Researchers improvised a new imaging technique that can directly scan the retinal cells. This study might save millions of Glaucoma patients from going blind, whose early detection might help the Doctors save the patient's vision.
The blind Glaucoma!
Technically, glaucoma is a condition that affects the optic nerves, gradually damaging them thereby leaving the patient blind. They often get inherited from ancestors and tend to stay hidden until the older age. Glaucoma is often associated with the internal pressure inside the eye structure called as ‘Intraocular pressure’ maintained as a result of certain fluid mechanics. When the fluid circulating is disrupted anyway, it builds up a pressure leading to glaucoma.
Despite medical science advancements glaucoma cannot be cured, however, the therapeutic approaches help the patient thrive without much of adversities, as a result the loss of vision can be prevented. But there is a catch, unlike other eye disorders, glaucoma cannot be detected with ease. They are transparent cells located right beneath the eye surface making them impossible to image. All it could be done is to check the nerves from Retinal ganglion cells (RGC’s) and look for a nerve thinning. But by the time, the majority of cells might have undergone damage making it difficult to recover.
A study from University of Rochester Medical center
A study by Drs. David Williams and Ethan A. Rossi from the University of Rochester had devised a non-invasive imaging technique that can help doctors visualize the RGC’s directly. They did trial studies on rhesus macaque monkey as well as some human volunteers to verify their efficacy. Scientists employed a technique called as ‘confocal adaptive scanning light ophthalmoscopy’.
The underlying procedure is so simple, where a specific region of the retina can be mirror scanned with high precision that can be visualized using a monitor. A specific intensity of laser light is shined over the retinal cells, which will scatter when hit on the cell surface. A detector is used to collect these scattered light from the cells which are then sent to an analyzer to recreate an image, which can wave indications of cell damage if any.
The so collected images from multiple detectors, when combined into one cohesive image, showed a complete and clear picture of RGC’s in the Rochester study, whereas in the Rhesus monkey trial they were even able to see the intracellular structures like nuclei. Scientists are looking to achieve similar resolution in humans too in order to improve the quality of imaging diagnosis.
Now a timely routine check-up can give indications of ganglion cell damage which will alert the doctor. Since the imaging is live, they will get a real-time status of the retinal cells which indeed will improve the quality of treatment too. Compared to conventional imaging technique this scanning ophthalmoscopy ensure the treatment in right time even before too late to determine one.
Source: doi: 10.1073/pnas.1613445114