroscientific and visual psychophysical methods for investigating vision. We have an excellent track-record of supporting students and enabling career progression within our unit supported by the wider university. The data generated from this project will provide the basis for the student to explore post-doctoral fellowship funding opportunities to further progress this research.
As one of the UK's top research universities, the University of Leicester has an international reputation for world-leading research. The doctoral college in the University has an expansive researcher development programmes which will give you the skills you need to become an effective researcher, successfully complete your degree and take your expertise into a career beyond your PhD.