Two of the leading causes of irreversible vision loss in developed countries are age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy (DR). These diseases lead to the death of photoreceptors, the light-sensitive cells in the retina located at the back of the eye.
Treatments are currently available for “wet” AMD and DR, but there are currently no effective treatments for “dry” AMD. The key to preserving sight is early diagnosis, and monitoring the effects of the novel therapies in development.
The current technologies for non-invasive retinal imaging systems include flood illumination fundus photography, confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO) and optical coherence tomography (OCT). The resolution attainable with these techniques doesn’t permit visualization of the photoreceptor mosaic. The limiting factor to this ability is the eyes themselves—the cornea and lens that focus light onto the retina do not have microscopic abilities.
Dr. Sarunic has developed a novel instrument combining wavefront sensorless adaptive optics (SA) with OCT to correct ocular aberrations. This novel SAO OCT can achieve cellular resolution imaging of the retina, visualizing the individual photoreceptors that form a mosaic pattern on the retina (akin to looking at the pixels in a camera). This SAO OCT design is compact and clinically friendly, and with further investigation and commercialization, could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment for those with vision loss.