May 01, 2016

Southampton, United Kingdom, May 2016 — Global contact lens manufacturer CooperVision has announced that the 2016 CooperVision FORCE Student of the Year is Izabela Garaszczuk, a student from Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland. UK finalist Romana Khaliq from Glasgow Caledonian University took third prize.

This year’s FORCE (Future Ocular Research Creativity Event) final took place at CooperVision’s Centre of Innovation in Budapest, Hungary on 16th April. Teams of students and educators from nine countries took part.

Overall winner Izabela’s study, supervised by Dr Robert Iskander, evaluated tear turnover rate using two techniques – Fourier transform profilometry (Eye Surface Profiler) and optical coherence tomography (OCT) – that allowed direct assessment of tear film dynamics across the whole ocular surface. Second place went to Michela Marton from the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy for her study of a drug-delivery system using a bio-polymer contact lens.

Romana Khaliq, supervised by Dr Ian Pearce, was awarded third place for a comparison of tear evaporation rates between two contact lens materials (hydrogel and silicone hydrogel) under different environmental conditions.

Romana measured tear evaporation at high and low relative humidity using two instruments: the ServoMed research evaporimeter and a new clinical evaporimeter, the Delfin VapoMeter. The ServoMed device showed no significant difference between materials within 30 minutes of insertion. With the Delfin, hydrogel lenses did increase evaporation but the SiHy lenses showed no significant change in evaporation rate.

FORCE is an annual competition in the field of contact lenses pitching the very best students from colleges and universities all over Europe against each other. Students are invited to undertake a research project on a contact lens-related subject of their choice and to present their findings.

Winners from each country go forward to the FORCE European final for a chance to become CooperVision FORCE Student of Year. The prize is a full delegate package, including travel and accommodation, to attend an international contact lens meeting.

Last year’s overall winner Fiona Buckmaster, also from Glasgow Caledonian University, attended the final to describe her experiences since winning the CooperVision FORCE Student of the Year title. Fiona attended the Nederlands Contactlens Congres in March and also spent time volunteering in Africa. Her study will be published in the peer-reviewed journal, Cornea.

This year’s finalists and topics were:

  • Tereza Černohousová, Czech Technical University, Prague, Czech Republic

Supervisor: Professor Ing Jiří Novák

Influence of aberrations on basic vision quality parameters.

  • Izabela Garaszczuk, Wroclaw University Of Technology, Poland

Supervisor: Dr Robert Iskander

Tear turnover rate evaluation with Fourier transform profilometry and optical coherence tomography

  • Romana Khaliq, Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland

Supervisor: Dr Ian Pearce

The effect of contact lenses on tear evaporation rate.

  • Nathalie Klaassen and Christy van der Plaat, University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Supervisors: Louise van Doorn and Mirjam van Tilborg

Time required to reach stability after long-term contact lens wear.

  • Pontus Løth, Pernille Holm Ibsen and Andreas Christiansen, Copenhagen School of Design and Technology, Denmark

Supervisor: Associate Professor Lars Bo Delkus

The association between myopia, pupil diameter and cataract.

  • Marina Martín and Rocio Robledo, European University Madrid, Spain

Supervisor: Christina Alvarez Peregrina

Pilot study of the effects of multifocal lenses, comparing quality of life between wearers of spectacles and contact lenses.

  • Michela Marton, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

Supervisor: Silvia Tavazza

Realisation and characterisation of a biopolymeric material functionalised for contact lenses.

  • Réka Szántai and Katalin Varga, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

Compromises of multifocal contact lenses.

  • Mehdi Yahiani, University of Paris-Sud, Orsay, France

Supervisor: Frédéric Ponche

Soft contact lenses to control myopia.

Judging the projects were researchers and clinicians Elena Garcia Rubio (National Institute of Optometry, Madrid, Spain), Giancarlo Montani (University of Salento, Lecce, Italy), Pascale Dauthuile (University of Paris-Sud, France) and Dr Beáta Tapasztó (Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary), along with Chairman Nick Rumney (Hereford, UK).

Entries were invited for clinical trials, clinical review papers and case reports, and were judged for the evidence for and importance of the project, and the quality and clarity of presentation.

Presenting the awards on behalf of the judges, Nick Rumney said that the standard of entries had risen each year and this had been the closest competition yet. He congratulated all the students on reaching the final: ‘Your future is secured, you will complete your studies, and you will grow professionally and personally from this experience.’

Romana commented: ‘I’d highly recommend FORCE. It’s definitely an experience worth having. It opens up so many different options to you. If you’re interested in research you should certainly consider it.’

Nick went on to describe the FORCE final as the highlight of his year: ‘CooperVision recognises that our student optometrists are more than just the practitioners of tomorrow but are future leaders in practice, in science, in teaching and in industry. The investment of visionary companies like CooperVision makes me proud to be a small part of that,’ he said.