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Professor Tom Margrain

Professor Tom Margrain

Director of Research

+44 29208 76118
+44 (0)29 2087 4859
Room 2.28, Maindy Road, Optometry and Vision Sciences, Maindy Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ


I am a Professor of Visual Science and Director of Research at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences.

My research focuses on macular disease, the UK’s leading cause of visual impairment. By developing new technologies capable of detecting and monitoring macular disease at an early stage, I hope we can speed up the development of new therapeutic interventions.

In partnership with the UK Astronomy Technology Centre our research team, the Macular Research Group, has developed a new technique called high fidelity Imaging Retinal Densitometry (IRD) that probes the functional integrity of the outer retinal complex. This unique device will deliver a paradigm shift in our understanding of retinal function in health and disease. Together with more conventional technologies we are currently using IRD in a clinical trial of a new therapeutic compound for age-related macular degeneration.  


  • 2000- MILT (Member of the Higher Education Academy).
  • 1998- PhD (Visual Science) City University, London.
  • 1987- MCOptom (Member of the College of Optometrists).
  • 1986- BSc (Ophthalmic Optics, 2:1), Aston University.

Professional memberships

  • Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)
  • General Optical Council

Academic positions

  • 2018-date - Director of Research
  • 2015-date - Chair
  • 2010-2015 - Reader / Director of Innovation and Engagement, Cardiff University.
  • 2005-2010 - Senior Lecturer / Clinical Director, Cardiff University.
  • 2000-2005 - Lecturer (B) / Clinical Director, Cardiff University.
  • 1997-2000 - Lecturer (A), Cardiff University.
  • 1995-1996 - Research Fellow, City University, London.
  • 1993-1995 - Research Assistant, City University, London.

Speaking engagements

  • 2014- Presentation - Top Doctors Conference, Macular Society, Bristol, Experimental treatments for Macular Disease.
  • 2012- Presentation - Queens University Belfast Early Detection of AMD
  • 2012- Presentation - City University, London Macular Disease Detection and Diagnosis
  • 2012- Presentation - Singleton Hospital, Swansea. Ophthalmology Research Scoping Study
  • 2011- Presentation - Eye Care Conference, Cardiff Sight Loss and Depression
  • 2011- Presentation - South Wales Eye Forum Depression in Visual Impairment
  • 2011- Resource - RNIB Low Vision Assessment Framework
  • 2010- Presentation - Wales and West Vision Conference, Low Vision Service Models
  • 2010- Presentation - School of Optics and Optometry, Terrassa, Spain, Clinical teaching of Optometry
  • 2010- TV, CANAL TERRASSA, Spain, Optometry

Committees and reviewing

  • 2014-2021 - Macular Society Reseach Committee
  • 2012-2020 - Guide Dogs Strategic Research Advisory Committee
  • 2010-2015 - National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR), Wales Specialty Group Lead for Ophthalmology.
  • 2010-2015 - National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Ophthalmology Speciality Group, Welsh Representative.
  • 2011-2014 - Trial Advisor: Stepped-care to reduce depression and anxiety in visually impaired older adults - a randomized controlled trial.




























The development of new diagnostic technologies and therapeutics for early stage macular disease is my main research interest. Together with colleagues in our Macular Research Group I am involved in the following projects:

SAponins for MAcular DIsease (SAMADI)

With Dr Ashley Wood, Prof Marcela Votruba, Dr Rebecca Playle, Ms Claire Nollett, Dr Irene Ctori and Dr Alison Binns, this is a Clinical Trial of an Investigational Medicinal Product (triterpenoid saponins) for early and intermediate stage age-related macular degeneration. This Phase IIb trial is funded by AltRegen Co. Ltd, coordinated by the Centre for Trials Reseach and is taking place at Cardiff University and City University, London. Recruitment opens in October 2021. Dark adaptation metrics, including those from high fidelity Imaging Retinal Densitometry (IRD), are outcome measures.

High fidelity imaging densitometry: exploring the relationship between visual pigment kinetics, choroidal vasculature and sub-retinal drusenoid deposits in age-related macular degeneration 

With Dr Ashley Wood this PhD studentship (Ms Vera Silva) funded by the Macular Society aims to establish: 1) the effect of age on IRD and OCTA results; 2) the relationship between outer-retinal function and choroidal vasculature in people with early stage AMD; 3) the relationship between IRD and conventional measures of dark adaptation and patient reported visual function.

Functional imaging of the outer retina using high fidelity imaging densitometry: exploring the relationship between visual pigment kinetics and AMD pathology

With Dr Ashley Wood this College of Optometrists funded PhD studentship (Ms Krishna Pattni) will use IRD to find out how drusen characteristics, including reticular pseudo drusen, effect visual pigment regeneration. We will test the hypothesis that cone pigment regeneration is selectively impaired by soft drusen and rod pigment regeneration by reticular pseudo drusen.

Utilising Augmented Reality (AR) To Improve Mobility In People With Low Vision  

With Dr Parisa Eslambolchilar and Prof Yukun Lai from the School of Computer Science and support from Guide Dogs, Cardiff Institute for the Blind (CIB) and Sight Cymru this PhD studentship (Hein Htike) is developing an augmented reality device that can help people with low vision safely navigate their way around buildings and the built environment.


Past projects