Dr Hannah Maree Kersten

BOptom (Hons), PhD (Auckland)


Hannah completed her Bachelor of Optometry (with first class honours) in 2008. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, Hannah worked in a busy private optometric practice in Wellington, New Zealand, with a focus on eye health. After two years in community optometry, Hannah returned to the University of Auckland as a junior optic nerve research fellow, working under the supervision of Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer in the Department of Ophthalmology.

Hannah commenced her doctoral studies in 2012, supervised by Professor Danesh-Meyer and Dr Richard Roxburgh of the Department of Neurology at Auckland City Hospital. The topic of her thesis was Optical Coherence Tomography in Neurodegenerative Disease. Hannah investigated the optic nerve and the retina, and the potential role of ophthalmic changes as biomarkers of disease progression, in a number of neurodegenerative conditions including muscular dystrophies, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease and ataxias. 

From 2016 - 2017, following the completion of her PhD thesis, Hannah held a joint appointment between the School of Optometry and Vision Science and the Department of Ophthalmology. Since December 2017, Hannah has held a lecturer position in the School of Optometry and Vision Science. Hannah continues to work in private practice, with a special interest in glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmic disorders. 

Research | Current

Hannah's primary area of research interest is investigating the eye as a window to the brain: What are the ocular manifestations of neurodegenerative disorders, and can these changes in the eye act a surrogate marker of how disease is progressing? It is important to identify biomarkers of disease progression, particularly as novel treatment agents are currently being developed. 

Hannah is also involved in glaucoma research, including objective eye movement testing in glaucoma and systemic capillary changes in primary open angle glaucoma. 

Teaching | Current

Optom 216 - Introduction to Clinical Optometry 

Optom 353 - Ocular Pathology - Course Coordinator 

Optom 472 - Visual Science 3

Optom 510 - Advanced Clinical Optometry 1 

Optom 570 - Research in Advanced Optometric Science 



2017             Auckland Medical Research Association Travel Grant

2017             Univerisity of Auckland Faculty Research Development Fund New Staff Grant 

2016             Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Travel Grant 

2015             European Ophthalmological Society Travel Grant 

2015             Invited speaker, Muscular Dystrophy Association of NZ, 'Life without limits' Conference 

2012 - 2015   University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship

2012 - 2013   H.C Russell Memorial Scholarship

2012             Neuromuscular Research Foundation Trust Scholarship

2008             Senior Prize in Optometry for first in class

2006             Annual Prize in Optometry

2004             Federation of University Graduate Women Scholarship 

Committees/Professional groups/Services

2017 - Present          Trustee, Glaucoma New Zealand 

2016 - 2017              Member, Local Organising Committee, Retina International World Congress

2016                         Member, Organising Committee, Inaugural Glaucoma New Zealand Symposium 

2014 - present          Authorised glaucoma medications prescriber

2009 - Present          Member, New Zealand Association of Optometrists

2009 - 2011              Member, Cornea and Contact Lens Society New Zealand 

2009                        Certified secondary grader of diabetic retinopathy, CCDHB

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

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