Congratulations to Senior Scientist, Preeti Verghese, Ph.D., who was awarded a four-year grant from the National Eye Institute to study ways of assisting patients with age-related macular disease (AMD) in the performance of real-world tasks. Dr. Verghese’s research lab examines the neural processes, strategies, and adaptations that humans use to interact with objects in the real world and apply these to visual adaptations in clinical populations.
Dr. Verghese’s current NEI-NIH grant is entitled, “Maximizing Visual Potential in Age-Related Macular Degeneration.” AMD affects the central part of the visual field, which provides high acuity visual function and serves as the reference point for eye movements. Thus difficulties with reading and with eye movements are common complaints especially obstacles that central field loss poses to tasks of daily living. Individuals complain about difficulty shopping for groceries, finding items at home, following moving targets, performing eye-hand coordination tasks, and navigating. Dr. Verghese’s goal is to develop methods to help patients with central vision loss learn to use their remaining vision more effectively, including making better use of binocular vision. She will examine difficulties that individuals with AMD confront while performing everyday tasks. Patients have difficulty directing their gaze to objects of interest and tracking moving objects, particularly those moving toward them, such as cars and bicyclists. And she will evaluate the potential to improve eye-hand coordination in near space.