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 an institutional 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.


  • Animal and human myopia
  • Myopia interventions
  • Emmetropisation
  • Dry eyes
  • Visual electrophysiology
  • Ocular imaging
  • Glaucoma


  • PhD in Myopia, 2019

    University of Auckland

  • Doctor of Optometry, 2014

    Southwestern University

  • Bachelor of Optometry, 2012

    Tribhuvan University