Wide-field Volumetric Fluorescence Angiography for Sensitive Detection of RPE Permeability in AMD
Macular degeneration is a disease that damages the center of the eyesight and can cause blindness. The disease takes a long time to develop and gradually progresses to blinding conditions. The problem is that we don’t have the proper tools to predict when a patient’s eyesight will be damaged and when to treat the patient before the vision gets really bad. This project plans to address this problem by developing new techniques to detect disease progression.
Our retina sits on a single layer of cells called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) that protects the retina. RPE is extremely important in several roles, such as digesting the debris from the photoreceptors, absorbing excessive light, and in particular, maintaining a blood-retina barrier from choroid. The compromised RPE barrier function is a critical step in development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and our goal is to image and measure the RPE permeability. We will develop novel three-dimensional imaging techniques to image the leakage through the RPE into retina, and use it to indicate AMD progression. We will use an animal model of AMD to test our technique and see whether the RPE permeability can be quantified by simply shining a light into the eye. This study is innovative in that it proposes a non-invasive imaging technique that can uniquely measure the barrier function of RPE, and can be translated into patient care. If successful, the imaging technique can be readily applied in clinics, and directly impact the diagnosis and treatment of AMD patients, to stall the disease progress and prevent blindness.