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Thomas Norton headshot.

Professor Emeritus

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(205) 934-6742
HPB 513

Office hours:Flexible


  • BA, Yale University, Psychology
  • PhD, UCLA, Psychology (Neuroscience)
  • Postdoc, University of Pennsylvania, Neurophysiology

Research interests:

Why do children become nearsighted? Research from my lab and others has shown there is a feedback mechanism that uses refractive error postnataly to adjust eye growth, producing eyes in good focus (emmetropia). How then do many children develop juvenile-onset myopia? As Professor emeritus, I am using my accumulated knowledge of the emmetropization mechanism to help colleagues to develop funded studies to learn why so many children become myopic. The goal of this research is to learn how emmetropia is normally produced and how the emmetropization mechanism is disrupted to produce myopia or hyperopia in humans.

Select publications:

  • Norton, T. T. Animal models of myopia: learning how vision controls the size of the eye. ILAR-Journal 40: 59-67, 1999.
  • Shaikh, A. W., J. T. Siegwart, Jr., and T. T. Norton, The effect of interrupted lens wear on compensation for a minus lens in tree shrews. Optom. Vis. Sci.76: 308-315, 1999.
  • Gwiazda, J., Hyman, L, Hussein, M, Everett, D, Norton, T. T., Kurtz, D., Leske, M. C., Manny, R., Marsh-Tootle, W, Scheiman, M., and the COMET Group. A randomized clinical trial of progressive addition lenses versus single vision lenses on the progression of myopia in children. Invest Ophthalmol Vis. Sci. 44:1492-1500, 2003.
  • Gwiazda, J., Hyman, L., Norton, T. T., Hussein, M., Marsh-Tootle, W., Manny, R., Wang, Y., Everett, D., and the COMET Group. Accommodation and related risk factors associated with myopia progression and their interaction with treatment in COMET children. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci., 45: 2143−2151, 2004.
  • Rada, J. S., Shelton, S., and Norton, T. T. The sclera and myopia. Exp. Eye Res. 82 (2):185-200, 2006.
  • Norton, T. T., Metlapally, R. and Young, T. L. Chapter 26, Myopia. In: Garner, A. and Klintworth, G. K. (Eds.) Garner and Klintworth’s Pathobiology of Ocular Disease, 3rd Edition, Informa Healthcare, NY, London, Part A, 537 – 556, 2008.
  • Guo, L., Frost, M.R., Siegwart, Jr., J.T., Norton, T. T. Scleral gene expression during recovery from myopia compared with expression during myopia development in tree shrew. Molecular Vision 20: 1643-1659 2014.
  • Norton, T.T, What do animal studies tell us about the mechanism of myopia – protection by light? Optom Vis Sci, 93: 1049-1051, 2016
  • Gawne, T. J., Ward, A. H., Norton, T. T. Long-wavelength (red) light produces hyperopia in juvenile and adolescent tree shrews. Vision Res 140: 55-65, 2017.

Academic distinctions and professional societies:  

  • Amcon Visiting Professor, School of Optometry University of Missouri, St. Louis, 2001
  • Recipient, Basic Science Teaching Award, UAB Chapter, Am. Optometric Student Association, 2003
  • Keynote Speaker, 10th International Myopia Conference, Cambridge, UK, August 2004
  • Fellow (silver), Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
  • Keynote speaker, Sek Jin Chew memorial lecture, 13th Intl. Myopia Conf., Tübingen, Germany, 2010
  • Invited speaker, 2011 Monroe Hirsch Memorial Symposium, Am. Acad. of Optometry, Boston, MA
  • Invited speaker, 2012 ARVO glaucoma minisymposium, “Lessons from Remodeling Sclera in Myopia
  • Invited speaker, 2014 Irving Borish Symposium, Indiana University School of Optometry

Scientific Societies:

  • Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
  • American Academy of Optometry
  • International Society for Eye Research
  • Society for Neuroscience

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