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Hilary Hamer, Class of 2017, Receives Research Grant from Beta Sigma Kappa

Hilary Hamer poses for a picture as she sits at her computer in research lab.

Student Researcher will investigate “A Visual Memory Mechanism for Binocular Summation in Alternating Stroboscopic Vision Therapy” with Dr. Panorgias

Hilary Hamer, a third year student at New England College of Optometry, has been awarded a 2015 Research Grant from Beta Sigma Kappa to support a new research project she created under the faculty guidance of Dr. Thanasis Panorgias. Her project is entitled ‘A Visual Memory Mechanism for Binocular Summation in Alternating Stroboscopic Vision Therapy.’”

Each year, the International Optometric Honor Society, Beta Sigma Kappa, provides optometry students funding to support their vision-related research at accredited schools and colleges of optometry. Applications consist of a 4-page grant proposal for a project outlining the research problem, project goal, experimental design, plans for completion and estimated costs. The research projects directly support BSK’s mission “to stimulate scientific attainment, academic excellence and the ethical practice of optometry and to promote and provide financial support for worthy research projects relating to vision care and the eyes.”

Ms. Hamer was inspired to create her research project by NECO faculty Dr. Fuensanta Vera-Diaz and Dr. Bruce Moore. “At the AAO meeting last year in Denver, Dr. Vera-Diaz and Dr. Moore presented their findings from a preliminary study with flicker glasses used to treat amblyopia. I was impressed with the clinical promise of the device, and I wanted to study it from a different perspective. I was already working with Dr. Panorgias and electrophysiology. It seemed a perfect match to use electrophysiology to investigate the neural mechanisms of flicker therapy.”

Ms. Hamer’s research with Dr. Panorgias will investigate how the stimulation from the flicker glasses affects the occipital lobe. She will investigate “the neural mechanisms behind the clinical technique with the flicker glasses. Flicker therapy for amblyopia has never been explored using electrophysiology before. Our hope is that our research may help clinicians better understand and optimize the use of flicker therapy with patients.” Her research and findings will support her Masters of Science in Vision Science as part of her dual OD/MS degree.

Hilary is very thankful to BSK for their support of student researchers. “The support from BSK means other researchers and clinicians believe it is important to understand the mechanisms of flicker therapy which may result in improved treatment of amblyopia.”