Gordon Sanderson Scholars

The Gordon Sanderson Scholarship

Awarded annually to an optometry or medical student from the Universities of Otago, Sydney or Auckland for research or education relating to glaucoma,  the scholarship was established in memory of Associate Professor Gordon Sanderson, a founding trustee of Glaucoma New Zealand (GNZ) and passionate eye health educator in both New Zealand and Australia.

2024 applications will be open August 2024.

Find Out More

2023 Scholarship Recipient – Sally Park

While glaucoma stands as one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness, there is a lack of data on the lifetime risk of blindness both globally and in New Zealand. My project aims to quantify the rates of blindness  among glaucoma patients at ADHB who died between 2015 and 2020. The research will focus on identifying the risk factors for blindness, including visual field loss at baseline/diagnosis, maximum intraocular pressure, fluctuation of intraocular pressure during treatment, type of glaucoma, age at death and the coexistence of other ocular pathology. The insights gained from this study will be invaluable for enhancing sevice planning and patient counselling provided by glaucoma providers.

2023 Scholarship Recipient – Kyla Fung

Kyla’s project involves writing a literature review and retrospective case series that explores the current scope of knowledge and usage of colchicine in general medicine and survey its use in ophthalmology, with particular attention to post-operative management of trabeculectomy. The aim will be to spread awareness and provide education on the use and safety of colchicine in ophthalmology practice – an area in which colchicine has not traditionally been used. She will be collaborating with an ophthalmologist who has been trialling giving low doses of colchicine to their patients post-trabeculectomy to see if it will reduce the inflammation and fibrosis in the eye, minimising the need for further surgical revisions and procedures.

2022 Scholarship Recipient – Esther Kim

The Role of Communication and Education in Glaucoma Medication Adherence


Adherence has been a challenge among patients with chronic, asymptomatic conditions requiring lifelong treatment.

To determine what are the barriers to adherence, the role of interprofessional collaborations, communication strategies and educational interventions to improve treatment adherence.

2022 Scholarship Recipient – Daniel Zhang

To determine whether there are any significant morphological brain changes in glaucoma patients, and if they are correlated to clinical outcomes.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in those aged over 50. Recent studies have shown that glaucoma is associated with not only optic neuropathy, but also post-chiasmal changes in the retino-geniculo-cortical visual pathway. In addition, changes outside of the primary visual pathway have been found to associate with glaucoma, suggesting the disease may be a complex neurodegenerative process. Some studies previously have attempted to utilise limited MRI data to for whole brain structure analysis, however with the small sample size had limited findings.


We plan to incorporate MRI data from UKBioBank (UKBB), a prospective cohort study representative of the United Kingdom population aged 40-69. It is the largest available collection of high-quality MRI brain scans, with over 40,000 scans and includes hundreds of measured variables. It also includes over 17,000 participants with a diagnosis of glaucoma. We will carry out volume-based analysis (VBA), surface-based analysis (SBA) and region of interest (ROI)- based analysis, utilising the superior participant numbers and covariate data available in the UKBB. These morphological changes then can be correlated with clinical measures of glaucoma which are included in UKBB.

The application of more advanced imaging technologies such as MRI for glaucoma may lead to more accurate knowledge of the pathophysiology of glaucoma, earlier diagnosis, and a better evaluation of responses to therapies. If morphological changes in MRI data correlate to known clinical measures, it may show that structural changes reflect glaucoma severity. With enough evidence of correlation, these structural brain changes, which are not limited to the primary visual cortex, may act as another possible biomarker of glaucoma progression in addition to what is used currently.

2021 Scholarship Recipient

Pratik Chandra

Pratik Chandra is currently a final year medical student at The University of Otago, Wellington and became interested in Ophthalmology during his attachment at the Wellington Hospital Eye Department.

Since then, he has pursued further research opportunities and clinical exposure to the specialty. In 2019, he helped to undertake a survey project called “New Zealand ophthalmologists’ opinions and behaviours on climate, carbon, and sustainability” which was successfully published in Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology. On the strength of this, Pratik won a scholarship to attend the RANZCO Annual Scientific Congress in Sydney in 2019. Pratik was honoured when he was awarded the Gordon Sanderson Scholarship and is excited to be working alongside Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer and Dr Michael Wang.

Pratik’s project is aimed at determining if educational interventions can improve patient knowledge of glaucoma and improve adherence to glaucoma therapy. Low illness knowledge leads to reduced adherence to therapy and poor outcomes in patients with glaucoma, as well as several other chronic illnesses. The study will be conducted via two telephone interviews. The first interview will be to determine baseline disease knowledge, adherence, and to provide education. Study participants will also be sent educational material via mail. The second interview will be a follow up interview done at four weeks to assess if there were any changes to disease knowledge and adherence after the provision of education. This is one of the first studies done in New Zealand aimed at determining the possible benefits of patient education for glaucoma and builds on similar research done in Australia. The study will utilise the Auckland Glaucoma Knowledge Questionnaire (AGKQ) to determine patient knowledge and will use information material provided by Glaucoma New Zealand as a basis for the education provided.

2020 Scholarship Recipient

Aqeeda Singh

Aqeeda Singh worked with the Dunedin Study, a world-renowned longitudinal study that has been following the lives of 1037 babies born in the greater Dunedin metropolitan area between 1 April 1972 and 31 March 1973 to understand the factors leading to significant health and social outcomes in life in particular glaucoma.

Read More
2019 Scholarship Recipient

Blair Lowry

Blair Lowry was a Gordon Sanderson Scholarship recipient in 2019, where he conducted research investigating the epidemiology of acute angle-closure glaucoma at Greenlane Clinical Centre. His research focused on identifying important demographic parameters that might identify which groups are more susceptible to developing an acute angle closure crisis, and ideally, those at-risk populations.

Read More
2018 Scholarship Recipient

Waldir Rodrigues De Souza Jr

Fourth year medical student Waldir Rodrigues De Souza Jr from the University of Otago, was introduced as the latest Gordon Sanderson scholar at the 2019 RANZCO NZ conference for his research into applying artificial intelligence (AI) to detect glaucoma.

Like others around the world Dr Souza’s research focused on training a deep learning algorithm to detect glaucoma, which the team achieved with ‘exciting sensitivity and specificity,’ he said


2018 Scholarship Recipient

Dr Hilary Goh

Hilary’s research suggests that glaucoma patients tend to have disorganized nailfold capillaries with reduced capillary density and more avascular zones. The presence of disorganized nailfold capillaries, avascular zones and hemorrhages are also associated with increased glaucoma severity and central vision loss. This shows that vascular abnormalities in glaucoma extend beyond the eye and that nailfold capillaroscopy is a potential adjunct that can be used clinically for glaucoma screening and assessment.

Read More

“Glaucoma New Zealand thanks all our generous donors, including the OSNZ Post Graduate Fund for its significant contribution to creating this lasting legacy in Gordon’s memory,”  Prof Danesh-Meyer, GNZ chair. 

Applying for a Gordon Sanderson Scholarship


Donate today to support research into new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent blindness from glaucoma.

Donate Now


Help us make a difference

Your donation will help us to save sight and continue helping people with glaucoma get access to the information and support they need.


Join Glaucoma NZ

Get the support you need

Glaucoma NZ provides free information, support materials and invites to events to help you and others live well with glaucoma.

Join Glaucoma NZ