Technology & Vision

To get better measures of visual function, we are always keeping an eye on the latest innovations in technology. This will allow us to detect more subtle changes in vision due to disease, and offer novel treatment opions, and to more accurately measure the effectiveness of exisiting treatments. We are currently using technologies such as virtual reality, eye tracking, and electrophysiology to develop new and objective techniques and tools to improve clinical outcomes. Some of our projects involving these technologies are outlined briefly below.

We are currently supported by grants from:

  • Auckland Allied Health Alliance (AAHA): Using Eyetracking to objectively measure ocular deviations.
  • NZOVRF: Virtual Reality based Perimetry.

We have available projects at PhD level

Tracking involuntary eye movements

We currently have a number of projects using eye tracking to measure visual function. Using carefully constructed stimuli, we look for the presence of an involuntary eye movement called optokinetic nystagmus (OKN). This can be used to measure visual function, or to monitor changes in vision in conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Relevant publication: 
Dakin, S. C. and Turnbull, P. R. K. Similar contrast sensitivity functions measured using psychophysics and optokinetic nystagmus. Sci. Rep 6, 34514; doi: 10.1038/srep34514 (2016)

Investigating neural physiology

We can also use eye tracking to investigate neural physiology. By monitoring subtle changes in pupil size (hippus) before and after the installation of either stimulating, or antagonising drugs, we were able to determine the tonus of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Relevant publication: 
Philip R. K. Turnbull, Nouzar Irani, Nicky Lim, John R. Phillips; Origins of Pupillary Hippus in the Autonomic Nervous System. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci.2017;58(1):197-203. doi: 10.1167/iovs.16-20785

The safety of virtual reality

As optometrists, we see an increasing number of patients who are using virtual reality – especially children, who are using this technology at schools. Surprisingly, very little is known about the saftey of VR and the eyes. We are also investigating the usefullness of VR headsets in the detection and treatment of many different ocular conditions.

Relevant publication: 
Turnbull, Philip RK, and John R. Phillips. “Ocular effects of virtual reality headset wear in young adults.” Scientific reports7, no. 1 (2017): 16172.

Current projects

The virtual eye

The virtual eye

Currently, there is no platform which integrates results from different tests of an eye exam with one another. This often poses difficulties in diagnosis, lengthens clinical visit time, and adds to the healthcare cost. This project focuses on processing data obtained...

Our researchers

Dr Phil Turnbull

Senior Lecturer

Prof Steven Dakin