At the start of 2023 we welcomed a super-energetic group of Year 3 UNSW Vision Science and Optometry students: Carmen (Ying Lam) Chan, Claudia Tiong, Kelvin Huang, Jennifer Du, Merna Matti, Rita Bayadh, Brendon Yue, and Peter Tweedie, to our Summer Vision Science Research at the Save Sight Institute Laboratories (Sydney Hospital/Sydney Eye Hospital).

The activity ran with guidance from A/Professor Michele Madigan (UNSW School of Optometry & Vision Science) and excellent support from Stanley Wu (Scientia PhD Student, UNSW). This annual research experience aims to provide unique hands-on activities for vision science students across human eye anatomy, cell biology and pathology.

The students explored human eye anatomy with dissection, grew eye cells in tissue culture, prepared buffers, plus discovered lots of eye-facts and ‘eyelights’. They prepared paraffin sections of eye tissues and completed histological staining of sections, plus immunolabelling of eye cells to identify proteins. We also used state-of-art confocal and axioimager microscopes to look at our efforts. After tissue culturing cells, students prepared protein lysates, made gels and completed immunoblots with great outcomes. In between, we enjoyed lots of discussion about eye anatomy, eye diseases, and clinical and vision science research questions plus plenty of drawing.

The students also visited the SSI Laboratory at the Biomedical Building (Redfern) and enjoyed a full day with retinal researchers, Drs Ling Zhu and Dr Ting Zheng and the team, learning about nanoparticles and retinal drug delivery. A visit to the Lions NSW Eye Bank and Tissue Banks (Sydney Hospital/Sydney Eye Hospital) provided our students with a better understanding of organ donation and how donor corneas are prepared for transplantation.

Feedback included: “Thank you for showing us the eye lab and letting us see what research is really like”, “ extremely valuable experience to see things we wouldn’t normally see at uni .. from using the fancy microscopes to liquid nitrogen..”, “.. the experience was incredibly valuable … “, “ especially valuable hands-on lifetime experience .. in-depth sharings have guided and inspired me a lot”.