Following the success of CooperVision’s 2011 scholarship programme, the second CooperVision National Student Summit event held at Delta Park, Hampshire on 12th September 2012. The Summit followed a six week research scholarship sponsored by CooperVision that the top students from the countries key optometric universities participated in.
The scholarship programme was launched by CooperVision in 2011 in order to encourage and support contact lens research with optometry’s future academics, optometrists and thought leaders. Optometric Universities across the country were invited to nominate their top second and third year students to participate in the programme where they were able to conduct a six week research project on a contact lens related topic of their choice.
The successful regional candidates were invited to the CooperVision National Student Summit held at the CooperVision European Headquarters, which included a celebratory evening and accommodation in a four star hotel. Candidates had the opportunity to present their findings and compete for the title of CooperVision’s Student of the Year 2012 and the prize of a full BCLA package with accommodation.
The students competing for this title were Ruchi Gupta from Manchester University, Peter Healy and Darragh Walsh from Dublin Institute of Technology, Jasjot Sal from Aston University, Neha Ghei from City University, Hajra Choudhrey from City University, Shehnsha Lali from Bradford University, Phil Gibson from Cardiff University and Michelle Snowball from Glasgow Caledonian University.
The standard of the research and the presentations was exceptional, and the hour allotted for the judge’s deliberation was filled with debate. The judging panel eventually came to the decision that the worthy winner was Michelle Snowball from Glasgow Caledonian University for her impressive presentation of her project on contact lenses and blink rate. It was felt that Michelle demonstrated competent and professional presentation skills and a thorough approach to her research. As well as winning the title of CooperVision Student of the Year, Michelle also received a full delegate package for the 2013 annual BCLA Exhibition and Conference as well as the opportunity to compete in The EMEA Force.
Michelle is a 3rd year Optometry student at Glasgow Caledonian University and was the winner of the 2012 UK Student of the Year title. Michelle compiled a research project on contact lenses and blink rate for the UK CooperVision Student Scholarship.
Blinking provides a fresh coat of tears to smooth, lubricate and cleanse the corneal surface. This spontaneous activity is vital for both the refractive ability and the health of the eye, and its disruption can cause an array of problems from minor irritation to corneal ulceration. It is well known that contact lenses alter blinking activity  and can result in a change in both blink rate and blink type [2, 3]. A decrease in blink rate may lead to increased lens deposition and lens drying, resulting in a reduction in comfort, quality of vision and wearing time for the lenses.
The purpose of this project is to develop and test a portable blink rate monitor. This self-contained system would then be used to investigate the blink rates of contact lens and non-contact lens wearing subjects in a variety of settings.
 Hamano H, Yasuhara M, Nasu C, et al. Effect of wearing contact lens on blinking. Kaiin Dayori Nippon Kontakuto Renzu Gakkai 1964; 119: 17-22.
 Brown M, Chinn S, Fatt I. The effect of soft and hard contact lenses on blink rate, amplitude and length. J Am Optom Assoc 1973; 44: 254-258.
 Carney LG, Hill RM. Variation in blinking behaviour during soft lens wear. Int Contact Lens Clin 1984; 11: 250-254.