Focusing on improving vision

Drawing attention to patients with keratoconus – an eye condition causing refractive error vision impairment – has enabled Dr Himal Kandel (PhD(HlthSc) ’19) to focus on improving the quality of life for people with serious vision problems.

Since Dr Kandel made the move from Nepal to study at Flinders University in 2015 to obtain his PhD in Optometry and Vision Science, he has quickly established himself as a rising star in clinical research and is now working as a senior postdoctoral researcher at the Save Sight Institute at The University of Sydney.

He has always appreciated the international reach of his work, having performed as a clinician and lecturer in Nepal, the Maldives, Eritrea and Kenya during his years of studying. Now the impact of his efforts to develop his work and his reach with the Save Sight Keratoconus Registry is growing.

This international database for patients with keratoconus is currently used by more than 100 clinicians in seven countries to track and improve patient outcomes in their routine clinical practice. He is especially delighted that the growing database, which now records more than 35,000 clinical visits, has recently included Nepal, where he hopes to eventually return to open an eye hospital.

Dr Kandel says coming to Adelaide to do his PhD at Flinders University had a profound effect on his life and his personal development. After arriving in Adelaide, he got married and had a daughter while working on his PhD, for which he won the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Doctoral Thesis Excellence in 2018.

His drive for excellence is matched by his commitment to the community. In 2017 Dr Kandel ran a patient outreach event on World Sight Day to raise awareness about eye health among Flinders University students, staff and visitors. He also founded the Flinders University Nepalese Students’ Association, which participated in multicultural festivals and events, and raised $2,000 to support Nepalese victims of a devastating earthquake.

For his efforts, Dr Kandel was awarded Study Adelaide’s 2018 International Student of the Year.

“I remember my time in Adelaide as the best time of my life,” says Dr Kandel.

“I had the chance to work with world-renowned experts in my field, and I accomplished many things in a short period. My academic achievements have been made possible because of the resources, opportunities and support from Flinders University.”

Dr Himal Kandel received a 2021 Early Career Alumni Award for his significant contribution to the scientific community in ophthalmology and optometry, and for improving patient outcomes. Read more on the Flinders University Alumni Awards

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