Miss Hughes, 23, made it into a shortlist of seven spectacle wearers from around New Zealand, and was chosen as one of the top two early last week.
She was named the winner of the Specsavers' competition in Sydney on Thursday.
As one of the two finalists Miss Hughes won a trip to Sydney where she had a makeover, a photoshoot and participated in the grand final, judged by actress Christina Hendricks, from the TV series Mad Men, and Kate Hawkesby.
The photo shoot was Mad Men-themed, with 50s styling.
Miss Hughes spent the night at a five star Sydney hotel and met fashion designer Alex Perry.
In the annual modelling competition, Specsavers' Spectacle Wearer of the Year, contestants upload a photo of themselves wearing their glasses to Specsavers' Facebook page.
The competition aims to find New Zealand's most stylish specs-wearer and help them start a modelling career.
As the overall winner Miss Hughes received a return trip for two to Los Angeles, including flights and five nights accommodation, the chance to participate in a photography session with Ms Hendricks, a hair and makeup session and a one year modelling contract with 62 Models and Talent.
Miss Hughes said she will be taking her best friend, Harriet, to LA.
She will also receive four pairs of Specsavers glasses worth $1000 and $500 spending money.
She said she felt a "little numb" at the news she had won.
"I still can't believe it now, I was really surprised."
Miss Hughes will be continuing with her science career and has taken a job transfer to Gisborne.
"I'm going to be juggling being a scientist and a model, it's the weirdest combination."
Miss Hughes said she was excited about winning a trip to LA but was still "buzzing" from the Sydney experience.
She met with 62 Models and Talent director Sara Tetro, in Auckland, last Friday to discuss agency work and will be going back up for a test shoot in the next couple of weeks.
Miss Hughes is unsure how far she will take her modelling and whether or not she will be entering anymore competitions.
"I'm just really taking each day as it comes, I'm not really bothered either way but it would be cool to get a few good modelling jobs," she said.
The runner-up was Grace Pengelly from Helensville, Auckland.