Andrew D. Pucker headshot.

Assistant Professor

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(205) 975-9938
Office location: HPB 527

Teaching/research interests: Myopia development, contact lenses, and dry eye related conditions

Office hours: By appointment

Education:  

  • BS, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Cellular & Molecular Biology
  • OD, The Ohio State University
  • MS, The Ohio State University, Vision Science
  • PhD, The Ohio State University, Vision Science

Dr. Pucker earned his OD, MS, and PhD degrees from The Ohio State University, and he is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Pucker is the Principal Investigator of a National Eye Institute funded project related to myopia development, and he manages numerous other projects related to refractive error, dry eye, and contact lenses. Dr. Pucker is a Contributing Editor for Contact Lens Spectrum and Contact Lenses Today, a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, an invited reviewer for several peer-reviewed research journals, and the winner of numerous research and leadership awards, which includes two William C. Ezell Fellowships and Ohio State’s Outstanding Professional Student award. Dr. Pucker has also been recognized by the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research as an Emerging Vision Scientist. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, home brewing, and spending time with his family.

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Research interests:

Myopia Development

Myopia, commonly referred to as nearsightedness, typically results from the eye being too long for its optical components, and this mismatch causes the affected individual to see blur while viewing distant objects. Myopic blur can be corrected with spectacles, contact lenses, or refractive surgery, yet there is currently no cure for myopia. While it is relatively easy to correct myopia’s visual effects, myopia affects about 33% of the United States, and myopia treatments costs the United States about $4 billion each year. Myopic patients also have the added risk of being more likely to developing vision-threatening conditions like retinal detachments, glaucoma, and cataracts. Decreasing myopia’s cost and preventing these ocular conditions would greatly benefit society, yet this goal cannot be achieved until we have a better understanding of myopia’s underlying mechanism(s).

Dr. Pucker’s laboratory believes that mechanically induced signaling could be a major pathways leading to myopia development. Specifically, the central hypothesis of Dr. Pucker’s laboratory is that the enlarged myopic eye places mechanical stress on the ciliary muscle (focusing muscle), which triggers specific biochemical pathways (mechanotransduction) leading to muscle hypertrophy, altered eye shape, and accelerated axial elongation. This theory is based upon a number of accepted results: (1) myopic children have increased accommodative lag, (2) myopic children have higher accommodative convergence to accommodation (AC/A) ratios compared to emmetropes (normal patients), (3) the crystalline lens of myopic subjects stops its emmetropia-promoting thinning, flattening, and loss of power at the time of myopia onset (about age 10), (4) the pre-myopic eye has a relatively more prolate, axially longer shape, and (5) myopic adults and children have thicker ciliary muscles/bodies than hyperopic subjects. Therefore, the primary objective of Dr. Pucker’s laboratory is to (1) characterize how ciliary muscle gene changes are associated with eye growth and to (2) better characterize how ciliary muscle morphology is related to eye shape and myopia development. Overall, it is hoped that this knowledge will lead to targeted treatment or prevention strategies for myopia and other ciliary muscle related conditions like glaucoma.

Contact Lens Dry Eye

Contact lenses are a primary means for correcting myopia, and multifocal and orthokeratology contact lenses are even becoming accepted treatments for reducing myopia progression. While contact lenses are highly beneficial for many myopic patients, some patients are forced to discontinue contact lens use because of eye dryness and discomfort. Dr. Pucker’s laboratory believes that meibomian gland (eyelid glands that primarily produce lipids) dysfunction is a primary source of this contact lens discomfort and dropout. Therefore, another goal of Dr. Pucker’s laboratory is to (1) understand how altered meibomian morphology is associated with contact lens discomfort and (2) to understand how altered meibomian gland secretions are associated with eye discomfort.

Recent courses taught:

  • Clinic Chief - Myopia Control and Specialty Contact Lens Clinic: Clinic 335
  • Course Master - Ocular Microbiology and Immunology: Optometry 228
  • Guest Lecturer - Basic Science and Clinical Optometry: Optometry & Vision Science 111
  • Clinical Attending - Cornea and Contact Lens Clinic: Clinic 412

Select publications:

Selected Myopia Publications

  • Pucker AD, Jackson AR, Morris HJ, Fischer AJ, McHugh KM, Mutti DO. Ciliary Muscle Cell Changes During Guinea Pig Development. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015; 56:7691-7696.
  • Pucker AD, Carpenter AR, McHugh KM, Mutti DO. Ciliary Muscle Development in Guinea Pigs. Optom Vis Sci. 2014; 91:730-739.
  • Pucker AD, Sinnott LT, Kao CY, Bailey MD. Region-Specific Relationships Between Refractive Error and Ciliary Muscle Thickness in Children. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013; 54:4710-4716.

Selected Contact Lens & Dry Eye Publications

  • Pucker AD, Jones-Jordan LA, Li W, Kwan JT, Lin MC, Sickenberger W, Marx S, Srinivasan S, Jones L. Associations with Meibomian Gland Atrophy in Daily Contact Lens Wearers. Optom Vis Sci. 2015 (Feature Issue on Dry Eye Disease); 92: e206-213.
  • Pucker AD, Nichols JJ. Analysis of Meibum and Tear Lipids: Review. Ocul Surf. 2012; 10:230-50.
  • Pucker AD, Thangavelu M, Nichols JJ. Enzymatic Quantification of Cholesterol and Cholesterol Esters from Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010; 51:2949-2954.

Academic distinctions and professional societies:  

Honors

  • 2002 Outstanding Student Achievement in Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac
  • 2008 – 2011 Member, Beta Sigma Kappa International Honor Society
  • 2010 Carl Zeiss Vision Fellowship, American Optometric Foundation
  • 2011 Fellow, American Academy of Optometry
  • 2011 – 2012 Arene T. Wray Fellowship, The Ohio State University
  • 2011 – 2012 William C. Ezell Fellowship, American Optometric Foundation
  • 2011 Vincent J. Ellerbrock Memorial Award, The Ohio State University
  • 2011 Outstanding Professional Student Award, The Ohio State University
  • 2012 – 2018 Loan Repayment Program, National Institutes of Health
  • 2012 – 2013 William C. Ezell Fellowship, American Optometric Foundation
  • 2013 – 2014 Fellowship, Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation
  • 2013 – 2014 Arene T. Wray Fellowship, The Ohio State University
  • 2016 Emerging Vision Scientist, Alliance for Eye and Vision Research

Professional affiliations/organizations

  • Alabama Optometric Association
  • Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society
  • Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
  • American Academy of Optometry
  • Ohio Optometric Association
  • American Optometric Association

UAB/Area student groups you participate in:

  • Member, Student Volunteers for Optometric Service to Humanity, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Faculty Advisor, American Academy of Optometry Student Chapter, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Clinical specialties/areas of expertise:

Dr. Pucker’s clinical interests are closely related to his research interests. Specifically, Dr. Pucker draws upon his clinical expertise in treating myopia development, contact lens discomfort, and ocular surface disease to inspire innovative research plans while at the same time using empirically based knowledge learned during his research endeavors to better serve his patients. This philosophy is highlighted by Dr. Pucker’s use of his background in myopia research to help open the Myopia Control and Specialty Contact Lens Clinic at UAB, a clinic that prescribes multifocal contact lenses, orthokeratology lenses, and 0.01% atropine to patients who are developing myopia with the hopes that these experimental treatments will reduce the patients’ overall final degree of myopia. Serving as Chief of this specialty clinic, Dr. Pucker administers care to myopic subjects with the aid of student doctors on a bimonthly basis.

If you are a clinician, in what UAB Eye Care clinic do you provide care?

  • Clinic Chief - Myopia Control and Specialty Contact Lens Clinic: Clinic 335
  • Clinical Attending - Cornea and Contact Lens Clinic: Clinic 412