Dr Peter Qiu has returned home to New Zealand and brought with him skills in cutting-edge technology to replicate the ageing lens in the Molecular Vision Laboratory at The University of Auckland.
"The spin test system, like the name says, spins the lens to induce deformation and spins the lens to induce deformation, which then allows the stiffness of the lens to be measured. This stiffness is why the majority of the human population needs reading glasses as they age. Together with image processing and computer modelling, we can then extract differences in lens stiffness that occur with age."
However, how this increase in lens stiffness occurs is still currently unknown.
"We think lens stiffness is due to a loss in the ability of the lens to regulate its internal water content. We'll now be able to test that, and, if we're correct, it may prove possible to use drugs to improve lens water transport and reduce lens stiffness and ultimately reduce the need for reading glasses.
"As part of this world-leading group in vision science, the Molecular Vision Lab, I'm in an ideal position to develop targeted pharmacological treatments to restore lens health by using our growing understanding of the molecular and physiological causes of presbyopia."
Dr Qiu has been awarded the Auckland Medical Research Foundation's Sir Harcourt Caughey award of almost $25,000 to help him undertake this work in Auckland.
He says, "I am honoured to be a recipient of the Sir Harcourt Caughey grant and I would like to express my gratitude to the AMRF and its generous donors for this support. This award means that I can immediately integrate my research into the New Zealand research landscape and provided the opportunity to develop my independent research career as a bioengineer in New Zealand."