Lions Eye Institute’s newest Brian King Fellow
Meet Dr Jessica Mountford, one of the Lions Eye Institute’s newest team members. Jessica moved from Melbourne to join the Institute in February, and will be investigating the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on myopia in our children.
We interviewed Jessica to gain a little more insight about her research and life during the Melbourne lockdowns.
You moved to Perth from Melbourne. What was that like with COVID-19 restrictions?
My family and I relocated from Melbourne, Victoria. However I previously spent four and a half years living in Perth, so we were all very excited to make the move back to the west coast. In 2020, we experienced a total of 112 days strict lockdown, and although challenging at first we adapted rather well. The thing we missed most was not being able to spend time outside. We then had to quarantine here in Perth, which was interesting with our two young boys River, four years old, and Bowie who is two.
What drew you to Perth and the Lions Eye Institute?
My time previously spent in Perth was so lovely, before I left in 2017, I held an honorary position at the Lions Eye Institute and gained an appreciation for the multi-disciplinary team comprising ophthalmologists and researchers within a world-class facility. Consequently, when I came across an advertisement for the Brian King Fellowship, I immediately thought it would be an excellent opportunity to continue my research focus on myopia.
What is your research background?
I have a strong background in molecular biology, haematology and virology. I completed my PhD at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases, Monash University. Following my PhD I completed two post-doctoral positions at The University of Western Australia and I worked on projects studying the molecular genetics of inherited retinal diseases, including myopia.
Can you tell us about your proposed research?
My proposed research titled “The Myopia Generation – Exploring the rise of early-onset myopia following the digital age and a world post COVID-19 lockdown” was inspired by my experience of lockdown in Melbourne, and witnessing the move to online learning as a result of educational institutions being closed. As children have increased their screen time completing school work at home, they have increased their environmental risk of developing early-onset myopia by limiting the amount of time they spend outdoors in natural light. I will investigate any effects this may pose on long-term eye health in school age children, in particular early-onset myopia.
Learn more about Jessica and her proposed research titled, “The Myopia Generation- Exploring the rise of early-onset myopia following the digital age and a world post COVID-19 lockdown”.