Brien Holden Vision Research Institute PhD students, Nicole Carnt and Maria Markoulli, have been awarded Ezell Fellowships by the American Optometric Foundation (AOF) thanks to their focus on trying to minimise the possibility of infection that can occur to the 125 million contact lens wearers worldwide.
The awards, which support excellence in postgraduate research in the areas of physiological optics, vision science and related fields, are the flagship program of the AOF and were established in 1947 in honour of its founding President, William C Ezell OD.
Nicole’s research looks the intrinsic risks of developing a contact lens related eye infection: risk taking behaviour and genetics. She hopes to identify wearers with higher risks and find ways to decrease the overall burden of disease.
Nicole has also been awarded the Dallos Research Award by the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) and is the recipient of the Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia (CCLSA) research award.
Maria Markoulli is working on identifying the underlying causes of corneal erosions in contact lens wear. Understanding the factors which predispose the cornea to erosion may enable contact lens practitioners to substantially reduce the risk of infection in contact lens wear.
Maria is a second time recipient of the Ezell Fellowship and her commitment to excellence in her studies has also seen her awarded the CCLSA research grant and the Maki Shiobara Scholarship.