Anterior Eye, Clinical Trials and Research Translation Unit

Research Overview

The Anterior Eye, Clinical Trials and Research Translation unit adopts an integrated approach to research in ocular disease, combining clinical, laboratory and behavioural science as a foundation for evidence-based practice to improve clinical outcomes.

Our research unit possesses advanced clinical and research expertise in the areas of anterior ocular disease (including the undertaking of Phase II to IV therapeutic and contact lens clinical trials) and research translation (including the development and testing of interventions to improve research dissemination and implementation in clinical practice, with a major focus on age-related macular degeneration).

Anterior eye research: Our anterior eye research combines sophisticated clinical techniques (including anterior segment optical coherence tomography, corneal topography, corneal confocal microscopy and tear osmolarity) with basic science investigations (immunological analyses), to characterise the ocular inflammatory response during disease and contact lens wear.

A further research focus is the investigation of novel therapeutic treatments for dry eye disease and contact lens technologies, including their application for myopia control. Our unit possesses clinical expertise in advanced contact lens fitting, including the areas of keratoconus, post-corneal grafting and orthokeratology. Some of our current research projects include examining tear immunology in ocular surface disease and contact lens wear and analysing the effects of overnight orthokeratology on corneal integrity.

Opportunities exist for motivated, intelligent and committed research higher degree students and research clinicians to join our research unit.

Clinical trials: Our unit also specialises in the undertaking of Phase II to IV clinical trials, particularly in the areas of dry eye disease and contact lenses. We possess a significant track record for successful industry collaboration in this area, having been a site for numerous multi-centre commercially-funded clinical trials.

Research translation: A further focus of our work is the translation of research into clinical practice. We have recently developed a novel optometric clinical care audit tool (CCAT) for optometrists to audit the clinical care provided to patients with diabetes mellitus against national guidelines. This resource is freely available for optometrists to download and use. Our group is currently undertaking a number of national and international projects relating to the development of clinical guidelines and systematic reviews in the areas of dry eye disease and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), including a Cochrane systematic review.


  • Ms Anne Gad
  • Ms Lucy Liu



The Downie Anterior Eye, Clinical Trials and Research Translation Unit currently receives funding from:

  • 2016-8: Macular Disease Foundation  Australia - Blackmores Research Grant, "Advancing eye care for people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) through integrating clinical research and its translation" (CIA Downie)
  • 2015-7: NHMRC Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP) Fellowship, "An integrated approach to improving the primary clinical care of patients with early stages of age-related macular degeneration" (APP1091833, CIA Downie)
  • 2015-6: CooperVision Seedling Award, "Modulation of the anterior eye inflammatory response to treat contact lens discomfort" (CIA Downie)
  • 2015-6: Alcon Pty Ltd and Allergan Pty Ltd (Phase III and IV multi-centre clinical trials)

Research undertaken in our unit has also been supported by grants from The University of Melbourne (2014-6), Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation (2015), Equity Trustees (2015), Kaye Merlin Brutton Bequest (2015) and Victorian Optometric Training and Education trust (2014-5). Medmont Pty Ltd have provided equipment support to the research unit.