Pensioners in Bradford are lining up to take part in pioneering research which involves them having a laser beam shone into their eye.

Optometry experts at the city's university are conducting a study to determine the root cause of why eyesight tends to deteriorate with the passing years.

"It's not painful, but it is very bright at first, say as bright as a light bulb," says Dr Michael Cox, the lecturer in charge of the programme.

"It's not at all dangerous, People think that if you shine a laser into an eye that they will go blind.

"But everything has been worked out according to international safety standards."

The hi-tech process involves using an instrument which shines a laser light into the eye and projects a shadow grid of vertical and horizontal lines.

The equipment - which is the only one of its kind in the country - then relays the image onto a video camera which shows how flaws in the eye influence the grid lines.

About 15 pensioners have volunteered to take part in the study and Dr Cox says their assistance is invaluable.

"They make a vital contribution by giving up their free time to help us," he said.

The guinea pigs have special drops put in their eyes to make the pupils dilate which helps researchers get a close look at the eye.

Dr Cox is remaining tight-lipped about the findings so far, which he says are still at the preliminary stage.

As well as helping discover how the eye actually ages and how this leads to problems like short and long sight, the unique instrument is contributing to other areas of study.

The device is being used to design new types of contact lenses that can be adapted for a unique optic defects.

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