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Faculty Detail    
Campus Address EFH 609 Zip 0009
Phone  (205) 325-8635
Other websites Full Biography

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Ophthalmology  Ophthalmology Professor
Secondary  Psychology  Psychology Professor
Secondary  Vision Sciences (Org-Ret)  Vision Sciences (Org-Ret) Assistant Professor
Center  Neurology   Alzheimer's Disease Center Professor
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Center for Outcomes & Effectiveness Res & Educ Professor
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Comprehensive Neuroscience Center Professor
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Ctr for Clinical & Translational Sci Professor
Center  Integrative Center for Aging Research  Integrative Center for Aging Research Professor
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Minority Health & Research Center Professor
Center  Vision Sciences (Org-Ret)  Vision Science Research Center (Org-Ret) Professor

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Neuroscience Graduate Program 
Waiting to be Seated 

Biographical Sketch 
Dr. Cynthia Owsley was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1953 and grew up in Philadelphia and Connecticut. She is a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. In 1980 she received a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Cornell University, followed by a three-year fellowship in ophthalmology and gerontology at Northwestern University. Since 1982 she has been on the faculty at UAB.

Research/Clinical Interest
Dr. Owsley’s research is aimed at better understanding the causes of aging-related eye disease so that treatments can be developed. Almost 14 million Americans suffer from some degree of uncorrectable vision impairment, with the vast majority of them being over the age of 50 years. Dr. Owsley’s research is focusing on early markers of age-related maculopathy (ARM), which is the leading cause of untreatable blindness in older adults. Her work has shown that night vision problems and trouble seeing under low illumination are early signs of ARM, and provide insights into the abnormal course of events taking place in the retina during this disease. This information, when combined with results from anatomical and biochemical studies, can ultimately suggest avenues for the development of treatments for ARM, before permanent vision loss occurs. Dr. Owsley’s research program also focuses on the consequences of eye disease in the elderly, in an effort to enhance quality of life in older adults with eye problems. One area of special interest is vision impairment and driving, which is the primary mode of personal travel in the U.S. Dr. Owsley has found that cataracts elevate crash risk in older drivers by hampering their contrast sensitivity. She has further demonstrated that cataract surgery can reduce crash risk and thus contributes to maintaining personal independence in later life. Dr. Owsley’s future work will continue to focus on aging-related eye disease, both in terms of developing sight-saving prevention strategies and also demonstrating the effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
Owsley, C., Stalvey, B.T., Wells, J. (2001). A crash reduction strategy: Training transportation professionals in Alabama about how to manage drivers with diminished capabilities. University Transportation Center for Alabama (UTCA), UTCA Report 99238, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.   
Owsley, C., Sloane, M.E., McGwin Jr, G., Ball, K. (2002) Timed instrumental activities of daily living (TIADL) tasks: Relationship to cognitive function and everyday performance assessments in older adults. Gerontology. 48:254-265.   
Scilley, K.M., Owsley, C. (2002). Vision-specific health-related quality of life: Content areas for nursing home residents. Quality of Life Research. 11: 449-462.   
Owsley, C. (in press). Contrast sensitivity testing. In P.A. Sample, C.A. Girkin (Eds.) Ophthamological Clinics of North America. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.   
Owsley, C., McGwin, G Jr., Sloane, M.E., Wells, J., Stalvey, B.T., Gauthreaux, S. (2002). Impact of cataract surgery on motor vehicle crash involvement by older adults. JAMA. 288:841-849.