About us

The Community Eye Heath team at the University of Auckland comprises research, teaching and professional staff from the School of Optometry and Vision Science, as well as collaborators and advisors from other parts of the University, the health sector and beyond.

Joanna Black

Joanna Black

Deputy Head of School

I am an optometrist and vision science researcher with interests in visual development and the provision of eye care in paediatric groups. I currently have projects investigating school vision screening and treatment approaches for amblyopia in young children. I am also investigating how eye care can be made more equitable by identifying barriers currently experienced by children and whānau accessing these services.

Jacqui Ramke

Jacqui Ramke

Associate Professor

I joined SOVS in 2020. My work is focused on equity and eye health, and current projects include an HRC funded project to improve monitoring of and access to diabetes eye care in Auckland, and a pilot study for a population-based prevalence survey of vision impairment.

Renata Watene

Renata Watene

Ngā Puhi | Tainui

I am a Māori Optometrist with several community clinics. In 2020 I joined SOVS as a Professional Teaching Fellow Kaiāwhina.  Through my mahi I have a been able to support staff, students and research projects by assessing our approaches to cultural safety and Te Tiriti ensuring we are actively including these values in all we do.

Lisa Hamm

Lisa Hamm

Rutherford Postdoctoral Research Fellow

My work generally sits at the intersection of vision science and community eye health. I’m particularly interested in promoting equitable access to eyecare during childhood, and investigating how the timing of treatment impacts the development of the visual system

Rajneeta Saraf

Rajneeta Saraf

Research Fellow

I am coordinating the pilot study for Aotearoa’s first population-based Eye Health Survey. This Survey will provide information on vision impairment and eye health among Māori, Pacific and other NZ population groups aged 40 years and above. We will also learn about the key barriers to eye-care services and how these impact eye health.

Pushkar Silwal

Pushkar Silwal

Research Assistant

I am a public health professional. I enjoy working at the cross-section of data, epidemiology, and policy in pursuit of health system improvement. Population eye health has been a new addition to my areas of work and I am finding it extremely satisfying.

Lucy Goodman

Lucy Goodman

Research Fellow

I completed my PhD in Physiology in 2015. Since then, I have developed interests in science writing and communication, and vision research. I enjoy collating and synthesising complex information and I hope to apply these skills to new projects within the Community Eye Health team.

Telusila Vea

Telusila Vea

Community Coordinator

I joined SOVS in 2021 as a Community Coordinator following completion of my Masters in Public Health focused on Pacific Health. Our pilot population-based study uncovered a large unmet need for eye care in our Pacific Community and I look forward to working with the Community Eye Health Team to make eye care more accessible in Aotearoa.

Rebecca Findlay

Rebecca Findlay

PhD candidate

I am a clinically trained optometrist and began my PhD in 2017 on vision screening in New Zealand children and how vision conditions are related to reading ability. I became interested in this after completing my Masters, which highlighted the lack of contemporary population data for eye conditions in New Zealand children.  I hope that the findings of my research will help to improve equity in eye care for New Zealand children.

Jaymie Rogers

Jaymie Rogers

PhD candidate

In 2020 I was awarded the University of Auckland Senior Health Research Scholarship to complete my PhD on inequities in eye care access with a particular focus on Māori and Pacific people in Auckland. I hope my research will be used to plan equitable eye care services for all New Zealanders.

Jay South

Jay South

PhD candidate

I began my PhD in 2018 on Aniseikonia: A potential barrier to neural plasticity. My thesis investigates the role that image size plays in anisometropic amblyopia. I became interested in this as through my clinical experience I have come across a large number of children who are not able to complete amblyopia treatment due to inequitable access to glasses and occlusion. I hope that my research will highlight the importance of glasses as the first line of amblyopia treatment and improve funding and access for all children.

Deepa Kumar

Deepa Kumar

MHSc candidate

I began my research-based Masters in July 2020. I aim to summarise the characteristics of people with diabetes who accessed retinal screening and ophthalmology services in Counties Manukau DHB in 2019 and 2020, as well as the service-related barriers to access.I hope my findings will inform strategies to improve access to diabetes eye care as well as other services at the DHB.