School of Medicine

Translational Vision Research in the Department of Ophthalmology

Research areas

Department of Ophthalmology - research montage


Research in the Department of Ophthalmology is based on the diverse interests and expertise of the research staff:


Focused on corneal dystrophies. New Zealand's unique population mix has large autosomal dominant families providing the Genetic Eye Disease Investigation Unit (GEDI) a unique opportunity to identify disease-causing genes.

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Tissue repair

The Green Team's research on direct cell-cell communication has led to a re-evaluation of tissue repair processes, providing the opportunity to improve the outcomes of surgical intervention or trauma, and laser corrective surgery. Current research projects include glaucoma flap surgery (with the aim of preventing reclosure) and optic nerve neuropathies.

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Corneal dystrophies

The University of Auckland's Department of Ophthalmology has established a world leading research programme on corneal dystrophy. Improved understanding of this common, debilitating, eye disease will lead to development of therapies to reduce visual impairment and the need for corneal transplantation.

Anterior corneal surface

Understanding the relationship between the corneal surface and the tear film to elucidate the causes of tear film break-up and the resulting dry eye conditions as well as aiding in the development of artificial tear substitutes and contact lenses.

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Cell and organ culture for tissue engineering and disease modelling

Access to clinical tissue (both normal, through the New Zealand National Eye Bank and donor tissues, and diseased tissue, sampled with donor consent) provides a the CORnEa Laboratory with significant research potential for understanding disease processes and developing novel treatment strategies. This initiative strives to increase our understanding of the fundamental processes essential for generating viable corneal tissues in the laboratory, to enable repair or as a replacement for donor tissues.

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Lens proteomics

Aims to elucidate the changes in protein composition and interaction during the formation of different types of human cataract and thereby provide targets for the development of novel therapeutics.

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Currently, successful grants are being used to focus on the following specific research areas:

cmcghee Professor Charles McGhee
  • Anterior segment imaging in health and disease.
  • Photoreceptor degeneration seconday to surgical and ambient light exposure in the rat eye.
  • Quantifying the characteristics of pterygium that contribute to induced astigmatism and visual impairment.
green Professor Colin Green
  • Novel rodent optic neuropathy.
  • Targeting inflammation in age related macular degeneration.
  • The pathophysiology of hydrops corneae in keratoconus.
  • Gap junction communication in retinal ganglion cell death after optic nerve injury.
  • The role of gap junction channels in inflammation and cell deth following optic nerve injury.
  • Go ischemia optic neuropathy in the rat model.
  • Connexin 43 antisense in the treatment of anti-ischaemic optic neuropathy in a rat model.
  • Evaluation of Connexin 43 antisense oligodoxynucleotide as a novel wound modulation agent in Glaucoma.
sherwin Associate Professor Trevor Sherwin
  • Understanding angiogenesis in the cornea.
  • Corneal epithelial maintenance and homeostasis.
  • DIGE in vision research.
  • Autologous stem cell implants for neuronal repair.
  • Rebuilding the cornea by cell transplantation.
vincent Dr Andrea Vincent
  • The genetic basis of Fleck Corneal Dystrophy in a large family.
  • Gene testing of candidate genes and linkage analysis in inherited corneal dystrophies.
  • Molecular characterisation of a large Maori pedigree affected with autosomal dominant keratoconus.
  • Linkage analysis, mutational analysis and characteristaion of genes causing corneal dystrophies.
  • Genetics of BPES.
  • The genetic basis of keratoconus.

ormonde Dr Sue Ormonde
  • Topical Nexagon in the treatment of acute corneal injuries.