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 



2017 NZ-NEC Seminar Series



The 2017 NZ-NEC Seminar Series is kindly sponsored by Alcon.


The Lens - An Enigma, A Paradox, A Crystal Ball... Professor Barbara Pierscionek Associate Dean, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing, Kingston University, London.

The two conditions that affect the function of the eye lens are the physiological process of presbyopia and the pathological condition of cataract. Age is a major risk factor for both. As populations are ageing, the importance of understanding structural changes that lead to functional loss in the lens is ever more imperative. This lecture will outline the latest findings on the optical properties of the lens, in particular the refractive index variations and what this tells us about the lens paradox and foreseeing changes that may occur with lens growth and ageing. Structural links between proteins and optics and the enigmatic findings that a lens containing proteins of complicated structures can appear to behave like a crystal under certain conditions, will be discussed. The link between optical and mechanical properties will also be presented with viable models of the lens and accommodative system described. The findings have implications for which theory of accommodation has most relevance.

Friday 10th February 2017, 12.00 - 1.00pm.

Lecture Theatre 503-024, FMHS, Grafton.


Summer Students Symposium

19 students from Ophthalmology, Optometry, and Pharmacy will be presenting their summer project work. The format will be rapid fire with 4 minutes of presentation time and 2 minutes for questions, with prizes for the best presentations (1st, 2nd, and 3rd ).

Distinguished Professor Ian Reid, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences and Professor Alan Merry, Head of School of Medicine have kindly agreed to judge the symposium.

Monday 21st February 2017, 5.00 - 7.00pm.

Lecture Theatre 505-011, FMHS, Grafton.


Excellence in Ophthalmology and Vision Research Evening

This event consolidates the undergraduate, postgraduate and summer studentship awards into one prize giving event. 

The following awards will be presented on the evening:

  • The  Calvin Ring Prize for the best all-round undergraduate medical student in clinical ophthalmology - Dr Charlotte Jordan
  • The William MacKenzie Medal for early excellence in eye research. This award  recognises the significant contribution made by a medical student or trainee intern towards a research project which has reached publication status during the year of the award - Jeremy John Mathan
  • The Arthur Thomas Paterson Scholarship  to a vocational trainee in Ophthalmology who holds an accredited position within the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists for the purpose of assisting in overseas postgraduate training - Dr Divya Perumal
  • Summer studentship awards: Ji Soo Kim, Sunny Li, Micah Rapata, Lize Angelo, Jovey Lim, William Cook, Darina Khun, Kenny Wu, Ye Li, Charisse Kuo, Michael Wang.

Monday 13th February 2017, 5.30 - 7.20pm.

Lecture Theatre 505-011, FMHS, Grafton.


New Biological Roles for The Lens: A Healthy Lens, A Healthy Eye? Dr Julie Lim, Department of Physiology, FMHS.

Outside the traditional roles of the lens as an important refractive element and a UV filter it was demonstrated by David Beebe's group that the lens acts an oxygen sink that protects the tissues of the anterior segment of the eye from oxygen or oxygen metabolites. In this talk we follow on from this work and present evidence from our laboratory to demonstrate two additional new roles of the lens in the release of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH) into the aqueous humor to provide a source of GSH to nearby tissues, and in the control of aqueous humor cysteine/cysteine balance to maintain a reduced ocular environment. These new secondary roles indicate that that the lens is highly dynamic and active tissue that can potentially interact and alter the functionality of neighbouring tissues, through modifying the environments in which these tissues function.

Monday 20th March 2017, 4.00 - 5.00pm.

Conference Room, Domain Lodge, 1 Boyle Crescent.


Preoperative Risk Stratification - Can We Prevent Complications in Cataract Surgery? Dr Bia Kim, Research Fellow, Department of Ophthalmology.

Cataract surgery is the most common elective surgical procedure with more than 30,000 cases performed in New Zealand. It is highly successful in restoring vision for the majority of patients but complications may occur during surgery, occasionally severe enough to cause blindness. There are already numerous patient and eye factors that have been associated with an increased risk of intraoperative complications in cataract surgery. Based on these preoperative factors, a risk stratification system was devised to score individual patients' risks. This talk will focus on the outcomes following implementation of a risk stratification system to appropriately allocate cataract cases to different levels of surgeons thereby potentially reducing complication rates and improving visual outcomes.

Optotype Design. Lisa Hamm, Research Fellow School of Optometry and Vision Science.

The ETDRS set of 10 Sloan letters is the most widely used optotype set for testing recognition acuity in research settings. For younger children, or those not familiar with the Roman alphabet, this set may not be practical. Other sets exist which are more appropriate for these observers, but they have some disadvantages. Most contain a smaller number of optotypes, have uneven stroke width and/or aspect ratios other than 1.1 Additionally, the individual items within many of these sets (including the ETDRS Sloan letter set) elicit different acuity thresholds from one another. We designed a set of 10 nameable optotypes with even stroke width, 1:1 aspect ratios, and we tested whether each optotype within the set elicited a similar acuity threshold. This talk will cover some design considerations as well as the inter-optotype variability results.

Wednesday 19th April 2017, 4.00 - 5.00pm.

Conference Room, Domain Lodge, 1 Boyle Crescent.


Contact Lenses, Dry Eye Disease, and Diabetes and the Ocular Surface. Dr Maria Markoulli, Senior Lecturer, School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

The purpose of this presentation is to introduce Dr Markoulli's three key areas of research: contact lenses, dry eye disease and diabetes and the ocular surface.

1.      Contact lenses: Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs) are collagen degrading enzymes which maintain and remodel tissue architecture by degrading the major components of the epithelial basement membrane. In excess, MMPs have been associated with recurrent corneal erosions and ulceration. As these conditions also occur in contact lens wear, this study also set out to determine how CL wear and adaptation affects the levels of MMP-9 in the tear film.

2.      Dry eye: Reliability in detecting the signs of dry eye disease is an important part of staging the severity of the disease and hence initiating appropriate treatment. Fluorescein tear break-up time is commonly used but has poor repeatability and is very subjective. In recent times two instruments have been introduced as objective means to measure NIBUT and lipid layer thickness: The Oculus® Keratograph 5M and the LipiView®, respectively. The purpose of this study is to determine the repeatability of the Oculus® Keratograph 5M and the Lipiview® in measuring the properties of the tear film in healthy people compared to the Tearscope Plus.

Diabetes: Both the cornea and the tear film are known to be affected in diabetes. Substance P is a neuropeptide present in the tear film which is released from trigeminal sensory nerve endings in the cornea, conjunctiva and lacrimal gland into the tear fihn. Substance P has a role in wound healing, but also maintains corneal integrity as it promotes migration, proliferation and differentiation of epithelial cells. In the trigeminal nerve, substance P has been found to be decreased in concentration in diabetes relative to healthy controls. Although altered corneal nerve structure in people with diabetes has been reported, the contribution of neuropeptides such as substance P in the tear film relative to diabetic corneal neuropathy has not been explored. This study therefore aims to investigate the impact of diabetes on the concentrations of substance P in the tear film relative to corneal sub-basal nerves.

Friday 28th April 2017, 12.00 - 1.00pm.

Lecture Theatre 503-028, FMHS, Grafton.