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James P. Comerford, OD, PhD

James P. Comerford, OD, PhD

Professor Emeritus

Dr. Comerford, professor emeritus of vision science, was a faculty member at the College for 36 years. He was chair of the Department of Vision Science from 1992-2008 and was the instructor of record for the courses Theory and Method of Vision Testing and Environmental Optometry and Visual Assessment. His area of clinical expertise is color vision, and his primary areas of research interest are vision testing, environmental optometry, and color vision. Dr. Comerford retired from the College in June of 2013.

Dr. Comerford’s research focused on the development of a visual screening test for patients with Parkinson’s Disease using psychophysical testing. Psychophysical testing is effective in detecting subtle changes in the retina resulting from drops in levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, as Parkinson’s Disease affects dopamine-dependent neurons in the retina as well as those in the brain. He discovered that the Hermann Grid illusion, which he speculates to be an ideal assessment of dopamine-mediated visual function, is not seen by Parkinson’s patients. His recent work involved an investigation of the physiological mechanisms that underlie the illusion. He hopes that this research will allow for the detection of Parkinsonism in asymptomatic patients so that potential therapy could be prescribed to delay the development of the symptoms of this disease. Dr. Comerford’s research has been funded by both the Massachusetts Lions Research Funds and the Norwood Lions. He presented the findings from his studies at the Optical Society of America’s meeting on non-invasive assessment of visual function and to the Association for Research In Vision and Ophthalmology.

Dr. Comerford is a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Vision Sciences Society, the International Colour Vision Society, and the American Academy of Optometry. He has received awards of recognition from the classes of 2002, 2010, and 2011 for excellence in teaching at NECO. He also received the Foster Namias award from the class of 2010.

Dr. Comerford earned a BS from the Loyola University of Los Angeles, MS and PhD degrees from the University of California Santa Barbara, and a doctor of optometry degree from the New England College of Optometry.