Department Of Vision Sciences

E. Eugenie Hartmann, Ph.D.

Professor, Vision Sciences

Contact Information:
Academic Office - (205) 975-3143

Physical Address:
504 Henry Peters Building
1716 University Boulevard

Mailing Address:
HPB 504
1530 Third Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294-0010


Biographical Sketch:

A.B.  Psychology; Oberline College; Oberlin, Ohio
M.A.  Psychology; Claremont Graduate School; Claremont, California
Ph.D.  Applied Bio-Psychology; University of New Orleans; New Orleans, Louisiana
Post-Doctoral Fellow Ophthalmology and Psychology; University of Washington; Seattle, Washington

Administrative Responsibilities:

Program Committee, Strabismus and Amblyopia Section; International Conference on Eye Research

Secondary Appointments:

Professor, Department of Vision Sciences, School of Optometry
Professor, Department of Psychology, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Professor, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine
Scientist, Vision Science Research Center

Professional Memberships

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
International Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision
International Society for Eye Research
Vision Sciences Society


My professional training and career have led me to numerous unique and exotic parts of this country. Who would have thought that I, an honorary member of the James G. Blaine Society, died in the wool Oregonian (with webbed-feet to prove it), would spend 6 years in the heart of New York City's upper Eastside and develop a keen fancy for THE City? Then ultimately find a home in Birmingham, Alabama? The astounding resources available on this campus have nourished the passion, excitement and commitment intrinsic to my character, that are so much a part of the learning and labor of research. I am genuinely delighted to be a member of the UABSO family.
My fervor for work readily extends to the challenges of raising my son, Colin, as a Single-Mother-By-Choice. Although, as a native New Yorker, he still finds comfort in the presence of buildings (in contrast to "nature"), he has indeed adopted Alabama as his stomping ground. Imagine my astonishment and delight, listening to him belt out "Sweet Home Alabama!" on our return from a short sojourn! So, watch out, Bama, we're here!!

Scholarly Activity:

Microscopic Anatomy and Tissue Biology 2007
     Course Masters - Dr. Gerald M. Fuller and Dr. Laura F. Cotlin
     Lecture title: Structure-Function in Clinical Electrodiagnostics
VS 123: Psychophysical Assessment of Visual Function - 
     Course Master - Dr. Thomas Norton
     Lecture title: Infant Visual Development
VS 121:Neurobiology of the Visual System 
     Course Master - Timothy Gawne, PhD
     Lecture title: Electrophysiological Testing: Visual Evoked Potential

IATS is presently entering its 5th year of funding and has received administrative approval for an additional 5 years of funding (yes, 10 total!) so that we can obtain follow-up data from our patients when they are 4 to 5 year of age. For information on the IATS Study click here.

Dr. Hartmann has recently completed a study on the "Effect of Supplemented Infant Formula on Blood Levels in Preterm Infants." This project was coordinated through the Department of Neonatology (Dr. Reed Dimmitt, PI) and sponsored by Ross Laboratories. Dr. Hartmann conducted ERG and behavioral acuity testing on all infants enrolled at UAB at 10 weeks corrected age. These data will be combined with those from two other sites and are the only functional outcome measures from this study.

Dr. Hartmann's expertise in VEP testing and her professional relationship with Drs. George Hu and Vance Zemon led to her selection as PI for one of the three clinical sites for an SBIR Phase II Grant funded by NEI: Instrument for Glaucoma Early Detection and Monitoring. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Leo Semes. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. It produces a gradual and progressive degeneration of retinal ganglion cells, which transmit visual information along the optic nerve to the brain. Unfortunately, by the time this glaucomatous neuropathy is detected, there is typically extensive and permanent damage to the visual system accompanied by profound loss in visual function. Presently, there is a paucity of screening and diagnostic tools available to vision professionals that can aid in the early detection of this disease or in the monitoring of treatments for the purpose of neuroprotection. There is evidence to indicate that select pathways of the visual system are affected in an early stage of the disease.

The long-term goals of this project are to provide vision professionals with an objective, efficient, and user-friendly instrument that will aid in the following tasks:
1) Detection of visual deficits as early in the disease process of glaucoma as possible
2) Monitoring of visual function quantitatively over time
3) Assessment of the efficacy of neuroprotective treatments for glaucoma

The specific aims are to design a clinical electrophysiological device with the following features:
1) Stimulus presentations that drive selectively the parallel pathways known to be affected in the early stages of glaucomatous neuropathy, and that are short in duration to suit clinical usage
2) Data analysis to extract the dominant frequency component of the responses and application of multivariate statistics to automatically reject corrupted signals, rigorously quantify the noise level in the recording and to derive an objective measure of signal-to-noise known to reveal deficits in patients with glaucoma and glaucoma suspects
3) Eye movement monitoring to ensure collection of valid data
4) Windows-based graphical user interface for simplified operation by non-expert assistants
The other two sites for this work are the Department of Ophthalmology at Yale University (James Tsai, MD) and Department of Ophthalmology at University of Tennessee, Memphis (Peter Netland, MD). Sixty patients will be enrolled at each site.

Dr. Hartmann is a Co-Investigator with Dr. Leo Semes (PI) on a study sponsored by ZeaVision: "A prospective randomized double-blind evaluation of zeaxanthine as an oral supplement and its effects on macular pigment optical density and dark adaptation." The study design is a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled intervention study that will evaluate whether macular pigment augmentation improves the speed of dark adaptation.

Dr. Hartmann, in conjunction with Dr. Kent Keyser, Director of the Vision Science Research Center, has recently launched into a new realm of "translational" research. Specifically, Drs. Hartmann and Keyser are jointly supervising Ms. Stefanie Varghese, a Vision Science graduate student with her studies on the: "Effects of Nicotine on the Adult Electroretinogram (ERG)." They have been exposing subjects to 2 and 4 mg of nicotine, delivered via nicotine gum. Their work is, to the best of their knowledge, the first demonstration of the effect of nicotine on retinal information processing in humans. Their findings are consistent with animal studies that have identified α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on ON-cone bipolar cells. In addition, their data corroborate previous studies of the effects of cholinergic agonists on ERG responses in cat and the effects of smoking on ERG responses in humans.

Dr. Hartmann has recently initiated a collaborative partnership with two professors from the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) Center for Laser Applications (CLA). Drs. Jim Lewis and Ying-Ling Chen have extensive experience in laser diagnostics, vision science, and optical computation. They are the inventors of the Digital Adaptive Binocular Screener (DABS) and hold a patent through UT, Adaptive Photoscreening, US 11/338,083, filed Jan. 2006. In the past few years, Drs. Lewis and Chen have developed extensive eye modeling capabilities and automated photo-refraction interpretation software to analyze digital photoscreening images. The objective of our collaboration is to validate the ability of the DABS to detect vision problems, specifically farsightedness and nearsightedness. The long-term goals of this project are to provide vision professionals as well as lay personnel with a user-friendly and effective photoscreener that will aid in the following tasks: 1) Detection of specific visual problems; and 2) Large volume of screening in clinics and school systems.

Additional Information:

Have you ever wondered when a baby can see the rain?

The visual system is a marvelous tool that most people take very much for granted, yet would never want to lose. Adults may be aware of changes in their visual processing abilities and are certainly able to verbalize their observations. Infants and young children, as well as non-verbal individuals can tell us what's happening as well - we just need to ask them in the right way!

My undergraduate and graduate training was an integration of Developmental and Experimental Psychology which merged into the realm of Vision Sciences. Ultimately, I morphed into a "Baby Vision Person/Scientist," which means I am a long-standing attendee of the Baby Party at ARVO (aka Infant Vision Social). My research programs are driven by a curiosity about how the developing brain learns to accurately process and interpret sensory input from the visual system. I have participated in the development and validation of behavioral as well as electrophysiological protocols to quantify visual processing in young infants. My experience includes clinical as well as basic research applications of a wide range of techniques and protocols.

Most recently I have identified an outlet for my commitment to applying our research findings on the development of visual sensory processing: Vision Screening in Preschool Children. My involvement in this arena includes participating at national levels with governmental agencies to evaluate the implications of studies in vision sciences with regard to the need for early identification of vision problems in preschool children and the application of clinical protocols for improvement of early referrals, as well as the participating in studies to develop a new vision screening device.

A child is NEVER too young to have her vision evaluated!

Recent Publications:

Hartmann, E.E., Bradford, G.E., Nottingham Chaplin, P.K., Johnson, T., Kemper, A.R., Kim, S., Marsh-Tootle, W. Project Universal Preschool Vision Screening: A Demonstration Project. Pediatrics, 2006; 117(2):e226-37.

O'Connor, D. L., Jacobs, J., Hall, R., Adamkin, D., Auestad, N., Castillo, M., Connor, W.E., Connor, S.L., Fitzgerald, K. Groh-Wargo, S., Hartmann, E.E., Janowsky, J., Lucas, A., Margeson, D., Mena, P., Neuringer, Ross, G., Singer, L., Stephenson, T., Szabo, J, Zemon, V. (2003). Growth and development of premature infants fed predominantly human milk, predominantly premature infant formula or a combination of human milk and premature formula at least until term corrected age. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. Oct;37(4):437-46.

Shallo-Hoffmann J., Coulter R.A., Hartmann E.E., Hardigan P., Blavo C. (in review). A double-blind pre-school vision screening: preliminary findings. Neuro-ophthalmology.

O'Connor, D. L., Hall, R., Adamkin, D., Auestad, N., Castillo, M., Connor, W.E., Connor, S.L., Fitzgerald, K. Groh-Wargo, S., Hartmann, E.E., Jacobs, J., Janowsky, J., Lucas, A., Margeson, D., Mena, P., Neuringer, M., Nesin, M., Singer, L., Stephenson, T., Szabo, J, Zemon, V. (2001). Growth and development in preterm infants fed long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids: A prospective randomized control trial. Pediatrics, 108, (2), 359-371.

Hartmann, E.E., Dobson, V., Hainline, L., Marsh-Tootle, W., Quinn, G.E., Ruttum, M.S., Schmidt, P.P. & Simons, K. (2001). Preschool vision screening: summary of a task force report. Ophthalmology. Mar;108(3):479-86.

Dr Jillian Meadows presents her research during the VSGP Student Seminar Series
Sponsored by the UAB VSRC, the Helen Keller Art show honors students with visual impairments for their artistic abilities and creative works.
Vision Science PhD trainee Katie Bales presents her research during the VSGP Student Seminar Series


UAB School of Optometry
1716 University Blvd
Birmingham, AL 35233
P: (205) 975-2020



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