Localizing light in the eye for diagnostic and therapeutic applications

Funding Details
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Grant type: Collaborative Health Research Projects
  • Year: 2010/11
  • Total Funding: $78,845
Principle Investigator(s)

Project Summary

The retina of the eye contains light sensitive cells, neurons and blood vessels. Recent adaptive optics technology to correct for the optical effects of eye tissue on light now enables light to be precisely focused onto these structures of the retina at the rear of the eye. As a result, very detailed images are possible, which will assist in the diagnosis and understanding of eye disease due to diabetes. This application has four objectives: 1) to develop an instrument with adaptive optical correction to allow the study of the structural damage due to diabetes at a cellular level in the eyes of children and adolescents; 2) to determine whether the earliest changes associated with diabetic eye disease occur in neural cells or in blood vessels; 3) to use the high-resolution instrument and optical methods to locally test the function of the normal and diabetic retina and visual system and 4) to assess the feasibility of precise delivery of light onto the retina for earlier and better treatment of diabetic eye disease. The novel instrument developed here will give high quality images of the changes in cells in both the vessels and the neurons in the retina. Because of increased resolution and contrast, the new instrument will make previously invisible features visible, answering an important scientific question of whether changes in neurons occur before, at the same time as or after changes to vessels. From a new, precise analysis of the activity in retinal neurons and of visual function, early changes in vision in diabetes will also be assessed. Adaptive optics, in combination with the new instrument, focus light to a small spot. With shaping in time, light with short, intense pulses may, in the future, be precisely delivered to the retina for less invasive therapies. This research will lead to earlier diagnosis, the understanding of the disease progression and better treatment of childhood diabetes. Earlier detection and earlier and better treatment of the effects of diabetes in the retina will prevent vision loss and its associated impact on quality of life. The new instrumentation and methods developed here may have broader applications to other eye diseases.