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Is our tech-laden modern world wearing out your eyes? QUT eye health researcher and optometrist Associate Professor Scott Read says it’s a case of not just stopping to smell those flowers, but having a good look at them too.
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The Ophthalmic and Visual Optics Research Group is led by Dr David Atchison, a Professor in the School of Optometry and Vision Science at QUT. The group is based at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) and is part of the Institute's Vision Improvement Domain.
Professor Atchison has been researching in the field of visual optics for many years, and has published over 100 refereed publications.
The Ophthalmic and Visual Optics Research Group is currently investigating the characteristics of the accommodation response (ref 1-6), particularly as a function of age and when there are ambiguous stimuli to accommodation, such as objects at different distances and when astigmatism is present. Induced astigmatism produces a variety of different subject responses. Some subjects show a tracking response in which accommodation fluctuates to bring different aspects of a target into focus at different times. Professor Atchison's co-workers for this project are Lawrence Stark and Niall Strang.
For a number of years, Professor Atchison has investigated the optics of the eye and its effects on retinal image quality and visual performance (ref 7-13). Together with Russell Woods, Arthur Bradley and Niall Strang, he has demonstrated the presence of several "notches" in the contrast sensitivity function which occur as a result of defocus. The depth and spatial frequency of these notches are generally in good agreement with predictions based on measured aberrations (ref 14, 15).
In current research, Professor Atchison is investigating and comparing the validity of a number of different methods of measuring aberrations and image quality e.g. point spread function, Hartmann-Shack wavefront sensor, Howland aberroscope (ref 16), subjective vernier alignment techniques and contrast sensitivity. Aberrations of the peripheral vision field are being measured with the Hartmann-Shack sensor.
The figure shows examples of refractive index profiles from the centre of the lens nucleus to the lens surface of a 28-year-old lens (closed circles) and an 82-year-old lens (open circles).
The gradient index structure of the lens is being investigated in collaboration with Professor Jim Pope's MRI laboratory in the School of Chemistry, Physics and Mechanical Engineering at QUT. This work has shown that the refractive index of the nucleus of the lens reduces with age, thus reducing the contribution of the gradient index to the power of the lens. This explains the lens paradox, the phenomenon in which the lens becomes more curved throughout life, but where there is generally no increase in myopia (ref 17).
The SCE is the phenomemon by which light passing through the periphery of the eye??s pupil is less efficient at stimulating vision than is light passing near the centre of the pupil. It is often claimed that the SCE attenuates the effects of defocus and aberrations on visual performance, but evidence for this claim has been lacking. One way to estimate the influence of the SCE on visual performance is to measure the latter both when the SCE is naturally operating and when it is neutralised. We developed neutralising filters and used these to investigate the influence of the SCE. Our results (eg ref 18) support our theoretical investigations (ref 19, 20) in indicating that the SCE has only small influence on visual performance. Collaborators are Dion Scott, Niall Strang, George Smith, Pablo Artal and Susana Marcos.
Dion Scott, and Chitra and Kodikullam Avudainayagam working with the aberroscope in the Ophthalmic and Visual Optics Lab.
Professor Atchison's interest in the optics of the eye has included the optics of correcting devices. The optical design of spectacle lenses can usually be considered in isolation from the eye??s optics, with the eye merely providing the refractive error and centre of rotation (ref 21). This is certainly not the case for contact lenses (ref 22) and intraocular lenses (ref 23). Aspheric lens surfaces can be used for all three corrections. In the case of spectacle lenses, this can improve cosmesis without sacrificing optical performance (ref 24, 25). For contact lenses and intraocular lenses, aspherising surfaces can improve the optics (ref 21, 26). However, for all three modalities, good performance is lost when lenses are not optimally fitted.
Current research is investigating the possibility of correcting the peripheral aberrations of the eye using spectacle lenses with special refractive surfaces or holographic properties (ref 27). Collaborators are George Smith, Chitra Avudainayagam and Kodikullam Avudainayagam.