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Dr Jennifer Acton

Dr Jennifer Acton

Senior Lecturer & Director of Recruitment and Admissions

School of Optometry and Vision Sciences

+44 (0)29 2087 0203
Room 3.03, Optometry and Vision Sciences, Maindy Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


Research overview

My interests include public health and clinical research.  Current projects include the investigation of acute eye conditions in primary and secondary care, patient safety relating to eyecare and the role of pain related to the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Recent projects have examined the outcomes of vision rehabilitation.  Other specific areas involve measures of visual function in visual system disorders.  In particular, I am interested in monitoring the progression of visual loss, using functional and imaging techniques.  Recent studies have evaluated the use of microperimetry in AMD and in other diseases, with a focus on clinical interpretation with respect to normative data.  Current work includes the assessment of the relationship between vision-related quality of life outcomes with clinical measures such as microperimetry, in AMD and an evaluation of the role of microperimetry in nystagmus.

Teaching overview

My teaching duties include the role of module leader for the "Ocular Pharmacology" module for the second year undergraduate students. I am responsible for organising the course, designing the structure of the course and writing and delivering the lectures and practical sessions.



  • 2010- PhD (Vision Sciences) Aston University, Birmingham, UK
  • 2001- BSc Optometry, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Professional memberships

  • 2002- present     Member of the College of Optometrists (MCOptom), College of Optometrists, London, UK
  • 2014- present     Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Academic positions

  • 2012-Present - Lecturer, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK
  • 2012-2012 - Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Department of Ophthalmology, New York University, New York, USA
  • 2010-2012 - Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University, New York, USA
  • 2006-2010 - Postgraduate Clinical Demonstrator, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

Committees and reviewing

School committees

  • 2018-present: Director of Recruitment and Admissions
  • 2017-2018: Senior Admissions Tutor
  • 2012-2016:  Associate Admissions Tutor
  • 2017-present: Member of the Postgraduate Student Staff Panel
  • 2014-present: Member of the Postgraduate Research Committee
  • 2013-present: Member of the Teaching and Learning Committee
  • 2012-present: Member of the Board of Studies
  • 2016-2020: Senior Personal Tutor

University committees

  • College of Biomedical & Life Sciences Admissions & Recruitment Group

External committees

  • 2014-present   Guide Dogs Psycho-Social Ethics Committee










I have a strong desire to undertake research that has a direct impact on society. I am involved in a number of projects in the area of public health and in clinical projects related to retinal diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

In a collaborative project with the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, we are investigating the acute eye conditions that present to optometrists, pharmacists, GPs and to A&E.  In another collaborative project with the School of Medicine, we are evaluating eye-related patient safety.

We are using mixed methods research to evaluate the experience of pain in patients undergoing anti-VEGF injections for AMD, as part of a collaboration with the School of Healthcare.

My research interests also involve the examination of visual function in AMD, which was established during my PhD and developed during international postdoctoral research fellowships.  Past work involved the topographical assessment of the retina using multimodal imaging in relation to visual function measured by microperimetry and other visual field techniques in AMD and in other retinal diseases. Recent studies have evaluated the application of normative data in microperimetry, using the Macular Integrity Assessment (Centervue; Figure 1) and MP-1 (Nidek) instruments, to enable robust interpretation of results in those with visual system disorders.  Another ongoing study is the evaluation of the relationship of microperimetry with vision-related and health-related quality of life instruments in individuals with AMD.

In other research, we have determined the agreement between low vision optometrists and consultant ophthalmologists in the process of certification for vision impairment.  We have also estimated the impact of vision rehabilitation on quality of life outcomes in individuals with low vision.  Our findings provide support for the effectiveness of the vision rehabilitation service.


  • Figure 1. Microperimetry results in a healthy eye.
  • Figure 2. Microperimetry results in early AMD.

Summary of findings

  • Low vision optometrists and consultant ophthalmologists demonstrated equivalent performance in the certification of vision impairment, when classifying abridged cases for certification.
  • Vision rehabilitation has a positive influence on vision-related quality of life.
  • In early AMD, thinning of the outer segment layer, measured using retinal layer segmentation of spectral-domain optical coherence tomography images, was significantly associated with reduced microperimetry sensitivity (Fig 1.).
  • Commercial microperimetry is limited by the lack of robust probability analyses. A normative database and robust model of analysis to detect abnormality have been developed.
  • Despite similarities in stimuli and threshold procedures between microperimetry and conventional perimetry, there are important differences between instruments that need to be taken into account when interpreting visual field results. These include the difference in dynamic range, normative data and background luminance levels. The amount of visual loss detected, differed between instruments and this was dependent upon adaptation level and type of retinal disease.


Acton JH (PI), Carson-Stevens A, Evaluation of errors in the delivery of care to patients with eye-related problems, KESS2 PhD studentship, 2019

Acton JH (PI), Ryan B, Morgan J, GCRF fellowship, 2018

Redmond T (PI), Acton JH, Greenwood J, Glaucoma, visual psychophysics, visual fields, quality of life, College of Optometrists Studentship, 2018

John R (PI), Acton JH, Evidencing the potential role of Low Vision Service Wales Optometrists in the certification of vision impairment, Sight Cymru 2017

Thomas N (PI), Dunn M, Acton JH, Erichsen JT, Retinal predictors of visual performance in nystagmus, Nystagmus Network, 2017

Wood A (PI), Acton JH, Waterman H, Investigation of pain and discomfort associated with anti-VEGF injections, Abbeyfield Research Foundation, 2016

Dunn M (PI), Acton JH, Erichsen JT,  Retinal predictors of visual performance in infantile nystagmus, College of Optometrists Studentship, 2016

Acton JH (PI), Margrain T, Effectiveness of vision rehabilitation, Sight Cymru, Cardiff Council, Welsh Government, 2015

Acton JH (PI), Redmond T, Cassels N, Prediction of the integrated visual field in age-related macular degeneration, CUROP, 2015

Acton JH, A microperimetric evaluation of age-related macular degeneration and polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy, JSPS, 2015

Acton JH (PI), Binns AM, Margrain TH, Does rehabilitation officer input improve quality of life in individuals with low vision?, Sight Cymru, Cardiff Council, Welsh Government, 2014

Acton JH (PI), The application of spatial filtering to microperimetry in age-related macular degeneration, College of Optometrists, 2014

Acton JH (PI) & Margrain TH, Evaluation of the Macular Integrity Assessment microperimeter, Fight for Sight, 2013

Research collaborators

  • Prof Victor Chong, Oxford Eye Hospital, Clinical Evaluation of Macular Disease
  • Dr Vivienne C. Greenstein, Dept of Ophthalmology, Columbia University, Microperimetry in retinal disease
  • Dr Bablin Molik, Sight Cymru
  • Dr Andrew Carson-Stevens, School of Medicine, Cardiff University
  • Dr Mat Smith, School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University


Age-related macular degeneration and other retinal diseases

Public health and eye care

Visual function

Current supervision

Elinor MacFarlane

Research student

Skoczek, Kristian

Kristian Skoczek

Research student

Nikita Thomas

Nikita Thomas

Research student

Yiallouridou, Christina

Christina Yiallouridou

Research student

Past projects

Lead supervisor for Nicola Cassels - Quality of life and clinical outcomes in age-related macular degeneration (awarded 2017)