Become a Subject

Request for Research Subjects

Researchers at Smith-Kettlewell often conduct studies where they invite individuals to participate as research subjects. We are looking for both diagnosed individuals as well as control subjects of all ages.

Research topics include:

  • Accessible Technologies for the Blind
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) 
  • Juvenile Macular Degeneration (JMD or Stargardt's Disease)
  • Amblyopia (“Lazy Eye”)
  • Strabismus (misaligned or crossed eyes)
  • Anisometropia (unequal refractive power)
  • Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI)
  • Blindness
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (concussion or whiplash)
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Hearing Loss
  • Visual Development in Infants
  • Visual Comparison of Twins
  • Type 2 Diabetes

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and would like to learn more about a project or find out if you are eligible to participate, please call 415-345-2062 or follow the link below to contact that research group.

Currently, the following studies are seeking participants:


Reading, Vision Function and Disease Progression in Early to Intermediate AMD 


This study focuses on people (age 55+) who have been diagnosed with early to intermediate "dry" age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in one or both eyes, who can still read small print (with glasses if necessary) under good lighting conditions. 

The main goal of this study is to determine whether reading performance and other non-standard vision function measures can be used to predict which participants will go on to develop advanced AMD.

If you are older than 55 years with either healthy vision or early/intermediate AMD, you may be eligible to participate in this study. Subjects are compensated $20/hour, travel reimbursements are available. 


Dr. Susan Hewlett
(415) 345-2136

Dr. Lori Lott
(415) 345-2121

Spatial Vision in Amblyopia


The purpose of this research study is to learn more about how amblyopia (sometimes called "lazy eye"), stabismus (misaligned eyes), and anisometropia (unequal refractive power) affect the visual system and to evaluate the visual deficits in both amblyopic eye and non-amblyopic eye. If you are an adult with a history of amblyopia or strabismus, you may qualify. In addition, some adults with normal vision are needed as control subjects.


Margaret McGovern 

Chuan Hou

Computer Vision-based Smartphone Apps and Other Assistive Technology


This research focuses on the use of computer vision and other sensor-based methods of extracting visual and other information from indoor or outdoor scenes, or from existing images, and of conveying this information using audio, visual and/or tactile output to be useful to blind and low vision individuals. Examples of current studies include the development of smartphone apps to help persons who are visually impaired access appliance displays (such as thermostats or microwave ovens) and receive navigation guidance at traffic intersections.

If you are 14 years or older and are blind or visually impaired, you may be eligible to participate in this study. (If you are between 14-17 years of age, you will need permission from your parent or guardian to participate in the study.) Volunteers are compensated $30/hour in addition to travel costs.


James Coughlan

Touch Research

This research investigates how people use their hands and fingers to gather information about objects and space.

We are looking for adult participants who:
1. who have normal vision (i.e., do not have a visual impairment)
2. have a visual impairment that requires them to use braille and tactile graphics to access typically printed materials
3. have a low vision, who use video enlargement or large print to access typically printed materials, and do not have loss of sensitivity in their hands and fingers and do not have loss of sensitivity in their hands and fingers.

The participant will be asked to complete a 1-4 hour session of testing with objects or tactile displays. Participants may be requested to complete more than one session. Participants will be compensated $20 per hour of participation.


Val Morash

Advanced Spatiomotor Rehabilitation & Brain Mechanisms in Blindness & Visual Impairment


This study investigates novel rehabilitation methods and their effect on brain plasticity, spatiomotor and spatial memory abilities in individuals who are blind or have low vision. It involves a unique (entirely non-visual) training method for drawing (2 hours/day for 5 days), pre- and post-training tactile/haptic testing, as well as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). It is a lot of fun!

Subjects are compensated up to $30/hour and will be reimbursed for transportation and parking.


Dr. Lora Likova
(415) 345-2066                                                                                                                     

Dr. Laura Cacciamani
(415) 345-2129

Concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury and Light Sensitivity


This study investigates the effects of concussion or blows to the head on light sensitivity/photophobia. If eligible to participate, you will view colored visual displays while brain responses are measured non-invasively using electroencephalography (EEG) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

If you have had a recent concussion or loss of consciousness due to a head injury, particularly if you still have light sensitivity as a result, you may be eligible to participate in this study. Subjects are compensated up to $30/hour and will be reimbursed for transportation and parking.


Dr. Lora Likova
(415) 345-2066

Kristyo Mineff
(415) 345-2105


If you have questions regarding a research study, the researcher or his/her assistant will be glad to answer them.

You may seek information from the Institutional Review Board--established for the protection of volunteers in research projects--by emailing the Smith-Kettlewell Institutional Review Board.