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The Anterior Eye Laboratory (AEL) at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, QUT, is located within the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) and is part of the Institute's Vision Improvement Domain.
The AEL conducts a broad array of research on topics related to the anterior eye. This research relates not only to the health of the eye itself, but also to general systemic health problems that can be detected and monitored as a result of changes occurring in the anterior eye. Much of this work at the present time revolves around the use of the corneal confocal microscope (CCM) - a relatively new instrument that is capable of imaging the anterior ocular structures at a cellular level in the living human eye.
The effects of contact lens wear on the anterior ocular structures is an important aspect of the research efforts of the AEL. The CCM is being used to assess changes in the bulbar and palpebral conjunctiva resulting from contact lens wear. This work may help solve the problem of ocular discomfort - especially towards the end of the day - suffered by most contact lens wearers, by documenting changes to various cell types on the ocular surface during lens wear.
A layer of the cornea of particular interest to diabetic physicians is the epithelial sub-basal nerve plexus. Researchers at the AEL have demonstrated that this layer shows evidence of degeneration in diabetic patients suffering from neuropathy, making CCM a potentially useful instrument for monitoring such patients.
Eye temperature is being measured using special infra-red ocular thermographic equipment in patients suffering from carotid artery stenosis. In such patients, there is a partial or complete blockage of blood flow through the neck to the eye. Reduced blood flow in the eye will lead to reduced eye temperature. Thus, ocular thermography is being tested for its potential to serve as a screening test for patients with carotid artery stenosis, a condition that is often a precursor to stroke.