Dr Josephine Battista conducts human psychophysical studies focused on visual perceptual changes due to migraine, aging and eye diseases such as glaucoma. She has a particular interest in the earlier detection, better clinical functional assessment, monitoring and rehabilitation of age-related eye disease. The psychophysical approach is taken in collaboration with Dr Allison McKendrick from the Department of Optometry and Vision Science (DOVS) at the University of Melbourne.
The eye allows for the non-invasive, in-vivo observation of the ability of blood vessels to cope with stress. They investigate the influence of stress by measuring retinal oxygen levels using an Oxymap during gas perturbations and assess how this is altered in ageing, and in diseases that involve the circulatory system, such as diabetes.
Normally, the circulatory system can adapt in response to demands to supply oxygen and nutrients and to remove metabolic waste. One way it achieves this is through changes in blood vessel width, which is compromised in diseases that involve the circulatory system. Due to the need for a fully functional blood supply to effectively deliver oxygen and nutrients, an impaired autoregulatory system may be the precursor to secondary complications seen in diabetes and ageing.
Previous studies have shown that pre-clinical changes to vessel reactivity can precede standard clinical signs of damage required for diagnosis. Studying the earliest retinal changes will extend the understanding of disease pathogeneses and may provide early markers of disease onset and progression. Psychophysical and electrophysiology testing paradigms will also be used to investigate whether visual performance varies during gas perturbation and how this may be affected in ageing and diabetes.