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Anjal Jain

Anjal Jain

2022 Davidson Fellow
$25,000 Scholarship

Age: 18
Hometown: Irvine, CA

Science: “Rate of Vessel Density and Visual Field Loss using Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography and Humphrey Field Analyzer in Peripapillary Areas of Glaucomatous Eyes”

About Anjal

My name is Anjal Jain, and I am eighteen years old from Southern California. I am an aspiring Ophthalmologist, hoping to one day pioneer cutting-edge cures to untreatable visual impairments. This has been my dream for the past eleven years, and being a Davidson Fellow has placed me on the first step of this path. When I first started my research, it was a means to educate myself. Never did I imagine that my research had the potential to contribute to the active body of ophthalmologic research.

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"The Davidson Fellows Scholarship has taught me that age does not define the bounds of curiosity and impact a person can make in the scientific field. Being a Davidson Fellow makes me feel empowered by my research and makes me inspired to continue my work towards finding a treatment for progressive vision loss."

Project Description

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma is an irreversible and incurable visual impairment that gradually inflicts vision deterioration, leading to blindness over time. Currently, ophthalmologists use visual field tests from the Humphrey Field Analyzer machine to detect signs of glaucoma and monitor the degree of vision loss. A newer technology, the OCTA machine which captures vessel density, can also be used as an indicator of glaucoma-- smaller vessel densities implicating less ocular blood flow and hence deteriorating vision. My research compared visual field tests to OCTA images over the span of 12 - 16 months in non-glaucomatous and glaucomatous eyes. My findings revealed that the OCTA machine detected glaucoma at earlier stages before the traditional Humphrey Field Analyzer machine, meaning that the OCTA machine is capable of earlier glaucoma detection. This is vital for glaucoma patients: earlier glaucoma detection means treatment to slow vision loss can be administered earlier, and a greater magnitude of vision can be saved.

Deeper Dive

My passion for ophthalmology started when I was 7 years old-- one of my very close family members told me that he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an irreversible and untreatable visual impairment. I was heartbroken that my role model could barely see my face and would soon be able to see nothing at all. As my family member’s confidence was crumbling as fast as his condition was deteriorating, I was determined to learn more about his visual impairment and potential treatments for the future. During this process, I realized I was very passionate about ophthalmology, specifically its research, and was interested in pursuing it as a career.

So, in the summer of 2020, I reached out to Professor Grace Richter at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, eager to get involved in her ophthalmologic research of visual impairments. Throughout the summer, I worked as part of Professor Richter’s team, learning more about glaucomatous fundamentals and the Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography (OCTA) machine as a co-author on her research paper. Then a month later, my family member was diagnosed with glaucoma, a second irreversible visual impairment, and got visual field tests done by his ophthalmologist. Curious to understand more about his visual loss and how it was assessed in visual field tests, I independently researched the logistics behind visual tests taken by the Humphrey Field Analyzer. As I entered my junior year, I started taking the selective AP Research course at my high school. For my AP Research research paper, I decided to investigate a combination of my experiences at USC and my newly acquired knowledge of visual tests. I was interested in comparing two different means of glaucoma detection with each other, the OCTA machine and Humphrey Field Analyzer, to investigate the potential of early glaucoma detection, and hence earlier administrable treatment. As a high school researcher, I faced many challenges. Many regulations restricted my access to only deidentified patient data. For this reason, new data could not be morally and independently collected. So, I utilized databases instead. I only had 23 eyes in the non-glaucomatous group and 24 in the glaucomatous group. Having a larger number of patients would have been more ideal, as it would have increased the power of my t-test. This would have improved the accuracy of the averages and p-values presented in the results section, hence providing stronger evidence of whether a certain machine was statistically significant in terms of visual deterioration. In other words, it is possible that if I was able to increase my cohort size to 100 patients, the p-value could have changed. In the future, I hope to reach out to other universities and access their databases to add to my research dataset. Ultimately, however, the strict exclusion factors enacted allowed my research to be more representative of glaucomatous cases and hence produced more accurate p-values than the larger original dataset.

My findings have larger impacts and broader implications in the body of ophthalmologic knowledge: vessel density percent change can provide earlier signs of glaucoma than the conventional mean deviation difference in visual tests. This information is crucial in preserving patient eyesight. If glaucomatous visual deterioration is identified at an earlier stage, ophthalmologists would be able to administer treatment (ex: specialized eye drops or intraocular eye pressure surgeries) earlier. This would slow vision deterioration in glaucomatous patients, allowing them to cherish a greater portion of their eyesight. My research provides an additional means of earlier glaucoma detection, which in turn has the potential to administer earlier treatment and preserve a greater degree of vision. Glaucoma has impacted around 80 million people worldwide and is projected to impact 111 million by 2040. Research findings like mine in earlier glaucoma detection have the potential to slow visual deterioration and prevent irreversible blindness in millions. My research contributes to the future of bringing a vibrant world to the low-vision community.


What is your absolute dream job?

Apart from being an Ophthalmologist, my dream job would be to pursue my artistic passions as a international singer who combines Hindustani and Western classical music and inspires young Indian children in the United States to stay connected with their culture.

If you could magically become fluent in any language, what would it be?

I would become fluent in Sanskrit, so that I could study the ancient literature of India and glean insights into the knowledge of some of the most brilliant minds in the world.

What is your favorite hobby?

I have been singing ever since I was four years old and have found that it is a great means for me to destress and express my emotions. I attended the Orange County School of the Arts High School where I was able to pursue both my scientific and artistic passions as part of the classical voice conservatory.

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In The News

Los Angeles – The Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program has announced the 2022 scholarship winners. Among the honorees are Vivien He, 18, of Rancho Palos Verdes, and Chunyi Zhou, 16, and Anjal Jain, 18, of Irvine. Only 21 students across the country are recognized as 2022 scholarship winners.

Download the full press release here