RCOphth and Ulverscroft Foundation announce winner of the Ulverscroft David Owen Prize

  • 30 Mar 2022
  • RCOphth

RCOphth would like to congratulate Dr Sohaib Riyaz Rufai and his colleagues at The University of Leicester Ulverscroft Eye Unit, based at Leicester Royal Infirmary, for winning the Ulverscroft David Owen prize for the best-published paper titled: “Can Structural Grading of Foveal Hypoplasia Predict Future Vision in Infantile Nystagmus? A Longitudinal Study”

Dr Sohaib Rufai and colleagues conducted the world’s first study using handheld optical coherence tomography (OCT) to predict future vision in infantile nystagmus. Children with nystagmus (involuntary eye movements) can have underdevelopment of the fovea, termed ‘foveal hypoplasia’. The fovea is the central part of the retina responsible for fine vision.

In this study, handheld OCT was used – a child-friendly device designed for the paediatric population, providing three-dimensional images of the eye in amazingly minute detail. This enabled Dr Rufai and colleagues to measure different parts of the fovea and grade the severity of foveal hypoplasia. They also performed preferential looking testing, a widely used vision assessment method for infants.

Dr Rufai and colleagues found that the grade of foveal hypoplasia was the best predictor of future vision in infantile nystagmus – far better than preferential looking. This can provide useful diagnostic and prognostic information and can help guide the clinical management of infantile nystagmus.

Speaking on winning the prize, Dr Rufai said “It is a great honour to receive the Ulverscroft David Owen Prize on behalf of my team. I’m grateful to my fantastic mentors and colleagues at Leicester: Dr Mervyn Thomas, Dr Frank Proudlock and Professor Irene Gottlob. I am also grateful to co-authors Dr Ravi Purohit (Oxford), Dr Catey Bunce (Royal Marsden, London) and Dr Helena Lee (Southampton). We dedicate this prize to all the wonderful children and families who supported this research.”

The Award will be presented at the RCOphth Annual Congress in May 2022 in Glasgow along with a short presentation of the  Study from Dr Rufai.