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Close up of a human eye


Vision is one of our most valued senses. Our vision researchers study it at all levels, from the molecular mechanisms of light detection to the complex brain processes that allow us to see.

We focus on revealing basic biological principles and engineering optimal systems for image analysis and artificial vision, in order to develop new ways to diagnose and treat conditions that disrupt vision.

Our breadth of expertise and close collaboration with the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital allows us to set ambitious objectives in vision research.

Our research spans a range of disciplines. These include molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, cell physiology, anatomy, neuroscience, psychophysics, optics, electrical engineering, and information technology.

We have a proud history of fundamental discovery in vision research at the University. Patients have long benefited from our pioneering work in the diagnosis and treatment of visual dysfunction.

Areas of research activity

  • Physiological optics and cornea
  • Artificial vision and image analysis
  • Visual perception and guidance of action in health and disorder
  • Retinal imaging and diagnosing visual dysfunction
  • Circadian and inner retinal photoreception
  • Multi-sensory perception in healthy ageing and disease
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Ocular angiogenesis
  • Genetic eye diseases and gene therapy for retinal degenerations
  • Eye movements
A close up of a human eye

Major projects

Restoring vision following retinal degeneration

Retinal degeneration is the commonest cause of blindness in the UK and is largely untreatable. We are developing new biological approaches to treat these conditions.

Vision beyond rods and cones

An ERC Proof of Concept award, led by Professor Robert Lucas, is exploring how visual display technology could be updated to take advantage of his recent discovery that a new photoreceptor (melanopsin) contributes to vision.

Watching mice to see what they can see

Dr Riccardo Storchi has been awarded a David Sainsbury 3Rs fellowship to develop automated analyses of mouse spontaneous behaviour as an entirely non-invasive way of determining what they can see.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

A concerted initiative by University of Manchester researchers is driving forward our understanding of the molecular basis of AMD and how best to treat this condition, which represents the commonest cause of sight loss in the developed world. This research is funded by the MRC and charities including The Macular Society and Fight for Sight.

Highlight publications

Ganglion cells in retina

Featured researchers

Rods and cones

Case studies

Redesigning artificial lights to suit our biological needs

Disruption of the body clock and sleep-wake cycle, caused by exposure to unnatural light, can have a profound influence on health and wellbeing.

Neuroscientists at the University, led by Professor Rob Lucas, discovered a previously unknown light receptor responsible for a range of important subconscious responses. Their research established ways of predicting light's effect on these receptors.

Rob is now working with lighting manufacturers to produce improved artificial lights, as well as with policymakers to produce international standards for architectural lighting, which will be applied to a wide range of domestic, public and industrial settings.

Read more

Protein discovery to improve treatment of eye disease

Professor Paul Bishop and colleagues discovered a human protein that prevents pathological blood vessel formation in the eye.

The protein, named opticin, has the potential to be developed into a drug to treat causes of blindness, including proliferative diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that affects approximately 17 million people worldwide, and a less common condition that affects premature babies.

Both are treated with laser burns to the retina, which can have major side effects including loss of peripheral vision. It is anticipated that opticin treatment will have fewer side-effects.

Supported by Medical Research Council funding, the University has helped Paul to set up a spin-out company that will hopefully see the development of opticin as a therapeutic drug for these conditions.

Visit the Opticin Therapeutics website

Blood vessels emerging from optic disc


Professor Robert Lucas
Tel: +44 (0)161 275 5251