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OD-MS Student Researcher’s Master Thesis To Be Published in Vision Research

Fourth year student Laura Goldberg, Class of 2016, recently received the news that her master’s thesis detailing her work in Dr. Frances Rucker’s lab has been accepted for publication. The article about myopia progression by Ms. Goldberg and Dr. Rucker will be published in Vision Research. The study examines the effects of anti-muscarinic drug atropine and the non-selective β-adrenergic receptor blocker timolol on the emmetropization (focusing) responses. Ms. Goldberg explains, “Our results demonstrate that color and luminance changes in visual stimulation influence the activity of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and affect emmetropization.”

Ms. Goldberg is currently completing her final external rotation before graduating with dual OD and MS degrees in May.  The dual degree program provides students the opportunity to receive a Master of Science in Vision Science (MS) simultaneously with their OD studies.  Students participate in graduate-level courses and seminars, conduct an original research project, and complete and defend a thesis.

The results of Ms. Goldberg’s work in Dr. Rucker’s lab became the basis for her master’s thesis. She notes that the submission process to the academic journal involved a series of revisions to her master’s thesis by reviewers, Dr. Rucker, and herself over the past seven months.  She hopes to share her findings with others in the hope that “our work may ultimately lead to a more effective treatment of myopia progression.”  

Being able to participate in research during the four year OD program was one reason Ms. Goldberg chose to attend NECO. “Working on the cutting edge of vision science truly is a privilege. Every day novel, remarkable discoveries are being announced ranging from heretofore unknown layers in the eye to ‘bionic retinas’ and ’smart contact lenses.’  With supplementary master’s courses including statistics and weekly journal club, I was able to learn how to critically analyze scientific data and to communicate its significance to both a scientific and general audience.” 

Passionate about vision research, Ms. Goldberg believes that learning how to better understand the vision process and the development of new medications and mechanical vision aids helps optometrists provide progressively better vision care to their patients.  Through her studies at the College, clinical work in the New England Eye network, and her research with Dr. Rucker, she has learned how research, teaching, and patient care complement one another.

In addition to what she learned through her research, she notes, “Being a part of the MS program gave me the opportunity to travel to national optometry conferences including annual meetings of the American Academy of Optometry and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.  There I was able to showcase my results, meet other students from around the world, and listen to seminars from renowned experts in the vision research world.” She believes the experience of having created this scientific work will serve her well going forward.  Already, it has provided essential tools for preparing grand round presentations, where students present interesting cases seen in clinic and related studies. Ms. Goldberg hopes to continue to participate in research efforts well past graduation.