Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer

Glaucoma, Neuro-Ophthalmology & Cataract Surgeon

Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer

Glaucoma, Neuro-Ophthalmology & Cataract Surgeon

“Vision is the most precious thing. Nothing less than perfection is enough.”

– Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer, CNZM, MBChB, MD, PhD, RANZCO

Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer’s professional background

Discover more about this New Zealand eye expert below

Professor Danesh-Meyer is an international authority in glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology. She is one of the most highly regarded experts in her field.

Danesh-Meyer makes a significant contribution to lecturing undergraduate science, medical and optometry students. She teaches postgraduate optometry and ophthalmology – both nationally and internationally.

Helen has also been recognised for her research – receiving numerous awards and research grants, and publishing more than 120 articles.

Principal qualifications and training
  • MB ChB (Otago)
  • FRANZCO Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
  • Doctor of Medicine (Auckland)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Auckland)
  • Sir William and Lady Stevenson Professor of Ophthalmology University of Auckland
  • Chair, Glaucoma New Zealand
  • Head of the Optic Nerve and Glaucoma Research Unit of the New Zealand National Eye Centre (NZNEC)
  • Chair, Scientific Programme Committee Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
  • Member of the Part II Court of Examiners for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
  • Member of the scientific research boards of research organisations (Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia, Save Sight Society)
  • Editorial Board, Ophthalmology
  • Chairman of the Save Sight Society Research Committee
  • Neuro-ophthalmology Section Editor of two journals – Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology & the Journal of Clinical
  • Neuroscience
  • Co-editor of the Clinical Challenges Section of the top-ranked journal Survey of Ophthalmology
  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of three major pharmaceutical companies – Alcon, Pfizer and Allerga
Prof Danesh-Meyer’s specialisations


  • Professor Danesh-Meyer specialises in glaucoma management, including:
  • Laser treatments
  • Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery
  • Complex glaucoma surgery, including trabeculectomy and tube shunt procedures.

Her practice serves as a clinical trial centre for new drugs and innovations in glaucoma, and she has completed immense amounts of research in this field (see below).


Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer is an internationally recognised neuro-ophthalmologist with a particular interest in brain tumours that impact vision, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory diseases and concussion.

Cataract surgery

Professor Danesh-Meyer specialises in cataract surgery, in particular for glaucoma patients.

Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer’s Community Service:

Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer is a founding Trustee of Glaucoma New Zealand, a charitable trust for the prevention of blindness from glaucoma, which was established in 2003. Since its inception, she has served as the Managing Trustee and has recently been appointed the Chairperson of Glaucoma NZ.

Glaucoma is a common eye disease of older age that may affect 2-4% of the New Zealand population, leading to blindness or severe visual impairment if undiagnosed and untreated. Over the last five years, Glaucoma NZ has grown exponentially and developed a membership of over 6000 individuals.

In 2020, Helen founded the Vision Research Foundation to support bright research minds to stay in New Zealand, complete ground-breaking research and create new patient solutions that positively impact human lives.

Helen regularly contributes to the production of literature for its newsletters, public lectures, educational forums and public awareness campaigns. She has given several television and radio interviews promoting glaucoma awareness. She has recently been awarded the Paul Harris Rotary Medal for her contributions to the community – a rare distinction bestowed upon non-Rotarians.

Helen has been recognised for her research, receiving numerous awards and research grants. She has published more than 120 articles. Her research has recently been focused in the New Scientist (January 2009) as one of the leading innovators in neuro-ophthalmology research.

She has also authored several chapters, including the Neuro-ophthalmology section in Albert & Jakobeic (a major reference textbook in ophthalmology). She has co-authored a major textbook in Neuro-ophthalmology published by McGraw-Hill and is presently co-authoring a second textbook, Glaucomatous Optic Neuropathy, to be published by Oxford University Press. Her research interests have also accrued over $1,000,000 in funding from diverse funding bodies, including Health Research Council of New Zealand, Auckland Medical Research Fund and the Save Sight Society of New Zealand.

Helen’s research focus spans both clinical and basic science aspects of optic nerve disease with an emphasis on translational ophthalmology. Her research interests include giant cell arteritis, ischaemic optic neuropathies, imaging modalities in neuro-ophthalmology, the role of astrocytes in optic neuropathies, and glaucomatous optic neuropathy.

Several aspects of her clinical research have influenced and altered clinical management strategies in the international arena, particularly her work on imaging of the retinal nerve fibre layer in chiasmal compression and the role of the “ice test” in myasthenia gravis.

As a neuro-ophthalmologist, Helen pioneered quantitative evaluation of the optic nerve and its morphological changes. She used optic nerve imaging modalities such as optical coherence tomography, scanning laser ophthalmoscopy and scanning laser polarimetry.

Professor Danesh-Meyer has established glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology research at the University of Auckland and is the Head of the Optic Nerve and Glaucoma Research Unit of the New Zealand National Eye Centre (NZ-NEC). Her Optic Nerve Research Laboratory investigates ischaemic optic neuropathy and mechanisms of injury and repair in a novel rat model. Her team is also evaluating wound modulation in glaucoma filtration surgery in a rabbit model. She has also spearheaded collaborative clinical research with the Wilmer Eye Center at Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, the University of Montreal and has close ties with the University of Melbourne.

Fellow – Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists.

Graduating from the University of Otago Medical School in 1991, Professor Danesh-Meyer completed her post-graduate professional training in ophthalmology in Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland. After achieving the highest marks in both the Part I and Part II Examinations, she was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists. She then undertook a further two years of fellowship training in glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.- the largest eye hospital in the US.