headshot of Christine Wildsoet smiling

Research Expertise and Interest

optometry, vision science, myopia, refractive errors, accommodation, aberrations, eye growth, ocular therapeutics, optical myopia control, pharmacological myopia control, ocular tissue engineering, ocular stem cells, basic and clinical research with social implications

Research Description

Christine Wildsoet is a professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science. The research of the Wildsoet Lab is focused on eye growth regulation, with emphasis on myopia (short-sightedness), which has reached epidemic levels in many parts of the world, and is predicted to affect about 50% of the world’s population by 2050. On-going research has a strong translational emphasis, making use of animal models of the same, to understand underlying mechanisms, with human subjects also targeted and the ultimate beneficiaries.

The eyes, like other organs of the body, are under-sized at birth and grow during early developmental years, at which time the ocular state of focus is also adjusted to eliminate neonatal refractive errors. Myopia typically emerges during child hood, as a byproduct of excessive eye elongation. Their research makes use of two animal models (chicks and guinea pigs), complemented by high resolution ocular biometry and imaging, along with molecular biology assays to investigate the local (ocular) signal pathways mediating “myopic” eye growth, with a view to developing novel interventions that prevent or slow the progression of myopia, which can lead to blinding complications, when left unchecked. Additional studies involving human subjects seek to to understand the behavioral under-pinnings of the myopia epidemic. On-going research fall within one of three key directions:

  • Understanding eye growth regulation and myopia, including the ocular signal pathways linking the retina (seeing layer) with the outer components of the eye wall, i.e., choroid and sclera, that together determine eye size and undergo structural changes in myopia, the key role of the retinal pigment epithelium as the connecting cellular relay, and the role of intraocular pressure (IOP) as a modifiable, inflationary force.
  • Understanding mechanisms underlying currently used clinical myopia control strategies, including optical and pharmacological interventions, with a view to improving efficacy, as well as developing novel approaches, including gene therapy- and tissue engineering-based ones, and off-label application of therapies for glaucoma.
  • Understanding the current myopia epidemic and specifically the visual environmental and behavioral factors underlying the development and progression of myopia, including the role of electronic devices, as targets for novel anti-myopia interventions.
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