While I have been conducting research in glaucoma for the past 14 years, my career as a vision scientist actually began by studying the front of the eye. I completed my graduate work in optics at the University of Rochester's Institute of Optics under the advisement of Dr. David Williams. My graduate research focused on better understanding the optical quality of normal eyes and the changes in vision and optical quality that occurred in the eye following conventional and customized LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) procedures. As a graduate student, I also had the opportunity to work on other lab-related projects, such as contributing to the design of an adaptive optics ophthalmoscope, an instrument that is capable of imaging individual cells in living human eyes. It was during this time that I developed my interests in high-resolution imaging of the eye. As a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Williams, I began to study glaucoma and gained further experience in optical instrumentation and the design and use of adaptive optics ophthalmoscopes for high-resolution imaging in living eyes. I was fortunate to lead and contribute to projects that visualized ganglion cells, dendrites and axons in living animal eyes. Now, as an associate professor, my laboratory seeks to improve our ability to detect, track and examine the development and progression of glaucoma using highly sensitive optical imaging tools in animal models and human patients. Through our previous NIH grant, I collaborated with Dr. Laura Frishman (an expert in retinal function), Drs. Ronald Harweth and Nimesh Patel (experts in structure/function relationships in glaucoma), and Dr. Danica Marelli (an optometric glaucoma specialist) to better understand the relationship between changes in lamina cribrosa and optic nerve head structure, axonal damage and vision loss in normal, older human eyes and in animal and human eyes with glaucoma. I am excited to continue my collaboration with Dr. Patel in this study to determine whether we can detect damage to the eye in glaucoma in its earliest stages.
University of Houston