Xiangrun Huang, PhD

My research goal is to provide sensitive assessment methods for early diagnosis and management of optic nerve neuropathic diseases, thus preventing irreversible vision loss. With a background in biomedical engineering, I have been working on research projects that aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of the optical properties of ocular tissues, both in normal and glaucomatous eyes. By using in vitro preparation of retinas, many breakthrough findings, which are relevant to this proposal, are made through my research projects. For instance, we provide a comprehensive understanding of the directional reflectance of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and wavelength-dependence of RNFL reflectance in normal and glaucomatous retinas. We identify the axonal ultrastructure that contributes to the optical properties of the RNFL, and provide knowledge of how the ultrastructure responds to glaucomatous damage. We also find that glaucoma causes a decrease in RNFL reflectance and the decrease precedes thinning of the RNFL. Our most recent finding is that at early stages of glaucoma, the decrease in RNFL reflectance occurs earlier at short wavelengths than at long wavelengths. The findings led to this research project, which will translate the knowledge gained from in vitro experiments into in vivo measurement of RNFL reflectance at different wavelengths and develop a new imaging modality for sensitive detection of glaucomatous damage.