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Dr Catharine Chisholm

LocationF13b, Richmond building
DepartmentBradford School of Optometry and Vision Sciences
Telephone+44 (0) 1274 234635 (Mon-Wed)

Research Interests (key words only)

Visual performance, contact lenses, vision standards

Teaching and Supervisory Responsibilities

Catharine is the Director of Contact Lens Clinics and is joint module leader for both second year and final year contact lens modules. She is involved in the practical teaching of primary care in addition to contact lenses. 

Administrative Responsibilities

Administrative posts include Knowledge Transfer manager for BSOVS, schools liaison officer and environment officer.

She organises the annual Prestige Lecture in honour of Professor David Pickwell, which takes place each autumn at the University. 


Following qualification as an optometrist, Catharine worked in practice for an independent optometry group in East Anglia, alongside teaching at Anglia Ruskin University. She then became a lecturer and senior lecturer at Anglia Ruskin while continuing to work in practice part time. Catharine joined the staff in the optometry department at City University, London in 1997, firstly as a research assistant whilst she gained her PhD, and then as a lecturer. She joined the Bradford School of Optometry and Vision Science as a lecturer in 2006.

Study History

Catharine is an optometrist who graduated from the University of Manchester in 1992 and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1993.

She was awarded her PhD from City University in 2003, entitled 'The assessment of visual performance: comparison of normal subjects and post-refractive surgery patients'.

Research Areas

Her research covers a number of areas including the optical quality of the eye and its effect on visual performance, particularly in relation to contact lenses and also myopia. Other areas of interest include the effect of visual field loss on driving and occupational vision standards. These areas are related by their use of psychophysical techniques to investigate visual performance.

Her current research is funded by the rehabilitation charity, Remedi, Coopervision UK and the Rail Standards Safety Board.

With colleagues, she has successfully supervised Dr Ehsaei to completion of her PhD in 2012, entitled 'An investigation of the relationship between the structure and function of the myopic eye'.

She is currently supervising one PhD student (Mr Pedro Serra) and one MD student (Dr Matt Smith)

Previous research has been supported by the Department for Transport, Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Police Service for Northern Ireland.

Current Projects


Current projects include a collaboration with Dr Richard Wilkie (University of Leeds), Professor Bipin Bhakachandra (Leeds General Infirmary), Dr Matt Smith and the William Merritt Centre (Leeds), looking at the effect of visual field loss and visual neglect on eye movement behaviour and steering performance while driving. This project is funded by the rehabilitation charity Remedi. 


Examination of the relationship between structure and function in myopic eyes, in collaboration with Dr Asieh Ehsaei, Dr Ed Mallen and Dr Ian Pacey.

Contact Lenses

Visual performance and peripheral refraction in contact lenses. Funded by Coopervision UK.

Ophthalmic Public Health

Investigation of the viability of not-for-profit primary eyecare in collaboration with Professor Darren Shickle at the University of Leeds. 

Astigmatism and visual performance

With Dr Mike Cox, Catharine is involved in supervising Mr Pedro Serra towards a PhD, examining the role of astigmatism in visual performance post-cataract, and its potential to improve functional vision in the developing world.

Research Collaborations

Current research collaborators

Dr Richard Wilkie at the University of Leeds - vision and driving

Professor Darren Shickle at the University of Leeds - Ophthalmic Public Health


External to the University, Catharine is currently President of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA). She also sits on the Academic, Conference and Executive committees of the BCLA and is closely involved in developing the conference programme for the Annual BCLA Clinical Conference, the largest contact lens conference in the world.


  • Exploring Eye Movements in Patients with Glaucoma When Viewing a Driving Scene, Crabb DP, Smith ND, Rauscher FG, Chisholm CM et al. PLOS ONE 2010: 5(3):e9710
  • Cross-sectional sample of peripheral refraction in four meridians in myopes and emmetropes Ehsaei, A., Mallen, EAH., Chisholm, CM., and Pacey, IE Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science 2011; 52(10) 7574-85
  • The effect of instrument alignment on peripheral refraction measurements by automated optometer Ehsaei, A., Chisholm, CM., Mallen, EAH., and Pacey, IE. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 2011; 31(4): 413-420
  • Central and Peripheral Visual Performance in Myopes: Contact Lenses versus Spectacles Ehsaei, A., Chisholm, CM., MacIsaac, JC., Mallen, EAH., Pacey, IE. Contact Lens and Anterior Eye 2011; 34(4):128-132
  • Assessing visual fields for driving in patients with paracentral scotomata Chisholm CM, Rauscher FG, Crabb DC, et al. British Journal of Ophthalmology 2008; 92 (2): 225-230
  • Occupational colour vision requirements for police officers Chisholm, CM., Birch, J. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 2008; 28(6); 524-31
  • New test to assess pilot’s vision following refractive surgery Chisholm, CM., Evans, ADB., Harlow, AJ., Barbur, JL. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine 2003; 47(5) 551-559
  • The effects of hydrogel lens wear on low contrast acuity Yasoubi, N., Chisholm, C.M. and Edgar, D.F. Journal of Modern Optics 2008. 55(4-5); 599-610
  • Department for Transport road safety research report No. 79: Central scotomata and driving (2007) Rauscher, F.G., Chisholm, C.M., Crabb, D.C. et al.
  • Assessment of visual performance – effects of corneal refractive surgery. Chisholm, C.M., Evans, A.D.B., Harlow, J.A. and Barbur J.L. Vision in Vehicles 2003
  • Effects of increased scattered light on visual performance. Barbur, J.L., Chisholm, C.M., Harlow, A.J. Non-invasive Assessment of the Visual System (Technical Digest Series).Washington DC: Optical Society of America 1999. 1; 6-9
  • Author of the British Society for Refractive Surgery ‘Home Office Sub-Committee’ report on the implications of refractive surgery for the Police, Fire and Armed Services


Much of Catharine's vision standards work as led to changes to the vision requirements for a number of occupations. The impact of evidence based vision standards has been greater safety and in some cases, the inclusion of individuals previously excluded from particular occupations on the basis of their vision, e.g. the 8% of males who are colour defective are now eligible to join the police force because the evidence does not support the exclusion of these individuals from the majority of roles. 

In the News/Media

Catharine contributed to a series of articles on vision and driving in Optometry Today, which formed part of the debate about the need for new visual requirements for drivers. 

She supervised two undergraduate students over the summer of 2011 as part of a summer research scholarship funded by Coopervision UK. The students, Mr Barney Norris and Mr Pat Friis, went on to win the Coopervision Challenge, beating stiff competition from the other UK optometry schools.

Dr Catharine Chisholm becomes President of the British Contact Lens Association.

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