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Eye Surgeon Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer
Eye Surgeon Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer
Eye Surgeon Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer
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Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer

Specialist Eye Surgeon

MBChB, MD, FRANZCO, Sir William and Lady Stevenson Professor of Ophthalmology

About Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer

Professor Danesh-Meyer is an ophthalmic surgeon and clinician-scientist who divides her time almost equally between patient care activities and research.

In addition to her clinical expertise, Professor Danesh-Meyer specialises in complex glaucoma surgery, and cataract surgery – in particular for glaucoma patients.

Professor Danesh-Meyer sub-specialises in glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology. Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in New Zealand. Her private practice at Eye Institute has the state-of–the art technology for the early diagnosis and management of glaucoma. This includes the Heidelberg Retinal Tomograph and the Cirrus Optical Coherence tomography which allows quantitative mapping of the optic nerve head which is the site of damage in glaucoma. Eye Institute is also the only centre in Auckland which provides Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty, a new laser treatment for the management of glaucoma.

Overview of Prof Danesh-Meyer’s Achievements (click to expand)

Specialist in:

  • Glaucoma Surgery
  • Cataract Surgery


  • University of Otago Medical School
  • Post-graduate professional training in ophthalmology in Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland
  • Fellowship training in glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia

Positions held:

  • Scientific Director to Glaucoma New Zealand
  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of three major pharmaceutical companies – Alcon, Pfiizer, and Allergan
  • Member of the Part II Court of Examiners for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
  • Member of the scientific research board of Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia
  • Chairman of the Save Sight Society Research Committee
  • Neuro-ophthalmology Section Editor of two journals – Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology & the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience
  • Co-editor of the Clinical Challenges Section of the, top-ranked, journal Survey of Ophthalmology
  • Member of the academic staff in the Medical School at the University of Auckland
  • Head of the Optic Nerve and Glaucoma Research Unit of the New Zealand National Eye Centre (NZNEC)
  • W & S Stevenson Professor of Ophthalmology
  • A Director at Eye Institute

Associations & memberships:

  • Fellow – Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists

Prof Danesh-Meyer’s training & experience

Helen Danesh-Meyer attended the University of Otago Medical School graduating in 1991. After completing her post-graduate professional training in ophthalmology in Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland she was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists after achieving the highest marks in both the Part I and Part II Examinations. Thereafter she undertook a further two years of fellowship training in glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.

Professor Danesh-Meyer provides a significant contribution to lecturing undergraduate science, medical and optometry students as well as post-graduate optometry and ophthalmology professional teaching – both nationally and internationally. Helen has also been recognised for her research – receiving numerous awards and research grants, and publishing more than 120 articles.

Helen has also developed several innovative teaching programmes for non-medical professionals and the public. She initiated the development of clinical ophthalmology training for nurses leading to nurse-based ophthalmology clinics both for glaucoma and cataract management within Auckland District Health Boards – a policy now being adopted elsewhere in New Zealand. She has also developed a web-based Continuing Medical Education programme for New Zealand Optometrists which has been successfully providing continuing education for over 250 optometrists (approximately 50% of practicing NZ optometrists) annually for the past four years. As part of her position as Chairman of Glaucoma New Zealand, Helen regularly gives public lectures to educate patients with glaucoma about their disease.

Prof Danesh-Meyer’s Research (click to expand)

Helen was been recognised for her research by receiving numerous awards and research grants. She has published more than 120 articles. Her research has recently been focused in the New Scientist (January 2009) as one of the leading innovators in neuro-ophthalmology research. She has also authored several chapters including the Neuro-ophthalmology section in Albert & Jakobeic (a major reference textbook in ophthalmology). She has co-authored a major textbook in Neuro-ophthalmology published by McGraw-Hill and is presently co-authoring a second textbook, Glaucomatous Optic Neuropathy, to be published by Oxford University Press. Her research interests have also accrued over $1,000,000 in funding from diverse funding bodies including: Health Research Council of New Zealand, Auckland Medical Research Fund and the Save Sight Society of New Zealand.

Helen’s research focus spans both clinical and basic science aspects of optic nerve disease with an emphasis on translational ophthalmology. Her research interests includes giant cell arteritis, ischaemic optic neuropathies, imaging modalities in neuro-ophthalmology, the role of astrocytes in optic neuropathies, and glaucomatous optic neuropathy. Several aspects of her clinical research have influenced and altered clinical management strategies in the international arena, in particular her work on imaging of the retinal nerve fibre layer in chiasmal compression, and the role of the “ice test” in myasthenia gravis. As a neuro-ophthalmologist she pioneered quantitative evaluation of the optic nerve and its morphological changes using optic nerve imaging modalities such as optical coherence tomography, scanning laser ophthalmoscopy and scanning laser polarimetry.

Professor Danesh-Meyer has established glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology research at the University of Auckland and is the Head of the Optic Nerve and Glaucoma Research Unit of the New Zealand National Eye Centre (NZ-NEC). Her Optic Nerve Research Laboratory investigates ischaemic optic neuropathy and mechanisms of injury and repair in a novel rat model. Her team is also evaluating wound modulation in glaucoma filtration surgery in a rabbit model. She has also spear headed collaborative clinical research with the Wilmer Eye Center at Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, the University of Montreal, and has close ties with the University of Melbourne.

Prof Danesh-Meyer’s Community Service (click to expand)

Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer is a founding Trustee of Glaucoma New Zealand, a charitable trust for the prevention of blindness from glaucoma which was established in 2003. She has served as the Managing Trustee since its inception and has recently been appointed the Chairperson of Glaucoma NZ. Glaucoma is a common eye disease of older age that may affect 2-4% of the New Zealand population and which can lead to blindness or severe visual impairment if undiagnosed and untreated. Over the last five years Glaucoma NZ has grown exponentially and developed a membership of over 6000 individuals. Helen regularly contributes to the production of literature for its newsletters, public lectures, educational forums and public awareness campaigns, and has given a number of television and radio interviews promoting glaucoma awareness. She has recently been awarded the Paul Harris Rotary Medal for her contributions to the community – a rare distinction bestowed upon non-Rotarians.

Prof Danesh-Meyer’s specialisms

  • Glaucoma
    Professor Danesh-Meyer specialises in complex glaucoma surgery, including trabeculectomy and tube shunt procedures. Her practice serves as a clinical trial centre for new drugs and innovations in glaucoma, and she has completed immense amounts of research in this field (see above).
  • Cataract Surgery
    Professor Danesh-Meyer specialises in cataract surgery, in particular for glaucoma patients.

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