This opportunity is now closed.

Funded PhD Opportunity

The Growing Problem of Myopia: are spectacles part of the problem?

Subject: Biomedical Sciences


Summary

Myopia (short-sight) is increasing in prevalence and the World Health Organisation has identified this as a major public health problem; not just because of the increased need for optical correction amongst myopes, but because of the risk of sight-threatening pathology associated with the condition. Myopia usually occurs when eyes grow too large due to a failure of the normal regulatory mechanisms which are influenced by environmental factors, including light exposure and visual feedback.

Modern children’s lifestyles (less time in outdoor play, more time spent on electronic devices) appear to be disrupting the control of eye growth and promoting myopia to manifest more often and at younger ages than in previous generations. The earlier in childhood that myopia starts, the greater the scope for excessive eye growth and the higher the risk of sight-threatening pathology. In response to this problem, new pharmacological and optical interventions have been developed; however, they are costly and not widely available. The strategy successfully used to reduce myopic progression by optical interventions is to shift the peripheral retinal image shell, which is often relatively hyperopic (even in a myopic eye), to a myopic position. The rationale behind this strategy is that counteracting hyperopic defocus will discourage eye growth, and clinical trials using orthokeratology, modified spectacle lenses and multi-focal contact lenses have demonstrated efficacy. However, standard spectacle correction of myopia exaggerates peripheral hyperopic defocus, theoretically promoting myopic eye growth.

Parents and clinicians often question the need for spectacle correction for low levels of myopia, and there is limited evidence-base to advise the best course of action to ensure vision quality is adequate and myopic eye growth is discouraged. The concept of ‘holding off’ from prescribing optical correction for low levels of incipient myopia has been a topic of discussion for many decades and, as noted above, there is a rationale for why such a protocol should be beneficial.

This project will use the extensive datasets available from previous and ongoing studies of refractive error in school age children (NICER and NICER2:0) to explore this low risk, low cost and attractive management option with modern measurement protocols and with the additional information recently gained from local studies on children’s typical eye growth patterns and light exposure and circadian profiles.

Other Specific Requirements

Applicants must hold an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree in Optometry and be, or expect to be by 1st October 2020, a GOC-registered optometrist.


AccessNI clearance required

Please note, the successful candidate will be required to obtain AccessNI clearance prior to registration due to the nature of the project.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Publications record appropriate to career stage
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Use of personal initiative as evidenced by record of work above that normally expected at career stage.
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

Profile picture of Kieran O'Donnell

My experience has been great and the people that I have worked with have been amazing

Kieran O'Donnell - 3D printing of biological cells for tissue engineering applications

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Profile picture of Michelle Clements Clements

Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Profile picture of William Crowe

Throughout my PhD I’ve been provided with continuous support and guidance by my supervisors and the staff at the University.I’ve also received many opportunities to further enhance my professional development in the form of teaching experience and presenting my work at conferences which will aid in my pursuit of a career in academia or industry.

William Crowe


Key dates

Submission deadline
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
9 to 20 March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Coleraine campus

Coleraine campus
The feeling of community at our Coleraine campus makes for a warm and welcoming student experience.


Contact supervisor

Professor Kathryn Saunders


Other supervisors

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