OPTM3101 Science of the Eye and Visual System 1

12 points
(see Timetable)

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
In this unit, students will gain a broad foundation in the geometric, physical and ophthalmic optics that underpin the practice of optometry, with the use of problem-based learning approach. In addition students will gain knowledge to the fast changing nature of occupational optics. These principles of optics will provide the necessary basis of higher levels of study relating to ophthalmic dispensing, contact lenses, low vision and eye examination techniques.

Specific topics to be addressed in this unit include:

- the physical nature of light, colour, reflection, refraction, plane and curved mirrors, thin and thick lenses, ray tracing, telescopes, microscopes, aberrations, polarisation, diffraction, modern optical systems and applications;

- fundamental research findings contributing to our current understanding of the visual pathway, visual acuity, colour discrimination, binocular vision, the visual field, drug and diet effects on vision, retinal processing of luminance, hue and saturation;

- the scientific principles and concepts underline geometric and physical optics applicable to the human eye;

- the principles of optical physics with respect to the study of the eye;

- simple and common optometric conditions particularly those associated with developmental and refractive disorders of vision.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of various aspects of optical science as applied within optometry, medicine and science.; (2) describe the scientific principles and concepts underlying various visual processes.; (3) apply, within a team, attained knowledge in the solution of applied problems of the visual system.; and (4) describe the pathological basis associated with some simple and common optometric conditions..
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) test; (2) ongoing assessments; (3) final examination; (4) communication assessments; and (5) written assessments. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is available for those students who obtain a mark of 45 to 49 inclusive in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Khyber Alam
Unit rules
Enrolment in the Doctor of Optometry 91590
96 points including the completion of all level 1 and 2 units in the major in Vision Science (MJD – VISSC).
OPTM3102 Principles of Optometry 1
Contact hours
Practical Workshop and problem-based learning tutorials up to 75 hours.
Lectures and seminars up to 75 hours.

Forrester J, et al. The eye: basic sciences in practice. Saunders. 4th edition.

Atchison D, Smith D. Optics of the human eye. Elsevier Health Science. 2000.

Keating, M, Geometric, physical and visual optics. New Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, current edition


  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
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  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.