Measuring visual function in children using eye movements

Project Code: 10338837

Faculty: Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Department: Optometry & Vision Science

Main Supervisor: Professor Steven Dakin

Co supervisors: Dr Phil Turnbull

Application open date: 11 Nov 2015

Application deadline:

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


Reliable measures of visual function in children are essential to support the early diagnosis and treatment of eye disease as well as the development of new treatments. Clinical assessment of visual function typically requries the patient report what they see e.g. by reading a letter on a chart. Such procedures can be challenging for children which in turn limits the reliability of the results. We are developing an efficient and entirely automated system for assessing visual function in children using an involuntary eye movement known as optokinetic nystagmus (OKN),which occurs in response to visual stimulation with drifting patterns. By systematically varying various characteristics of the stimulus (it's contrast, its scale, etc) and quantifying the resultant OKN, we can build up a detailed picture of the child's vision without the need for them to make a verbal response. This has potential application in many areas.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

(Essential) Wilingness/ability to work testing children

(Essential) Experience in behavioural testing (e.g. via psychology/optometry background)

(Desirable) Knowledge of psychophysical methods

(Desirable) Programming ability (especially Matlab)

(Desirable) Previous experience working with eye tracking


The first objective is to adapt the current prototype system to maximise compliance of children with testing. The second objective it to validate the system againt existing gold standard measures of acuity and contrast sensitivity in children. The final objective is to explore new ways of using OKN to measure binocular visual function. 

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