Why the eye?
The eyes are the window to the world. They are why we as humans appreciate beauty, recognize danger and function in our environments. However, the eye is also a complex organ with many parts to its anatomy that all need to function properly to help the brain receive, understand and interpret images. Understandably, eye diseases and injuries, vision impairment and vision loss can severely impact an individual’s quality of life.
Eye and vision researchers study the eye’s anatomy and its relationship to the brain to understand how to prevent, treat and correct eye and vision disorders. The information they discover helps inform the development of new medicines, surgeries, procedures and clinical practices that ultimately help ophthalmologists and optometrists better care for eyes around the world.
Protecting and restoring sight does not just occur in a lab, though. Eye and vision researchers may also work as science writers, helping the public understand why and how to care for your eyes. They may also work as science policy experts, providing advice to lawmakers on how to advance eye and vision research.
A career in eye and vision science is infinitely rewarding with numerous paths that will lead you to make an impact in many peoples’ lives. We hope that the resources here will help you on your journey, and that we may one day welcome you as an ARVO member!
I was a young college student when the Human Genome Project started and I thought the future of medicine is an integration of discovering how our bodies function at a molecular level, and how that impacts disease. I decided to pursue a PhD in Genetics, was part of the Human Genome Project, and was the first to identify many human disease genes including a gene important in how the eye converts light energy to an image in your brain. This intrigue and fascination with genetics and vision led me to focus my lab on vision research, understanding how genes influence disease, and pursuit developing the first broad spectrum therapy to treat vision loss.
Day in the LifeFollow ARVO member, Daisy Shu, PhD, on a typical day as a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School.
Steps towards success
So you're interested in pursuing a career in ophthalmology and/or eye and vision research. That's great! Now you may be wondering where to begin and how to make the most of your education to achieve your goals.
It is important to remember that not everyone's path to becoming an eye and vision researcher is the same. It can vary depending on your interests, the country you live in, and your life experiences. We asked some of our members to share their journeys. Click on their pictures below to learn about their educational and professional paths.
Eyes, sight and vision—get curious!
Do you like to ask questions? Are you interested in learning about how things work? Then you are already well on your way to becoming a researcher! Researchers are people just like you took their curiosity and made it a career, and we know you have what it takes to do the same!
Feed your curiousity by exploring some of the resources and videos below to get you started on your path to becoming an eye and vision scientist.