University-Industry partnership to focus on Dry Eye Syndrome

UNSW Sydney is collaborating with the non-profit Brian Holden Vision Institute and medical device company TeleMedC in a new $445,000 research project to develop a state-of-the-art computational model of tear film dynamics of a blinking eye.

Each time you blink, your eyes replenish the tear film, a thin fluid interface between the surface of the eye and the environment. Although it is less than a tenth the thickness of a human hair, the tear film plays an important role in cleaning and protecting the delicate ocular surface while maintaining clear vision. Chronic breakdown of the tear film is associated with Dry Eye Syndrome, a debilitating disease that affects millions of Australians and up to half those aged over 50.

Anatomy of the tear film. Credit: James J. Feng, UBC.


A critical knowledge gap is the clinical and environmental factors affecting tear film break up in both healthy subjects and dry-eye patients. The project will address this knowledge gap by developing a state-of-the-art computational model of tear film, validated against in vitro and in vivo data, suitable for clinical studies by researchers in both academia and industry.

The new research partnership involves Dr Shane Keating at UNSW’s School of Mathematics & Statistics and Dr Nicole Carnt at UNSW’s School of Optometry & Vision Science, and Prof Arthur Ho at the Brian Holden Vision Institute. The project will be carried out in collaboration with TeleMedC, LCC, a pioneering medical device company that is developing the next generation of ophthalmic diagnostic imaging systems for face-to-face and virtual medical consultations, screening, monitoring and health prevention purposes for remote and urban communities.

UNSW Sydney has awarded a prestigious Scientia PhD scholarship to PhD student Yu Wang to work with Shane, Nicole, and Arthur on developing the computational model of the tear film. The Scientia scholarship scheme aims to harness cutting-edge research to solve complex problems and improve the lives of people in local and global communities. Scientia scholars receive a $200,000 scholarship package in the form of a stipend, travel, and development support over four years. International scholars also receive a tuition fee scholarship worth $200,000. In addition, UNSW Sydney and TeleMedC, LLC have provided $45,000 in support for the project through the Industry Network Seed Fund program.