Zahra Tajbakhsh

PhD Candidate

PhD Candidate

Research Title: Corneal and conjunctival epithelial dendritic cells in ocular allergy using in vivo confocal microscopy 

Supervisors: Dr Blanka Golebiowski, Associate Professor Isabelle Jalbert, Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton   

Abstract                              

The prevalence of ocular allergies ranges from 18 to 30% across the world. Ocular allergies result in bothersome symptoms and signs and can have adverse effects on the quality of life of sufferers and carry a significant economic burden for society.

A variety of cells are involved at the ocular surface during allergic eye disease including mast cells, goblet cells and epithelial cells. Dendritic cells (DC) are of crucial importance in determining the allergic response. DC are a subtype of immune cell which play a pivotal role in the ocular surface defence system. They capture and process antigens and migrate from the affected tissue (eg cornea) to the lymph nodes through lymphatic vessels and present antigens to T cells for the initiation of immune response.

The conjunctiva and the cornea are two basic structures of the ocular surface where DC are known to reside. In recent years, the introduction of clinical confocal microscopy has provided an opportunity to observe DC in vivo, in normal and inflamed cornea and conjunctiva. Increased DC density and morphology in diseased eyes can be a sign of inflammation or immune response.

The role of DC in ocular allergy is not well established. Three studies have assessed corneal and conjunctival epithelial DC in the active phase of vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) and all have reported increased density of epithelial DC in the cornea and conjunctiva. However, there is no data about DC during seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis (SAC, PAC). Furthermore, the cornea is the most highly innervated part of the body and its function is important for the maintenance of the integrity of the cornea. Reduced corneal nerve densities have been reported in subjects with severe forms of allergy such as VKC. It has been stated that corneal nerves are affected in mild and moderate cases of ocular allergy including SAC and PAC.

Hence the aim of this research is:

To assess and evaluate the distribution, density and morphology of DC in the corneal and conjunctival epithelium of ocular allergy patients (SAC, PAC, VKC) and compare this to non-allergic healthy patients. The relationship between corneal and conjunctival epithelial DC and corneal nerves in allergic patients and non-allergic healthy patients will be compared.

BIOGRAPHY   

Zahra Tajbakhsh received her BOptom degree from Iran and completed her Master of Science in Optometry in 2012 at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Science, Tehran, Iran. She has been involved actively for a period of ten years in a variety of fields concerning optometry. She was recruited as a Head of Optometry Clinic at the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences and Salouti eye clinic, focusing specifically on keratoconus patients, ocular surface diseases and refractive surgery candidates. She commenced her PhD in 2017 at UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science. Her PhD aims to explore dendritic cells in ocular allergy. 

 

Education 

BOptom, Zahedan University of Medical Science, Zahedan, Iran, 2007 

Master of Science in Optometry, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Science, Tehran, Iran, 2012 

PhD student at School of Optometry and Vision Science, 2017-

 

RECENT PUBLICATIONS 

Journal Articles 

  1. Talebnejad MR, Nowroozzadeh MH, Mahdaviazad H, Khalili MR, Masoumpour MB, Keshtkar M, Mohammadi E, Tajbakhsh Z: The Shiraz pediatric eye study; a population based survey of school age children: Rationale, design and baseline characteristics. Journal of ophthalmic & vision research 2018, 13(3):293. 
  2. Razeghinejad MR, Karampour P, Masoumpour MB, Tajbakhsh Z, Nowroozzadeh MH: Results for Water-drinking Test, before and after Laser Iridotomy, in Primary Angle-closure Suspects. Optometry and Vision Science 2018, 95(2):150-154. 
  3. Salouti R, Nowroozzadeh MH, Tajbakhsh Z, Bagheri M, Ghoreyshi M, Azizzadeh M, Razeghinejad MR: Agreement of corneal diameter measurements obtained by a swept-source biometer and a Scheimpflug-based topographer. Cornea 2017, 36(11):1373-1376. 
  4. Razeghinejad M, Tajbakhsh Z, Nowroozzadeh M: Agreement in central corneal thickness measurements between optical and ultrasound pachymeters in patients with primary congenital glaucoma. Eye 2017, 31(9):1382. 
  5. Razeghinejad MR, Tajbakhsh Z, Nowroozzadeh MH, Masoumpour M: Water drinking test: Intraocular pressure changes after tube surgery and trabeculectomy. Journal of ophthalmic & vision research 2017, 12(4):390. 
  6. Razeghinejad MR, Tajbakhsh Z, Nowroozzadeh MH, Havens SJ, Ghate D, Gulati V: The water-drinking test revisited: an analysis of test results in subjects with glaucoma. In: Seminars in ophthalmology: 2018: Taylor & Francis; 2018: 517-524. 
  7. Nejabat M, Heidary F, Talebnejad MR, Salouti R, Nowroozzadeh MH, Masoumpour M, Mahdaviazad H, Tajbakhsh Z, Keshtkar M, Jamali H: Correlation between intraocular pressure and central corneal thickness in Persian children. Ophthalmology and therapy 2016, 5(2):235-243. 
  8. Tajbakhsh Z, Salouti R, Nowroozzadeh MH, Aghazadeh‐Amiri M, Tabatabaee S, Zamani M: Comparison of keratometry measurements using the P entacam HR, the O rbscan IIz, and the TMS‐4 topographer. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 2012, 32(6):539-546. 

 

AWARDS 

SEMO 2018 in Melbourne, Heidelberg Engineering Travel Award,2018  

TFS scholarship from University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia to study towards PhD,2017 

President of Prevention of Visual Impairment Seminar, Shiraz, Iran, 2014 

 

CONFERENCE ATTENDANCE 

Tajbakhsh Z; Chao C; Mobeen R; Golebiowski B; Stapleton F; Jalbert I, 2019, 'Development of a novel corneal epithelial dendritic cell morphology grading scale', in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Vancouver, Canada, presented at ARVO, Vancouver, Canada, 28 April - 02 May 2019 

Tajbakhsh Z; Kolanu S; Jalbert I; Stapleton F; Golebiowski B, 2018, 'Corneal epithelial dendritic cells density and morphology in ocular allergy', in Corneal epithelial dendritic cells density and morphology in ocular allergy, 15th Scientific and Educators’ Meeting in Optometry, Melbourne, presented at 15th Scientific and Educators Meeting in Optometry, Melbourne, 05 - 06 April 2018 

Razeghinejad MR; Nowroozzadeh MH; Tajbakhsh Z, Ghate D, Havens SJ, Gulati V, 2016, The water drinking test revisited: An analysis of test results in subjects with glaucoma, American glaucoma society 26th annual meeting (AGS), USA, 2016 

Tajbakhsh Z; Keshtkar M; Heidari J, 2014, Massive paediatric eye disease screening among first year school children in Iran, Shiraz Province, The joint meeting of American Association of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus(AAPOS-JAPAN), Japanese Association of Paediatric Ophthalmology(JAPO,39th annual),Japanese Association of Strabismus and Amblyopia(JASA,70th annual), Japan, Kyoto, 2014 

Keshtkar M; Tajbakhsh Z; Heidari J, 2014, Paediatric eye screening program in southern part of Iran, Shiraz Province, The joint meeting of American Association of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus(AAPOS-JAPAN), Japanese Association of Paediatric Ophthalmology(JAPO,39th annual),Japanese Association of Strabismus and Amblyopia(JASA,70th annual), Japan, Kyoto, 2014 

Heidari J; Tajbakhsh Z; Keshtkar M, 2014, Spectacle acceptance rate among school children with refractive error; an experience from Shiraz, southern part of Iran, The joint meeting of American Association of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus(AAPOS-JAPAN), Japanese Association of Paediatric Ophthalmology(JAPO,39th annual),Japanese Association of Strabismus and Amblyopia(JASA,70th annual), Japan, Kyoto, 2014 

 

AFFILIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS 

Student member of Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, ARVO 

Student member of Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia   

Board member of Fars Optometry Association, Shiraz, Iran 2012 – 2017 

Membership of Iran Optometry Association, Tehran, Iran 

Membership of Fars Optometry Association, Shiraz, Iran