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 including:
- molecular biology
- cell physiology
- experimental psychology
- electrical engineering
- information technology.
We have a proud history of fundamental discovery in vision research at the University, and patients have benefited from our pioneering work in the diagnosis and treatment of visual dysfunction.
Areas of research activity
Artificial vision and image analysis
We exploit the capacity of astonishing recent rates of development in computing power and imaging capabilities to yield exciting new prospects and expose new frontiers of discovery.
Circadian and inner retinal photoreception
We study the processes by which changes in light exposure are translated into circadian and diurnal rhythms in physiology and behaviour, and the melanopsin photoreceptors that are so important for this system.
Physiological optics and the ocular surface
We aim to understand the physiological processes involved in human vision and the normal functioning of the anterior eye in order to address a range of key research issues ranging from preventing and managing ocular disease to the design and evaluation of medical devices in the eye.
We pioneer new biological approaches to treat retinal degenerative conditions, including age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, which are the most common cause of blindness in the UK.
See a selection of current research projects, which aim to make a positive impact on health and disease in the eye.
A Wellcome Trust investigator award, awarded to Professor Robert Lucas, is exploring how melanopsin photoreceptors can contribute to vision. His work has implications not only for our understanding of how we see, but also addresses the design of image capture and visual display technologies.
A concerted initiative by our researchers is driving forward our understanding of the molecular basis of AMD and how best to treat this condition, which represents the most common 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.
Dr Simon Clark
Simon Clark is an MRC Career Development Fellow investigating the role of the complement system in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration.
Dr Hema Radhakrishnan
Hema Radhakrishnan is a Senior Lecturer in Optometry. She was awarded the Neil Charman medal, the College of Optometrist’s most prestigious award for research, for her pioneering work on ocular accommodation and collagen cross linking.
Dr Timothy Brown
Tim Brown is a BBSRC David Philips Fellow who studies how the retina and the brain’s internal circadian clock come together to control our most fundamental physiological processes.
Dr Riccardo Storchi
Riccarro Storchi is a David Sainsbury NC3Rs fellow developing automated analyses of mouse spontaneous behaviour as an entirely non-invasive way of measuring their visual abilities.
Our discoveries about how the eye works are contributing to the development of new technologies and treatments.
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 developing visual display technology (watch a short video) and working with lighting manufacturers and policymakers to produce international standards for light measurement, which can be used to improve lighting for human health and wellbeing in domestic, public and industrial settings.
Dr Simon Clark and colleagues study immune regulation in the human eye and how an underlying genetic predisposition leads to a common cause of blindness called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Despite its prevalence in the older population, no treatments currently exist for the most common form of AMD.
By using unique human tissue resources available from the Manchester Eye Tissue Repository the team has made discoveries around how the complement system, part of a hosts innate immune system, drives the underlying pathogenesis of AMD.
Using this insight, they have designed complement-mediating therapeutics to treat AMD that are designed specifically for the delivery and efficacy in the human eye. Work funded by the Medical Research Council is currently underway around the preclinical work-up prior to the first phase of clinical trials.
Training and education
We are strongly committed to the training and education of our future scientists.
Many of our principal investigators are members of flagship PhD programmes within the Faculty:
- Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership
- BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (including CASE Studentships)