Dr Phil Turnbull

B Optom (Hons), PhD


I am a senior lecturer and registered optometrist in the School of Optometry and Vision Science. I graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Optometry (Hons), leaving to work in private practice in Christchurch for two years, before returning to undertake a PhD with Dr John Phillips investigating emmetropisation in squid. Following completion of my PhD, I worked as a contact lens specialist in the University Eye Clinic, co-founding the Myopia Control Clinic, a translational research clinic promoting the latest myopia control research to the public. Following this, I undertook a joint postdoctoral fellowship under Professor Steven Dakin and Dr Phillips, combining myopia research with objective measures of vision.

As an educator, I teach and examine both undergraduate and postgraduate optometry students. I am the course director of the OPTOM216 – Introduction to Optometry course. I also teach statistics and research skills as part of the OPTOM783 – Research Project in Vision Science course. Each year I supervise numerous Honours students, and currently supervise four PhD students, all in the field of eye tracking and technology. 

My current research investigates utilising technology to assess visual function, including virtual reality, infrared eyetracking, arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging (ASL-MRI), and multifocal electroretinograms (mf-ERG). The aim is to create objective measures of visual function for conditions such as myopia, binocular vision disorders, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration.

For service, I serve as an Expert Witness in criminal cases, where there are questions regarding visual function or performance, and work as the Professional Standards Advisor to the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board (ODOB) for matters of clinical competency and assurance of public safety. 

Research | Current

Research interests: emmetropisation, myopia progression, cephalopod vision, virtual reality, eye-tracking, ASL-MRI, mf-ERG

Teaching | Current

Course Director and Coordinator: OPTOM 216 - Introduction to Optometry

Project Supervisor: OPTOM 783 - Research Project in Vision Science

Clinical Examiner: OPTOM510, OPTOM520, and OPTOM560 

Journal Club Supervisor: OPTOM375 - Visual Science 2

Postgraduate supervision


Dr Samuel Chiang. The effect of optical defocus on choroidal thickness.

Dr Safal Khanal. The effect of changes in choroidal perfusion on visual function. 



Main Supervisor: Jasmine Zoest. Measurement of eye movements in three-dimensional space.

Main Supervisor: Alice Cade. Eye movements and postural stability following traumatic brain injury.

Co-Supervisor: Soheil Doustkouhi. Development of objective techniques of the optometric examination.

Co-Supervisor: Aryaman Taore. Developing Eye Tracking Technology using a mobile device for the use of optokinectic assessment

Advisor: Rebecca Findlay. Visual function and learning in children.


Committees/Professional groups/Services

Member of the New Zealand Association of Optometrists.

Professional Standards Advisor to the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board. 

Associate Editor of Clinical and Experimental Optometry.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Watters, G. A., Turnbull, P. R., Swift, S., Petty, A., & Craig, J. P. (2017). Ocular surface microbiome in meibomian gland dysfunction. Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, 45 (2), 105-111. 10.1111/ceo.12810
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Craig, Simon Swift, Grant Watters
  • Turnbull, P. R. K., Irani, N., Lim, N., & Phillips, J. R. (2017). Origins of Pupillary Hippus in the Autonomic Nervous System. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 58 (1), 197-203. 10.1167/iovs.16-20785
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Phillips
  • Turnbull, P. R. K., Munro, O. J., & Phillips, J. R. (2016). Contact Lens Methods for Clinical Myopia Control. Optometry and Vision Science, 93 (9), 1120-1126. 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000957
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Phillips
  • Turnbull, P. R., Backhouse, S., & Phillips, J. R. (2015). Visually guided eye growth in the squid. Current Biology, 25 (18), R791-R792. 10.1016/j.cub.2015.07.073
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Phillips
  • Craig, J. P., Chen, Y. H., & Turnbull, P. R. K. (2015). Prospective trial of intense pulsed light for the treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 56 (3), 1965-1970. 10.1167/iovs.14-15764
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Craig


Contact details

Office hours

Mon - Fri 8:30 - 17:30

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 503 - Bldg 503
Level 3, Room 351
New Zealand

Social links

Web links