Dr Marianne Coleman, an orthoptist and research fellow at the University of Surrey and winner of the 2019 Squint Forum prize, recently presented her research findings at the RSM. Her research, which looked at how the ability to judge distances (depth perception), an important factor in falls, may be affected by dementia, was jointly funded by a one-year Primer Fellowship Award from the eye research charity Fight for Sight and the Royal Society of Medicine through its Ophthalmology Section. The research also examined whether changes in pupil size during memory tasks could be a helpful indicator to monitor the progression of dementia.
Dr Coleman’s study findings indicate that with robust, dementia-friendly testing procedures, many people living with dementia can still demonstrate a fairly good ability to judge distances, although this is poorer compared to older people with normal memory test scores. Dr Coleman explained at the meeting that given the known role of poor depth perception in falls, it is important to maximise vision in both eyes as part of routine dementia care.
Dr Coleman, who will be starting a four-year clinical vision early career research fellow post at the University of Melbourne in April this year, said: “I am very fortunate indeed to have received the RSM/Fight for Sight jointly funded Primer Fellowship Award. I secured my next post on the basis of being able to demonstrate success in obtaining funding, and through mentioning my development in areas such as promoting interdisciplinary collaboration, public engagement, research impact and patient involvement, as a result of activities completed in my fellowship year at the University of Surrey.”
Michele Acton, RSM Chief Executive, said: “This innovative and exciting funding initiative is a wonderful example of collaboration between the RSM’s Ophthalmology Section and a specialist research charity. As former Chief Executive of Fight for Sight I was particularly delighted that our two organisations came together to fund such important work and enable Dr Coleman to further her career. We wish Dr Coleman every success as she moves to Australia.”
Sherine Krause, Fight for Sight Chief Executive, said: “We are so pleased to have collaborated with RSM to fund this important piece of research. We hope that Dr Coleman’s findings will ensure that those living with dementia will get the most accurate result for depth perception tests, and in turn identify those most at risk of having a fall. We wish Dr Coleman the very best of luck in her new position at the University of Melbourne.”