Health Editor’s Note: Without a functioning retina, sight is impossible. The retina lines the back of the eye and translates the light and images that come in through the front of the eye and translates an image into electrical neural impulses to the portion of the brain that interprets what is being seen. There are three types of photoreceptors in the retina. Rods which provide black and white vision and function in dim light, cones which interpret color and photoreceptor cells for responses to the brightness of light. When light hits the retina there is a waterfall of electrical and chemical events that activate nerve impulses which are sent to the visual centers of the brain through the all important optic nerve. You need a healthy retina to process light and to see clearly….Carol
NIH Scientists Combine Technologies to View the Retina in Unprecedented Detail
Technique enables direct imaging of neural tissue; could lead to earlier detection of diseases affecting eye tissue.
By combining two imaging modalities — adaptive optics and angiography — investigators at the National Eye Institute (NEI) can see live neurons, epithelial cells, and blood vessels deep in the eye’s light-sensing retina. Resolving these tissues and cells in the outermost region of the retina in such unprecedented detail promises to transform the detection and treatment of diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness among the elderly. NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health, and the paper was published online in Communications Biology.
“For studying diseases, there’s no substitute for watching live cells interact. However, conventional technologies are limited in their ability to show such detail,” said the paper’s lead author, Johnny Tam, Ph.D., Stadtman Investigator in the Clinical and Translational Imaging Unit at NEI.
Biopsied and postmortem tissues are commonly used to study disease at the cellular level, but they are less than ideal for watching subtle changes that occur as a disease progresses over time. Technologies for noninvasively imaging retinal tissues are hampered by distortions to light as it passes through the cornea, lens, and the gel-like vitreous in the center of the eye.