Associate Professor Barbara   Junghans
Casual Academic

Associate Professor Barbara Junghans

Medicine & Health
School of Optometry

About me:

My research has spanned a rather eclectic array of disciplines and sub-disciplines.  Why?  Opportunities arose….  My PhD covered lymphangiogenesis of the cornea in response to corneal insult and was followed by a discovery of lymphatics in the chick choroid.  A portrayal of the ultrastructure of the chick choroid during the development of myopia, along with the prevalence of ionic species in and around the choroid of the myopic eye using bulk frozen x-ray micro-elemental analysis techniques devised by myself, led to an understanding of the early eye-growth situation in terms of fluid dynamics and demanded consideration of aquaporins and potassium channels in the retina.  This work is now being extended into investigations of fluid control in human myopia.

An opportunity to portray the visual status of over 2,000 children arose with the creation of the UNSW Vision Education Centre by Sheila Crewther and myself to extend paediatric experiences for our students.  Thus we were able to observe that whilst the rest of the world was experiencing an extremely rapid increase in the prevalence of myopia in school children, Sydney was not.  Furthermore, we were able to characterize the functional vision of these school children.  A consequence of us finding that 1 in 4 has a visual problem that needs monitoring led to a change in educational and screening programs across Australian schools.  This line of research continues, but is based as a collaboration with Sheila Crewther at La Trobe University.

Alongside my basic science research, my career as a teacher was flourishing: as was a desire to better understand pedagogical issues.  This led to a major study funded by the ALTC on whether the low uptake of positions in low vision practice or rural areas was due to poor educational experiences.  This resulted in the creation of an Australasian network of optometric educators willing to undertake rigorous analysis of optometric pedagogy that now has extended to other areas of optometric teaching.

Other smaller projects have covered colour vision in orienteers which has led to me being an advisor to the International Orienteering Federation on suitable colour schemes for orienteering maps.  Smaller projects demanded by final year student groups has led to investigations such as the effect of cognitive distractions upon the patency of the visual field; typographical characteristics of print across modern media such as iPads and their effects on reading and comprehension; eye-hand coordination and eye movements in amblyopes.



BOptom  (UNSW 1973)

PhD  (UNSW 1991)

Grad Dip H Ed  (UNSW 1993)


Research Goals

  • To contribute at the level of basic molecular studies to our understanding of development of refractive errors (in particular myopia)
  • To describe at the public health level through epidemiological studies the prevalence and associations of refractive errors in a society with a more relaxed life style (ie. Australia)
  • To describe the prevalence of dysfunction in children’s near vision
  • To understand how students engage with the curricula we design for their professional degree program.



After 12 year as a visiting clinical instructor starting in 1977, I became a full time lecturer with responsibilities by 1991 for teaching refraction and ocular health assessment, that is, most of a primary care eye examination.  I moved over the next 13 years to have responsibilities not only for single course design, but also for program design and mentoring of new and junior staff.  I currently teach across both vision science courses as well as clinical courses, and teach into Years 1, 2, and 3 of our 5-year program.  In the past I have instigated and managed a postgraduate course in our Masters program, Clinical Imaging.

Currently Course Convenor for OPTM2190: Introduction to Clinical Optometry which is compulsory for all students studying a BScBOptom program and for students completing a BSc (Vis Sci Major).

I also teach into

  • VISN1101 in Year 1 giving ‘the broad picture’ and motivation to study basic science in order to understand clinical techniques and clinical reasoning
  • VISN3111 in Year 3 with a unit on the science behind refractive errors
  • OPTM2291 Primary Care Optometry in Year 2
  • OPTM3211 with a unit on Primary Care Optometry as a first stage for students in our public clinic.


Professional affiliations and service positions

Academic Advisor to the school’s 450 students.

Director of the Vision Education Centre, UNSW (an outreach program for primary schools)

Administrator of the School of Optometry and Vision Science’s Preclinical Teaching Laboratory

Member of the Performance and Professional Standards Panel, Optometry Board of Australia, 2011-2014.

Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry

Member of the professional association Optometry Australia


Awards and Achievements

  • Michael G Harris Family Award for Excellence in Optometric Education from the American Optometric Foundation, American Academy of Optometry, in 2013
  • Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation in 2009 with $10,000 award for “Sustained inspirational teaching, academic mentoring and leadership in the scholarship of learning and teaching in the field of optometry”
  • UNSW Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, in 2010 with $7,500
  • Promotion to Associate Professor in 2008 based on outstanding teaching, leadership and scholarship in teaching that includes pedagogical research with dissemination to a wide audience of educators
  • UNSW Postgraduate Teaching Award in 2004 in recognition of ability to design curricula that engage non-academic support staff to enhance learning activities for postgraduate coursework
  • Through the late 1990s I managed the design and construction of the Preclinical Teaching Laboratory in the new Rupert Myers Building
  • Over the last twenty years I have successfully brought in $175,000 worth of funding for the Vision Education Centre and the Preclinical Teaching Laboratory.
+61 2 9385 4237
Level 3, Rupert Myers North Wing Gate 14 Barker Street Kensington