Dr. Safal Khanal is an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. He studies mechanisms of emmetropisation, eye growth regulation, and refractive development. He is a clinical fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and holds a therapeutic license from the Alabama Board of Optometry.
Dr. Khanal’s current research interests lie in understanding mehanistic basis of emmetropisation, eye growth regulation and genesis of refractive errors like myopia. The overall goal of his research is to devise optical, pharamacological, and behavioural (environmental) strategies to prevent the onset and slow the progression of childhood myopia. His interests also extend to the advancement of knowledge in the pathophysiological inflammatory mechanisms underlying dry eye disease and in developing novel and clinically applicable high-resolution imaging techniques for the assessment of human precorneal tear film dynamics. In this regard, his long-term goal is to improve the contemporary diagnostic and monitoring approaches in dry eye disease and to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of the disease. Besides dry eye and myopia, Dr. Khanal’s other research interests include defocus detection, ocular imaging and electrophysiology, and glaucoma.
Prior to joining UAB, Dr. Khanal received clinical training in Optometry and Vision Science in Nepal and the Philippines and earned his Bachelor and Doctor of Optometry degrees, before moving to New Zealand to undertake a Ph.D. under Dr. John Phillips at the Auckland Myopia Lab. His Ph.D. work investigated physiological responses of the human eye using advanced imaging (OCT, MRI) and electrophysiological techniques (global flash mfERG), and informed the mechanistic basis of myopia (short-sight). Following completion of his Ph.D., he worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Auckland Myopia Lab to complete an industry-funded project on the ocular effects of a novel spectacle lens design for myopia. In 2019, he joined UAB where he worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Tim Gawne, Dr. Thomas Norton and Dr Jason Nichols on the emmetropisation responses of tree shrews to narrow-band wavelengths and tear film lipids.
Dr. Khanal has published over 20 peer-reviewed original research articles in various areas of Optometry, Ophthalmology, and Vision Science. He holds professional membership in several organizations, including Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, International Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision, and Cornea and Contact Lens Society of New Zealand. He has received a number of scholarships, grants and awards which include Eberhard Dodt Memorial award, Centre for Brain Research Knowledge Exchange grant, Velocity innovation challenge award, and New Zealand Higher Degree Research Write-Up grant, and travel fellowships from American Academy of Optomery, International Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision, Optometry Australia, Asia Pacific Association of Optometry, and World Council of Optometry. He continues to serve as an ad-hoc peer-reviewer for leading journals in the field, including Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, Contact Lens and Anterior Eye, Optometry and Vision Science, Documenta Ophthalmologica, Clinical and Experimental Optometry, Journal of Optometry, BMC Ophthalmology, and Experimental Eye Research.
PhD in Myopia, 2019
University of Auckland
Doctor of Optometry, 2014
Bachelor of Optometry, 2012
This project aims to determine the operating characteristics of the tree shrew emmetropisation system in response to different light spectra.
Cellphone related distracted driving is a growing threat to road safety. This project in collaboration with the University of Auckland aims to investigate whether the use of cellphone in a ‘covert’ lap position while driving affects driving performance or eyegaze behaviour compared to hands-free (positioned on the dashboard) or no cellphone use.
This project aims to investigate the role of (O-acyl)-Omega-Hydroxy Fatty Acids in alterations of human tear film lipid layer as a basis for formulating novel therapeutics for meibomian gland dysfunction.
We reviewed the evidence on the role of accommodation and binocular vision in myopia development and progression.
We investigated the effect of amber lighting on emmetropization responses of juvenile tree shrews.
We investigated OAHFAs derived from human meibum and tear film in meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye disease
This study evaluates tear film and meibum-derived OAHFAs in meibomian gland dysfunction
This study evaluated if emmetropia, achieved in broadband colony lighting, is maintained in narrow-band cyan light that is well focused in the emmetropic eye, but does not allow for guidance from longitudinal chromatic aberrations (LCA) and offers minimal perceptual color cues. In addition, this study examined the response to a −5 D lens in this lighting.
In practice, initiating 0.01% atropine treatment for a child would inevitably delay implementation of an effective dose. This is particularly problematic in the early stages of myopia development when progression is most rapid. Since the sight‐threatening complications of myopia result primarily from excessive tissue stretch, effective slowing of eye growth would significantly ameliorate the risks and consequently help reduce the burden of future sight loss.
This thesis uses advanced imaging and electrophysiology techniques to investigate the in vivo phsiological responses of human retina and choroid to retinal image defocus and improves our understanding the mechanistic basis of myopia.
We investigated the site and mode of action of atropine eye drops and showed that atropine acts in the inner layers of the peripheral retina to affect neuronal responses to myopic defocus.
This study suggests that pre-term infants, even without retinopathy of prematurity, are at risk for abnormal refractive development and informs the need for close monitoring of refractive error in such infants, regardless of their retinopathy of prematurity status.