Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

NZ-NEC events




Sue Raynel

Sue Raynel

NZ-NEC Research and Development Manager
Department of Ophthalmology
Phone +64 9 373 7599 ext 86337 

Hutokshi Chinoy

Hutokshi Chinoy

NZ-NEC Chief Administrator
Department of Ophthalmology
Phone +64 9 373 7599 ext 86712 



2018 NZ-NEC Seminar Series



The 2018 NZ-NEC Seminar Series is kindly sponsored by Alcon.

Endophthalmitis - Clinical Associate Professor Philip Polkinghorne, Vitreo-Retinal Consultant, ADHB.

Intra-ocular infections are uncommon causes of ocular morbidity but can be devastating when they occur. Endophthalmitis is the term that describes this set of clinical features and in Auckland we manage about a case a month, mostly occurring as a complication following cataract surgery or intravitreal injections. In this talk I will describe what we have learnt in terms of establishing the diagnosis, managing the entity and future research plans.

Wednesday 14 May 2018, 4-5pm.

Conference Room, Domain Lodge, 1 Boyle Crescent.


Pharmacological Regulation of the Lens Internal Water Content and Its Effects on Physiological Optics - Yadi Chen - Doctoral Candidate, Department of Physiology.

Age-related changes to the optical properties of the ocular lens cause refractive errors, presby­opia and ultimately cataract. The Molecular Vision Laboratory has shown that lens optical power and vision quality are maintained by the active removal of water from the lens core. This lens internal water movement has also been shown to generate a hydrostatic pressure gradient which is subjected to a dual feedback regulation. However, the interaction between lens cellular physiology and its optical properties still remains unclear. In this current study, we aim to investigate the bovine lens optical changes elicited in response to regulation of the lens pressure gradient at the cellular level by using a microelectrode/pico-injector-based pressure measurement system and a laser ray tracing imaging system. Insights into the mechanisms responsible for the onset of optical changes will inform the development of novel pharmacological therapies to maintain vison quality in the elderly.

Cell-penetrating Peptide for Ocular Drug Delivery - Frazer Coutinho - Doctoral Candidate, Department of Ophthalmology.

Choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) is the hallmark of neovascular AMD, where the haemorrhage of leaky blood vessels in the choroid creates an inflammatory environment resulting in hemichannel mediated cell death including the loss of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells which maintain blood retinal barrier integrity and rod/cone function. Current treatments do not address the self-perpetuating, hemichannel mediated inflammatory and hypoxic environment underlying disease cause. The Connexin43 (Cx43) hemichannel specific intracellular acting peptide, Gap 19, can reduce hemichannel mediated cell death in response to inflammation and ischemia but has low cell permeability requiring high concentrations to achieve efficacy. By fusing Gap19 to the cell penetrating peptide, Xentry, we have developed an intracellular acting Cx43 hemichannel blocking fusion peptide, XG19, which enables low dose delivery yet treatment efficacy. Xentry interacts with cell surface expressed Syndecan-4, which we have found is highly expressed in hypoxic retinal cells. This means that XG19 preferentially targets hypoxic cells and can be delivered systemically as it is not sequestered by red blood cells. Our in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that this fusion peptide has therapeutic potential to shut down the inflammatory cycle and repair vascular damage that occurs with CNV as well as other inflammatory and hypoxic-ischemic diseases of the body.

Presented 11th April 2018.


Pathophysiology of Presbyopia and Ocular Trauma - Dr Matthew Reilly, Department of Biomedical Engineering & Ophthalmology, Ohio State University.

Presbyopia is the most common vision disorder, resulting in compromised near-vision for nearly all individuals over the age of 50. The mechanism(s) by which the eye becomes presbyopic remain poorly understood, though most indications point to natural aging processes in the lens, including growth, remodeling and stiffening. These changes, which occur in parallel, result in an altered balance of residual stresses between the lens and its capsule in the accommodated state. However, their respective contributions to presbyopia are as yet unknown. I will discuss the potential roles of biomechanics and mechanobiology in ocular development, refractive development, and pathophysiological changes following the onset of presbyopia and cataract extraction.

Ocular trauma is increasingly common in both military and civilian sectors, is the most common vision-related cause of hospitalization, and the fourth-most common type of battlefield injury. The increased use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is thought to be the main contributing factor to military eye injuries and may indicate that the eye is particularly susceptible to blast. We have developed experimental and computational models of blast injury to the eye to understand the mechanical injury mechanisms, offer improved diagnosis, and suggest preventative measures. Most recently, we developed a novel animal model for traumatic optic neuropathy which will be used to develop diagnostic criteria and test candidate treatments for this vision-threatening condition.

Presented 28th March 2018.


Shifting the Paradigms of Ophthalmic Drug Delivery - Professor Heather Sheardown, Department of Chemical Engineering, McMaster University, Canada.

Delivery of drugs to the eye remains the most significant challenge in ophthalmology, requiring new delivery paradigms. This talk will discuss a novel mucoadhesive micelle based system which has the potential to remain on the ocular surface for prolonged periods and has the potential to act as a better method of delivering drugs to the front of the eye in dry eye applications. In addition, novel injectable systems which gel in situ following injection and have the potential to last for periods of up to 6 months in the back of the eye have been developed. In vivo testing of the systems as well as methods of prolonging drug release from the systems will be discussed.

Presented 12th March 2018.


Inflammation of the Eye Leading to Cell Death: Gaining Insight Into a Range of Pathologies - Dr Monica Acosta, Senior Lecturer, School of Optometry and Vision Science.

The eye provides an excellent paradigm for examining mechanisms that lead to cell death with remarkable similarities with other organs. Among the 13 subroutines of regulated cell death that can be found in the human body, at least five of these mechanisms are implicated in vision loss in retinal pathologies.

My laboratory initiated studies on the mechanisms of cell death in the retina in 2009, having identified at least two pathways in light-induced photoreceptor damage and metabolic changes that precede apoptosis in the ischaemia/reperfusion retina, as well as specific cell death modalities in genetic models of photoreceptor degeneration. Of particular interest in our research is that most of the cellular processes involved in ocular pathologies suggest that inflammation, mediated by macrophages in the choroid and microglia in the retina, triggers unique cell death modalities in the eye. This inflammatory-mediated process of cell death is particularly intriguing in the context of diabetic retinopathy (DR), a disease which was originally thought of as a purely vascular disease but is increasingly considered to be a chronic inflammatory disease with inflammation leading to changes in the retinal microvasculature.

Similarly, the aetiology of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) remains elusive despite the characterization of many factors in the early stages of the disease contributing to the disease late-stage phenotypes. While it is clear that these processes ultimately result in degeneration of retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptor, the prevalent type of cell death contributing to the various phenotypes is unknown.

In this seminar I will attempt to reconcile factors identified in human donor tissues and to integrate these data with pathology modelled in cell cultures and animal models. These studies have led to collaborative research to trial intervention strategies that are now in clinical trial stages.

Presented 15th February 2018.

A Computational Approach (Pattern Recognition) in Disease Diagnosis/Management - Professor Michael Kalloniatis Director, Centre for Eye Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Pattern recognition has been useful to analyse satellite images and also applied in medical diagnosis. We have applied this methodology to determine ganglion cell iso-density contours (structure) and contrast sensitivity iso-contours (function) derived from OCT and visual field data. By combining these contours we are beginning to obtain useful insights on structure-function correlations, hemifield testing in glaucoma and identifying clinical signs in intermediate AMID, including automated progression and regression analysis.

Presented 9th February 2018.