Ava Katherine Bittner, O.D., Ph.D., FAAO received her Optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 2001 with clinical honors in pediatrics and low vision. She earned a PhD in clinical investigation from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in 2011. Dr. Bittner completed a clinical research post-doctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute’s Lions Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center from 2002-2007, and then joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor at the Wilmer Eye Institute. In 2014, she joined the faculty at the Nova Southeastern University, College of Optometry and currently holds the rank of Associate Professor.
Dr. Bittner's research interests include the psychophysical assessment of the healthy and diseased visual system, both to increase the understanding of this system and to develop tools to monitor disease and therapeutic outcomes. She is also interested in complementary and alternative approaches to sight preservation and disease/symptom attenuation in retinal degenerations. Dr. Bittner has received NIH funding (K23 and R21 awards) from the National Eye Institute, and is currently working on research evaluating electro-acupuncture and transcorneal electrical stimulation as potential interventions to improve ocular/retinal blood flow and visual function in retinitis pigmentosa.
Dr. Bittner's research has examined the relationships between psychosocial factors (e.g. mood states) and day to day variations in vision or photopsias (e.g. phosphene light phenomena) among patients with retinal degeneration, and she aims to design and conduct clinical trials involving interventions for these patients in the future. Dr. Bittner has served as a co-investigator on multi-center clinical trials of devices for patients with retinal degenerations; i.e., Visioncare’s Implantable Miniature Telescope for age-related macular degeneration, Optobionics’ Artificial Silicon Retina® for retinitis pigmentosa, Second Sight’s Argus II retinal prosthesis for retinitis pigmentosa. Dr. Bittner has also served as a consultant for QLT Inc. sponsored international clinical trials for patients with inherited retinal disease due to RPE65 or LRAT mutations. Dr. Bittner is currently conducting a feasibility study of telerehabilitation for low vision patients.
Dr. Bittner is a Fellow and Research Diplomate of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) in the Low Vision section. She was a proud recipient of the AAO Ezell Fellowship Award in 2010-2011. Dr. Bittner has been a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) since 2002, served on the ARVO Annual Meeting Program Committee from 2011-2014, and is a past chair of the Low Vision Research Group (LVRG). She was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa academic Honorary Society in 2011. Dr. Bittner (formerly Dr. Kiser) is an author on at least 27 peer-reviewed publications in highly regarded scientific journals such as JAMA, Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science, British Journal of Ophthalmology, Retina, and Optometry and Vision Science.