A Novel Non-Contact Method for Early Glaucoma Diagnosis and Monitoring

Guorong Li, MD
Duke University Eye Center (Durham, NC)
Year Awarded:
Grant Duration:
July 1, 2015 to December 30, 2017
Award Amount:
Grant Reference ID:
Award Type:
Award Region:
US Southeastern
Guorong Li, MD

OCT Measurement of TM/SC Stiffness in Living Mice


The most important factor in preventing blindness in glaucoma patients is early diagnosis and effective treatment of the disease. We have developed a way, without touching the eye, to visualize the mouse outflow pathway, ie, the tissues draining fluid from the eye that control intraocular pressure (IOP), as that pathway may be affected by different pressure readings and various glaucoma drug treatments. This project is vital in three ways: 1) we can make glaucoma eyes in mice that mimic the disease in humans in order to test how the outflow tissue of diseased eyes differs from normal eyes; 2) we can treat the glaucoma eyes with newly developed drugs to see whether they are safe and effective for glaucoma; 3) we can apply the information collected from these animals to clinical purposes for glaucoma early diagnosis and effective treatment.  


Lowering intraocular pressure (IOP) is neuroprotective, delaying/preventing vision loss in primary open-angle glaucoma patients. Much of the functional morphologic knowledge about the conventional outflow pathway has been limited to fixed samples, often from patients on long-term medical treatment, and thus is subject to artifact and represents only a “snapshot” in time. In actuality, IOP is dynamic and integrated, and IOP oscillations are dampened by the pressure-dependent conventional outflow tract.  The aim of this study is to understand the vibrant response of conventional outflow tissues to changes in IOP and to a conventional outflow drug, in real-time.  Specifically, we aim to develop non-invasive methodologies to determine the stiffness of the trabecular meshwork (TM)/Schlemm’s canal (SC) inner wall in young, aged, and corticosteroid-induced glaucoma mouse eyes (plus/minus treatment with a rho kinase inhibitor) using spectral domain OCT. Our study has potential impact for three important clinical unmet needs: (i) early glaucoma diagnosis, (ii) monitoring treatment response and (iii) following disease progression.

About the Researcher

I had more than ten years’ experience in clinic practice for treating patients with eye diseases, deeply feeling the importance and the urgency in early diagnosis of glaucoma and finding new treatments for glaucoma patients.  Basic research helps me better to understand the disease and involved mechanism, design more effective and efficient way in searching for the new treatment. My research has been focused on mechanisms and functional study of glaucoma, specifically pathophysiology of aqueous humor outflow pathway, the key tissues for controlling intraocular pressure and preventing glaucoma development and progression. I have published over 30 papers in the field and developed several research innovations in this area. My goal is to find a simple and useful method to detect early changes in outflow tissues and give effective and personalization medicine to each patient to prevent and effective treat this second leading blindness disorder worldwide. With the funding from the BrightFocus foundation, I will have a better opportunity to reach the goal to prevent vision loss in elderly.

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