Alexandra Benavente-Perez, PhD

Associate Clinical Professor
Biological and Vision Sciences


Alexandra Benavente received her degree in Optometry and Optics from the College of Science and Medicine in Valladolid, Spain; MS in Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science from the University of Manchester, UK; and PhD in Vision Science from Aston University, Birmingham, UK. During her first years at SUNY, Dr. Benavente was a Research Associate funded through the SUNY Research Foundation and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the college. She later took the position of Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Clinical Education, followed by Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. She is the Principal Investigator of her federally and industry-funded research lab, focused on identifying the mechanisms that lead to myopia and associated blinding consequences. She has been a part of the clinical research effort at the college through the Clinical Vision Research Center from its creation in 2013, where she has been Principal Investigator in a multi-center research study and sub-Investigator in more than 20 clinical studies. Since joining SUNY Optometry, Sandra has published 28 peer-reviewed research papers, 2 book chapters and over 85 conference abstracts on her doctoral research, work on experimental myopia models and ongoing multidisciplinary collaborations. She has served as Chair of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting Program Committee (Anatomy section), and is an appointed member of the Scientific Committees of the American Academy of Optometry, and International Myopia Conference. She has received the Josh Wallman Memorial Award/Zeiss Young Scientist Award in Myopia Research at the International Myopia Conference, and the American Academy of Optometry Professional Career Development Award.


  • Principal Investigator. NIH R01 EY034086. Myopia and Glaucoma, linked via Mechanotransduction Mechanisms Affecting the Ganglion Cell Complex (July 2023-July 2027)
  • Co-Investigator. NIH R01 EY033824. Molecular Mechanisms of Emmetropization and Experimental Myopia at Single Cell Resolution (Sep.2022-Sep 2026). PI: David Troilo PhD
  • Principal Investigator. American Academy of Optometry: Career Development Award. Development of a Novel Model of Progressive Myopia (Jan 2019-Jan 2021).
  • Mentor/Host. Fulbright Fellowship awarded to Dr. Dimitra Makrynioti. Fighting dry eye syndrome in high myopia with novel contact lens materials (Oct 2019- 2020).
  • Principal Investigator. Schnurmacher Institute for Vision Research. Effects of low dose atropine on choroidal thickness (May 2018-May 2019).
  • Co-Investigator. Paracelsus Medical University Rise Project. Ultrastructural Analysis of the Choroid-Sclera Interface. PI: Falk Schroedl (June 2017- June 2018).
  • Consultant. Singapore Eye Research Institute & Johnson & Johnson Vision: Star-Janssen Grant. Light and outdoor patterns for the prevention of myopia. PI: Seang Mei Saw (Jan. 2018- 2023)
  • Mentor/Host. American Optometric Foundation Jill and George Mertz Fellowship awarded to Dr. Pauline Kang. Temporal characteristics of simultaneous foveal correction and peripheral myopic defocus (2016).
  • Principal Investigator. Johnson & Johnson Vision. Myopia Development and Novel Contact Lens Designs. (Dec. 2012- Dec. 2017)
  • Principal Investigator. Schnurmacher Institute for Vision Research. Use of a Modified CISS to Assess Symptoms in Patients with Accommodative Dysfunction (multi-centered study) (May 2013-May 2015).
  • Consultant. NEI-R21 EY023720. Modulating Ocular/Retinal Blood Flow and Visual Function in Retinitis Pigmentosa. (Sep. 2013-Sep. 2014). PI: Ava Bittner OD PhD FAAO. Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute
  • Post-doctoral Research Associate. NIH R01 EY11228: Accommodation and the Development of Refractive Error (Feb. 2009-March 2013). PI: David Troilo PhD


  • PhD, Visual Neuroscience, Aston University,
  • MS, Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology,
  • OD, Optometry and Optics, School of Medicine and Sciences, Universidad de Valladolid. Spain,

Residency/Other Post Graduate Training

  • Spatial and temporal properties of defocus integration for refractive and eye growth control - SUNY College of Optometry, 2012
  • Ocular vascular performance in myopia - City University, 2009
  • The vascular relationship between glaucoma and alzheimer’s disease - Aston University, 2009


  • Josh Wallman Memorial Award/Zeiss Young Scientist Award in Myopia Research , 2017
  • ARVO Leadership Development Program for Women, 2016
  • Sek-Jin Chew Myopia Travel Award , 2012
  • International Travel Award, 2009
  • Research Presentation Award, 2008
  • Travel Award, 2007
  • Travel Award, 2005

Professional Experience

  • Associate Clinical Professor, SUNY College of Optometry, 2017 - Present
  • Assistant Clinical Professor, SUNY College of Optometry, 2012 - 2017
  • Post-Doctoral Research Associate, SUNY College of Optometry, 2009 - 2012
  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Aston University, 2007 - 2009
  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, City University, 2007 - 2009
  • Principal Optometrist, Private Practice in the UK, 2005 - 2009
  • Optometrist, Private Practice in Spain, 2000 - 2002

Teaching Interests

Clinical skills
Evidence-based clinical practice
Cultural competence
Research methods
Experimental models

Courses Taught Most Recent Academic Year

ELC 560
Spanish for Optometrists

Research Interests

From experimental studies, we know that eyes use visual information to adjust their growth and refractive state. My two main lines of research study myopia, in particular 1) cues involved in myopia development, and 2) the development of myopia-associated pathological conditions. The structural characteristics of a myopic eye include an elongated vitreous chamber, which in high myopia is related to a stretched and progressively thinned retina. The myopic elongation increases the risk of retinal changes and ocular diseases including glaucoma, macular degeneration, and choroiditis, among others. This is of significant clinical importance because degenerative myopia is a leading cause of blindness. Our lab has found that the timing and duration of imposed defocus across the retina is important and influences eye growth and refractive development. Brief daily interruption periods to negative defocus prevent myopia development, but once the eye starts to compensate, the same brief interruptions are not enough to slow myopia progression. In addition, interactions between the refractive asymmetry of the peripheral retina and the visual defocus experienced may be associated with eye growth, suggesting that peripheral refraction is a factor in the progression of myopia, and can offer a means to control it. In addition, we have evidence of inner retinal thinning, and an altered astrocyte, ganglion and vasculature cell template in moderate myopic eyes with no degeneration. We hypothesize that these early anatomical and functional changes in both experimental animal and human eyes may be early indicators of the development of posterior pole complications associated with myopia progression. The ultimate goal of my research is to identify the mechanisms that lead to myopia and its associated blinding consequences with the aim to develop preventive and interventional strategies and preserve sight.

Clinical Interests

Primary care
Myopia control


  • A Robust Microbead Occlusion Model of Glaucoma for the Common Marmoset, Transl Vis Sci Technol 11 (1): 14 14, 2022
  • Myopia Alters the Structural Organization of the Retinal Vasculature, GFAP-Positive Glia, and Ganglion Cell Layer Thickness, International Journal of Molecular Sciences 23 (11): 6202 6202, 2022
  • Temporal properties of positive and negative defocus on emmetropization, Nature Scientific Reports 12 3582 3582, 2022
  • The choroid-sclera interface: an ultrastructural study, Heliyon 10(5) (8): e09408 e09408, 2022
  • Optical mechanisms regulating emmetropization and refractive errors: evidence from animal models, Clin Exp Optom 103 (1): 55-67 55-67, 2019
  • Short Interruptions of Imposed Hyperopic Defocus Earlier in Treatment are More Effective at Preventing Myopia Development, Nature Scientific Reports 9 (1): 11459 11459,
  • International Myopia Institute (IMI) - Clinical Myopia Control Trials and Instrumentation report, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 60 (3): M132-M160 M132-M160,
  • Gene expression in response to optical defocus of opposite signs reveals bidirectional mechanism of visually guided eye growth, PLOS Biology 16 (10): e2006021 e2006021, 2018
  • Axial Eye Growth and Refractive Error Development Can Be Modified by Exposing the Peripheral Retina to Relative Myopic or Hyperopic Defocus, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55 (10): 6765-73 6765-73, 2014
  • Retinal vascular dysfunction relates to cognitive impairment in Alzheimer disease, Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord 28 (4): 366 366,
  • Primary open-angle glaucoma vs normal-tension glaucoma: the vascular perspective, JAMA Ophthalmol 131 (1): 36 36, 2013
  • Coexistence of macro- and micro-vascular abnormalities in newly diagnosed normal tension glaucoma patients, Acta Ophthalmol 90 (7): e553 e553,
  • The effect of simultaneous negative and positive defocus on eye growth and development of refractive state in marmosets., Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 53 (10): 6479-87 6479-87, 2012
  • Ocular Blood Flow Measurements In Healthy Human Myopic Eyes, Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 248 (11): 1587-94 1587-94, 2010
  • Ocular blood-flow hemodynamics before and after application of a laser in situ keratomileusis ring , J Cataract Refract Surg 36 (2): 268 268, 2010
  • Reproducibility-Repeatability of Choroidal Thickness Calculation Using OCT, Optom Vis Sci 87 (11): 867-72 867-72, 2010


  • Multifocal Contact Lenses for Digital Eyestrain: A Double-Masked, Randomized, Crossover Clinical Trial, 2019
  • Comparison of Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer (RNFL) Parameters Derived from Two Different Methods of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) Scan Alignment., 2016
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