Eye overlayed with lines and measurements

Corneal Research Group

Novel solutions to restore sight and promote eye health
We aim to improve the quality of life for people affected by ocular infections, corneal conditions and ocular surface conditions.

About us

We aim to improve outcomes for patients affected by cornea disorders. Our main research areas are:

Our research is focused on developing innovative solutions to restore sight and eye health for the affected patients.

Group leader

Professor Stephanie Watson

Serious ocular infections
Fight Corneal Blindness!

Therapeutics and technology

What are the issues?

We are focused on tackling a range of eye health issues, ranging from ocular infections, corneal disorders to ocular surface diseases.

Eye infections can result in vision loss and even blindness when they irreversibly damage the eye's structure.

The appropriate use of antimicrobials for eye infections can save sight. However, antimicrobial resistance is an emerging and significant problem.

Corneal conditions such as keratoconus and corneal infection cause vision loss and blindness. Find out more through the Fight Corneal Blindness! project.

Ocular surface diseases cause vision loss, blindness and severely impact on people's quality of life.

Our research focuses on providing innovative solutions to address stem cell repair, sutureless surgery and dry eye. Their implications for eye surface health include:

  • stem cells play an important role in restoring clear vision and comfort
  • sutures seal ocular wounds in corneal surgery and transplantation, however, they have a number of disadvantages including infection
  • dry eye and blepharitis (eyelid inflammation) are common eye disorders that cause ongoing discomfort.

Research highlights

Our research projects aim to investigate the causes and treatment interventions for a range of ocular infections, corneal disorders and ocular surface diseases.

Serious ocular infections project

This research aims to determine the pattern of pathogenic microbes and the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in the most common, sight-threatening eye infections. This project focuses on endophthalmitis (infection of the globe) and microbial keratitis (infection of the cornea), and is supported by the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation.

New treatments for viral blindness

Herpes simplex kertitis is a leading cause of blindness from eye infections in Australia and developed countries.

Our research group is developing Australian guidelines for anti-viral therapy for this infection, with the aim to preserve vision for those affected. This project is supported by the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation. This guideline includes treatment recommendations for epithelial HSK, stromal HSK with ulceration, stromal HSK without ulceration, endothelial HSK, keratouveitis, HSK prophylaxis for adults, and topical and systemic treatment recommendations for paediatric patients. This project was funded by The Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation.

To find out more, review the Herpes Simplex Keratitis Treatment Guidelines (pdf, 1MB).

Educational video to support diagnosis of Herpes Simplex Keratitis

This short animated educational video was created to provide a guide to clinically diagnose the different types of Herpes Simplex Keratitis (HSK).

Educational video to support the treatment of Herpes Simplex Keratitis 

This short animated educational video was created to disseminate the treatment guideline for Herpes Simplex Keratitis (HSK).

Educational video for corneal scrapes from microbial keratitis patients

This animated video was created for trainees and trainers in opthalmology. It demonstrates the best practice for performing a corneal scrape on microbial keratitis patients for diagnosis.

The Fight Corneal Blindness! project is part of the Save Sight Registries and has key registries relating to corneal conditions. 

We focus on innovative solutions to restore sight and eye health in a range of ocular surface diseases, with a particular interest in stem cell repair, sutureless surgery, dry eye and ocular trauma.

Clinical Trials

We are currently running clinical trials in the following areas:

  • Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD): Meibomian are a type of gland in the eyelid. MGD is a blockage or abnormality of the glands, which prevents secretion of oil into the tears. This causes the tears to evaporate too quickly, leading to dry eye
  • Adenoviral Conjunctivitis is an infection of the eye that spread through direct contact. Symptoms include redness, tearing, irritation, itching, and/or water discharge.

To find out more information contact us on (02) 9382 7309 or email us at cornea-trial.admin@sydney.edu.au.

MGD Clinical Trials


Status - Enrolling

More Information

Adenoviral Conjunctivitis Clinical Trials


Status - Enrolling 

More Information

Stem cell repair

We have developed a world-first stem cell transplantation technique that has already successfully restored sight to a number of patients. Our technique involves growing corneal stem cells on a contact lens for transfer onto the patient's ocular surface.

Our research continues to examine the factors required to promote stem cell repair of the ocular surface.

Sutureless surgery

Our team has developed a laser-activated chitosan bioadhesive that can be applied rapidly to the eye in place of sutures.

The bioadhesive is also capable of delivering anti-infective and anti-inflammatory agents to wounds in eye surgery.

New treatments for dry eye

We have developed a new eye drop that addresses all underlying aspects of dry eye and blepharitis (eyelid inflammation). Our clinical trials show decreased signs and symptoms of the disorders after use.

Our eye drop has the potential to treat both the cause and symptoms of dry eye and blepharitis with less side effects. Our team is currently seeking funding for phase two trials.

Link between breast cancer treatment and dry eye

Our research suggests breast cancer patients experience dry eye more often than healthy patients.

Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs) are standard drugs used in post-menopausal women with breast cancer, and our study found a link between AIs and the occurrence of dry eye.

We are currently investigating whether dry eye symptoms in AI therapy patients resemble the clinical features of dry eye. We will also investigate the effect of AI therapy on serum and tear levels of sex hormones. Establishing these links will assist us in developing new therapeutic interventions and treatments for dry eye.

This project is supported by the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia.

Support our research

Our research relies on grants, bequests and donations
Learn how to donate

Professor Stephanie Watson

Stephanie Watson

Save Sight Institute

  • South Block, Sydney Eye Hospital 8 Macquarie Street Sydney NSW 2000